“Marines (Crimson Worlds I)” by Jay Allan


I really liked this book. It was well written and has just the kind of military science fiction I like to read. It’s fast paced yet takes the time to tell the reader what is happening and why. There is a little back and forth at the beginning where the main character, already in the Marines, has to go back and tell you how he got there. I don’t think his story would be any different than some hard luck types of the 1940s who were “allowed’ to join the services or go to jail. Judges did that back then when a war was going on and the military didn’t really care what kind of person they got because they were either going to figure out how to fight and survive or they were dead. This is the same situation. The only thing the military offers over their current lives is the ability to be trained in how to fight and survive. You usually don’t last long if you try to do this on your own.

Anyway, our main character is in the Marines. Not your typical earth-bound ground pounders but the space kind that launch from orbit and hit an alien planet with their fully armored, environmentally sealed, fighting suits. Man, what a way to go into battle; as long as the other guys doesn’t have armor, that is. I can’t imagine going into a firefight with the immediately available knowledge of where my buddies are, where I am, and knowing that if I get hurt, I can get patched up pretty quickly. Usually your so scared that you’re only focusing on the guy next to you even if you can’t remember his name. You hope your training kicks in because right now you don’t remember how to do anything or so you think. Once you get into the bush you’re alone. There’s no HUD showing you where everyone is at; you just know where you’re at and afraid to stick you head up to see if anyone is close to you. It would be nice to have some kind of chatter going over a radio built into your helmet, but, no, your helmet is a piece of steel that hopefully will slightly deflect a bullet or it’s even plastic called kevlar that’s supposed to be stronger than steel but again you remember that all your stuff was built by the lowest bidder! Space armor! Man, why didn’t that think of that stuff way back when?

Anyway, our guy, Erik Cain, is our future Marine with all the stuff that goes with it. His training is extensive considering it lasts years and years. I don’t know how they manage to get anyone into their wars with the length of training he goes through. He should be thoroughly ready to handle anything after his long, long training period. But, no matter how long you get trained, some guys can handle themselves by using it and others just die. Our guys does pretty well. His battles are brutal because it seems that everyone has the same capabilities so all his fancy armor doesn’t do much good. In the end, he gets his ticket to the hospital which usually means a ticket home but not for the future soldier. He’s rebuilt and sent right back to the war. What a wonder though to have will you’re lying in your hospital bed to know that as soon as you get well, you’re going right back to get shot at again! What a wonderful life. Maybe you’ll do everything right this time! Oh, yeah, getting yourself blown up the first time wasn’t exactly your fault but well, we’ll give you another chance anyway!

Ok, I read this book and for the most part I liked it. There’s a little too much happening to this guy to actually believe it would happen that way. I guess the fastest way to get promoted is to have everyone a head of you die but that doesn’t seem to be very productive. If that happened all the time, very few of the “experienced” guys would have any experience at all and they would just be the next in line to get killed. Still, Cain manages to survive and does get promoted very fast. The author does seem to skip some pretty significant rank structure along the way but when your short of soldiers, I guess that can be expected.

Read the book. You’ll like it if you like military science fiction. I’m hoping there’s more to come in this series and that it doesn’t take too long to get the next book published.

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