Sunday, August 2, 2009
Aliens and Bureaucracy
Like many Baen authors, Michael Z. Williamson writes military-SF, with different planets and advanced weaponry and highly trained professionals from the good-guy planet and mostly corrupt officials from the bad-guy planet (Earth). Although I enjoy a lot of military SF, I mostly cheat by skimming the combat rich parts, either the gory one-on-one bits or the technology rich battles between space ships. I just like heroes in space.
Contact With Chaos is about the first contact humans have with a real alien race, and the attempts to build a trade relationship without destroying the alien culture or starting a war. But it mostly reads as an outline of the event, and I think that is because the characters don't really affect anything. They are doing their job, and anyone else could have done it too. Maybe other people would have done things a little differently, but it never felt like the personalities of the main characters had much to do with their decisions, or that they learned and changed because of what was going on. There wasn't really any character arc for anyone. The closest was that some of the male protagonists occasionally noticed what hotties most of the females were, and thought that maybe sometime when they were off duty maybe they could do something social. But no one ever got off-duty. There was a character from an earlier book, who had a few brief thoughts about the difficulties some of her personal history caused her (her father was a notorious officer in a previous war), but it wasn't a big deal and nothing was resolved. It was a fast read, and I don't begrudge the time, but I don't recommend this except to Williamson completists. C.