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Starfist: Firestorm by David Sherman and Dan Cragg

01/01/2009. Contributed by Paul Hanley

Buy Starfist: Firestorm in the USA - or Buy Starfist: Firestorm in the UK

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pub: Del Rey/Ballantine. 295 page hardback. Price: $21.95 (US), $27.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-345-46056-1.

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This is apparently the twelfth book in the 'Starfist' series. I think I may have read one or two earlier books but I felt this book could stand alone as a read.

The authors are both men with military experience in Vietnam with David Sherman a Marine infantryman and Dan Cragg a regular with the US Army who ended his career as a Sergeant Major.

The military experiences of the authors' colours the combat scenes in this book of military Science Fiction. The main protagonists are the men of a marine unit who are deployed as part of a force deployed to put down an insurrection on the planet Ravanette.

I would say that there were far too many acronyms used which tend to make it seem like a military manual or a campaign history. If these are to be used it would be helpful to have a page in the front of the book which explained what they meant. That said, the combat descriptions were well done.

It may be because this is part of a series some of the story threads clearly have been in earlier books or will be in later ones so it may be, as is usually the case, that it would have been better to start with the earliest book in the series. I did think the story itself was rather thin. The government, The Confederation of Human Worlds is putting down an insurrection which is suspiciously similar to the American Civil War with the rebels having precipitated events by firing on Fort Sumpter, sorry Fort Seymour. As I say the fighting part is well done and whilst it seesaws back and forth the Marines and those supporting them triumph in the end.

It does not seem however to change anything as the losers are sent home with their weapons and the Marines are clearly about to be re-deployed to face an alien menace.

Whilst I enjoyed the book, the fighting could have been a description of World War II combat except that there were laser anti-aircraft guns rather than Bofors and the Marines carried blasters and every other foot soldier flechette rifles rather than the semi-automatic or bolt action rifles of Second World War vintage.

The book had plenty of characters and something of a political framework though it was never clear whilst the two bodies of humans had come to fighting each other.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I am sure if you have read books in the series before and know the characters you will enjoy it. A qualified approval.

Paul Hanley

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