Fear the Survivors by Stephen Moss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fear the Survivors (The Fear Saga Book 2) by Stephen Moss
This novel is a fantastic read for all those fans who love the scientific military novels that delve into both the description of the science behind the weapons and their deployment. It is also a novel for those who like those political thrillers that delve into the intricacies of diplomacy versus the high achievers who just want to see things completed. And it has great suspense, as against this backdrop, we see almost indestructible forces working in the background to manipulate the Earth toward its own destruction. Well the destruction of all humans anyway. It would be preferable that atomic weapons not be used to destroy the very resource that brings the aliens here to conquer Earth. This novel also includes some elements close to cyberpunk with creations that are close to what we are familiar with in the Terminator franchise.
All of this makes for the sound of an exciting novel and I have to admit that I did greatly enjoy the read. The problem for me is that there is much more than what I've mentioned and hardly enough room to contain it all. That means there were some decisions made about how to tell the story that in a small way limit the novel. At least it limits the novel for me. I have special needs in that I love character driven novels. This novel has plenty of characters and many of those carry over from the previous novel. The characters are quite complex, but the style of writing seems to come from an Omniscient third many times that drops to almost objective omniscient view other times(There is just enough subjective along the way to pull us away from objective though the Prologue seems to start out objective: or at least that's how I saw it). This leads to the science often coming in vast spurts of narrative that sound like textbook data. For me it felt like we went through Close Third Omniscient to Omniscient that wavered between the objective and subjective and it was probably my own failure to pin down the exact POV that made the first part of this novel a difficult read.
Chapter one begins feeling almost like a close third yet somehow omniscient; but never quite close enough and then it almost seems like the narrator starts to get a bit subjective and in fact begins down a style path that stays with the story throughout. This is the path where the narrator tells the reader that there are things that the characters don't know to lend to the story a bit of foretelling or foreboding. Mostly the first part of the novel is catching us up on the previous story and, though the urgency of the alien invasion is pushed back a bit, we get a slow trickle of information that brings someone unfamiliar with the first book up to speed. I would recommend reading the first book. And anyone who has read that is familiar with the author’s style and if they enjoyed that book this one is every bit as well written.
There is a slight bit, possibly, of humor, which brings us closer to the alien invaders. This deals with Lana who set off a nuclear weapon in order to save herself. She's repairing under a trashy trailer in a trailer park where a pair of 'trashy' people live. What she endures leads her to plot the death of the trailers occupants. From there after repairing she begins her terminator style killing spree. I had a hard time with this part but some people might be able to appreciate better than I did. Once again this gets us up to speed with both the character Lana and her quest for revenge. (Possibly any problem I have with this stems from having twice lived in trailer parks: maybe not as trashy as this one.)
Half of the novel is filled with the science. The science that brings Earth up to speed with the aliens and all the equipment that will be needed to use as weapons against the coming invasion force. Along with this is the arc of finding and executing the remaining part of the advance force (except for the two who have decided to help Earth resist the invasion). The second half is the political posturing and the arc that shows us how the main character Neal goes from being a key member of the United States response to the invasion, to something more autonomous and what he has to endure and the compromises he has to make. One problem with all of this is that the story doesn't take off for me until Neal begins breaking away from this political umbilical cord. Neal has grown quite a bit from the last novel, almost beyond his own original character.
Stephen Moss demonstrates a vast knowledge of global affairs and politics along with an interest in the science around the development and use of military grade materials. There is a fantastic scene drawn out in one place where the tether for the space elevator is dropping out of the sky and vehicles are attempting to retrieve it to bring it to its anchor point. I have no idea about the physics but it is a pretty intense piece of reading. A lot of the science and even the politics seem to be used as a build-up to the final demonstration where we get to see the pieces fall together and either fail or succeed. In this way I was reminded of a recent read by Tom Kratman's A Desert Called Peace.
A pivotal new character is brought to us via the initial story summary at the beginning and that was probably one of my favorite characters in the story; though they don't get that much time in the story until near the end. This character reminded me of Orson Scott Card's Ender. In that they are being placed in a similar situation.
Over all, despite my own feelings about the style choices made, the choices reflect the same as those in the first novel, which speaks for consistency. And for those people who like their science to be well thought out and consistent and also like stories with description of the manufacture and capabilities of the hardware that's being used, this novel will fill the bill. It kept my interest and I definitely want to know what will happen in the next installment.
If you are like me and find that the first part almost drags a bit, I'd advise sticking through it all because it will pick up and if you have read and enjoyed the first book then this one won't disappoint. There are about a handful of strange grammar glitches along the way, but not anything too disturbing. Sometimes a duplication of a word on either side of the word it is modifying.(Almost as though the wording of the sentence was changed at some point and a deletion was missed.)
If you like all the science stuff or the military science fiction then this will definitely take care of your needs. For those who like the suspense of international politics; there's a heavy dose in the mix. This is all paced well with action and plenty of conflict.
Something for almost everyone.
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