4 Small Stars

I hate reading novellas. They seem to just get you started on a story and then quit all too soon! Still, I decided to read this one since I like to get in on the beginning of any Space Marine story that starts at the beginning with basic training. I find how the author approaches that subject very informative and a good indicator of how realistic the story will be in the rest of the books.

Unfortunately, this one isn’t going to be very realistic. Earth is fighting a losing war against the Chitin. The Chitin are an alien species that Earth accidentally stumbled upon while colonizing one of their planets. We also began using one of their gas giants for fuel. While we didn’t know that the Chitin has claims on this system, we soon found out as they attacked and destroyed our colony. Actually, I believe we attacked the Chitin first, but it was confusing how that came about. We don’t really know what the Chitin look like since their soldiers are encased in an extremely tough exoskeleton that looks like giant spiders! The Chitin appear to be very tough and are certainly as intelligent or more intelligent than humans.

The war isn’t going well for Earth. We’re down to recruiting any and every able-bodied young person that doesn’t keep their grades up in college. That sounds kind of ridiculous. If Earth was in such dire straights for manpower, I doubt that a persons academic standing would have much to do with them not going into the military, especially given the extreme lack of manpower Earth forces are now experiencing. Still, one Jack Forge who thought his grades were high enough to get out of the military, got drafted anyway. Now, their draft isn’t like getting a notice in the mail to report to such and such a place; no, the military show up at the university and grab those who’s grades are posted below the standard for staying in college. These young people are hauled off and thrown into basic training as fast as possible. Not the best way to do things.

So, Jack Forge is going to be a Space Marine. I think the author isn’t sure what a Space Marine is supposed to be like. His idea so far seems to put all these young people into one of two categories; they’re either stubborn bullies, thieves or cowards or wimpy kids that don’t have a clue! Jack Forge falls into the latter category! He certainly can’t fight and seems to be a pacifist all the way until he has to defend himself against the Chitin. He’d rather use his brain than his plasma rifle, but the does use it effectively when absolutely necessary.

I just don’t like Jack Forge. That’s the basis of my review. He’s too much of a wimp for my liking. He can’t stand up to anyone and he’s pretty gullible, getting tricked at every turn. While he’s smart, he doesn’t act like it sometimes and he needs to speak up for himself when the time is right, but he seems to speak up when it’s not the right time and gets in trouble.

I’m going to read the second book because it’s out, but I don’t have a strong feeling that I’ll follow this series very far. Jack Forge just doesn’t seem to be my idea of a Space Marine. That’s too bad.