Review: “Earth Alone,” Daniel Aronson

Pros: Interesting start to a military sf story
Cons: One big plot hole
Rating: 3 out of 5

Daniel Aronson’s Earth Alone: Earthrise Book 1 depicts a dystopian future in which huge centipede-like aliens regularly try to invade earth. They have a handful of extremely nasty attacks, so people die en masse and horribly. Because of this war all people are drafted into military service for five years at the age of 18. We follow Marco and his adopted sister Addy as they go through an incredibly punishing basic training.

 

The entire book is about Marco (who would rather be a librarian and a writer), Addy, the new people they meet, and how they all (or most) survive basic training. From latrine cleaning to weapons training it’s all there. 60% of the world’s population is gone thanks to these aliens, and it’s crucial that the military turn out tough troops ready for what’s ahead.

I wouldn’t say the characters are the most three-dimensional I’ve ever seen, but they do have depth to them. It’s just enough to be able to say that Aronson produced some good characterization, but not enough to make me shed any tears over a character’s tragedy. Marco tended to magically find the best in everyone, which seemed a little unlikely, but not too bad. The basic training, too, doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but it still held my interest.

The biggest problem I have is this: nukes. They’ve already nuked the alien planet once. The author explains that now they’re in a war of attrition, but there’s no reason given for why we haven’t just kept nuking them into the stone age. This isn’t a situation where they have to worry about the global politics of nuking a neighbor. The enemies aren’t humanoid, so there’s no empathy issue to worry about. This is a pretty big plot hole, because without some kind of legitimate explanation, the entire premise of the book is cracked open. Maybe the aliens have a huge fleet that serves as their home now and it’s a lot harder to nuke a fleet than part of a planet. Something like that. As long as there was a reason that made sense I’d be happy, but unless I missed it, it’s just a gaping plot hole.

I haven’t yet decided whether I’m going to read the next volume.

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