Thursday, September 19, 2019

Earth II: You Have No Honor (Virus/Earth II #3), by Ray Jay Perreault (author), Raymond Perreault (narrator)

Raymond J. Perreault, September 2019

This is just a lot of fun.

Be aware it's the third book of a trilogy, but I didn't find that to be a problem. There's enough information salted in on the backstory that I picked it up pretty quickly and understood enough of what the characters were responding to.

A massive pandemic has wiped out a large part of the human population of the planet, and now alien ships are in orbit and sending smaller ships down with robot crews. They seem to be ignoring the humans, and indifferent to life forms that aren't attacking them. Machinery is something else, though--so aircraft and naval ships, for instance, are treated as threats. The surviving human population, in the government and military around the world, are trying to mount a defense against the aliens.

Meanwhile, the US has, or had, two supercomputers, Julius and SIMPOC, which were released by the deaths of their creators, and have made themselves mobile. SIMPOC is programmed to help humans. Julius, on the other hand, seems to have been programmed for maximum paranoia. Julius is determined to wipe out the biggest threats to its existence, which is to say, SIMPOC and the remaining humans.

Then there's the question of the aliens, and their agenda. They, or their robots, seem to be focused on Earth's resources, but to what end? Once the robots have achieved control, will colonists be coming? Or will reinforcements arrive if the robots take longer than expected to achieve control?

We're following several groups as they try to respond to the crisis. At the Space Consortium, Joan and Tom Herl, respectively head of the Mars colonization project and chief engineer, and SIMPOC, along with the rest of the team, need to figure out how to best support the team on Mars, give them the best chance of getting home--and then how they're going to help resist the invasion. The scientists and engineers on Mars have made some useful discoveries, though, and may be in less of a crisis, at least least of an immediate crisis, than those back on Earth.

The President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others at Norfolk (where what's left of the government has relocated after unfortunate events in DC), are trying to organize a military defense--and face the uncomfortable choice of whether to make an alliance with the Russian forces. We also see the different US Navy fleets confronting the alien forces and figuring out by trial and error what works and what doesn't. One interesting bit is the Lieutenant j.g. Darlene Drummond, senior surviving officer on an aircraft carrier after the virus hit, who has managed to get the ship with its less than skeleton crew back to Norfolk. Once there, she happily awaits the assignment of a new captain, only to find out that, in the current crisis conditions, she is the new captain. They don't have extra personnel hanging around, and she proved herself able to handle the ship in a crisis.

In the Pacific, a fleet is making its way to Hawaii after the virus, when they learn they're now confronting an alien invasion, and the base in Hawaii is of course also understaffed due to the virus.

And of course, there's the paranoid supercomputer, Julius, who views the aliens more as a potential opportunity than a common threat it ought to be working with the others to defeat. This doesn't, though, mean that the aliens ought to trust it.

There's a lot of good characters here, whom I enjoyed getting to know. Perreault also manages to keep all these different subplots moving and making sense, as the story build toward its climax.

This is, as I said, a lot of fun, and very exciting. Perreault also does a very good job reading his own work, which is not something you can count on. Voice acting is a very different profession than writing, and not everyone develops both skills well.


I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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