01/04/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Titan Books. 318 page paperback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK), $ 7.99 (US), $ 8.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-84856-286-4.
check out website: www.titanbooks.com
Is 'Terminator Salvation: From The Ashes' canon to the new film or not will have to remain debatable until its release or certainly until I've read its upcoming novelisation as comparison as to whether its cashing in or not. Certainly, that debate will have to wait until then. This novel is classed on the cover as a prequel to the next Terminator film 'Salvation'.
Skynet had laid carnage to the world and killing off any humans that dare raise their heads by a combination of Hunter Killer aircraft and Terminator-600s. These are the ones with skin made of rubber and not very life-like so obviously before the first film. There are also the standard Terminator foot-soldiers who don't have any skin at all but are still very efficient fighting machines.
As this is slightly into the future, the human resistance do have some of the right kinds of weapons to take on such enemies. These skinless T-600s do have a neat trick of re-assembling themselves should any of their parts not be too damaged. A novel trick that I hope isn't in the movie unless the surviving chassises can pick up any available limbs. I'm also a bit puzzled why the resistance don't use the T-600s own weapons back at them when they are caught but maybe I have the makings of a resistance fighter.
Anyway, this is downtown Los Angeles in ruins and escaped much of the nuclear fall-out and we view two groups. John Connor and his resistance force have split up with his wife Kate leading one team, looking for recruits, attacking Terminators whenever they have to - which is most of the time, and wondering what's in a warehouse that Skynet is defending.
A group of humans living in the ruins is run by Grimaldi but it's a marine, Orezco, who keeps the look-outs working. Amongst them is a young Kyle Reece and a deaf girl called Star. Before you raise the connection here and this isn't really a spoiler: This is not a story of how Reece met Connor! If you check back to the original film, Reece doesn't join Connor's Resistance until much later after he was caught by Skynet and forced with some other into disposing of the bodies at the death camps. Somewhere down the line from this story, Skynet must have decided to take prisoners.
Much of this book is essentially guerrilla tactics interspersed with some characterisation to show what life is like avoiding or battling with the Skynet forces. You don't get anything from its perspective because it's a machine that works without pity or remorse. Skynet is just doing a mop-up operation. There are victories but at a terrible cost.
Author Timothy Zahn is an experienced Science Fiction author writing and using this to make this an involving story. As a prequel to whet your appetite for the new film, well, there are some clues as to what happens next but if they are carried out, then to say anything about those would be deemed as spoilers. As I'm probably doing the novelisation next month, I can say more then. Don't forget to let your dog smell any strangers in the meantime.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA