Review of Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos

March 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Lines of Departure by Marko KloosLines of Departure
By Marko Kloos, read by Luke Daniels
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 28 January 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 discs; 10 hours

Themes: / military sf / basic training / overpopulated earth / battle armor combat / aliens / marriage / mutiny / mathematics /

Publisher summary:

In the sequel to Terms of Enlistment, a desperate battle for interstellar supremacy pits man against man and humanity against aliens in an epic tale of vicious combat and political deception.

Vicious interstellar conflict with an indestructible alien species. Bloody civil war over the last habitable zones of the cosmos. Political unrest, militaristic police forces, dire threats to the solar system…

Humanity is on the ropes, and after years of fighting a two-front war with losing odds, so is Commonwealth Defense Corps officer Andrew Grayson. He dreams of dropping out of the service one day, alongside his pilot girlfriend, but as warfare consumes entire planets and conditions on Earth deteriorate, he wonders if there will be anywhere left for them to go.

After surviving a disastrous spaceborne assault, Grayson is reassigned to a ship bound for a distant colony—and packed with malcontents and troublemakers. His most dangerous battle has just begun.

In Lines of Departure, Marko Kloos picks up where Terms of Enlistment left off. Earth is overpopulated, various terrestrial governments are still warring with one another in space as people colonize the stars, and there’s a new nearly indestructible alien species that appears determined to exterminate mankind.

The combat scenes are crisp and the action flows at a nice clip. For the majority of the narrative, we tag along with Andrew Grayson as he along with his fellow NAC troopers battle the Lanky, the new aliens on the block. Again we are plunged into a universe where the Chinese, Russians, and North American Commonwealth manage to still fight one another in space as they simultaneously battle the eighty-foot tall Lanky.

Kloos writes a nice sequel, but unlike many others, I didn’t feel that Lines of Departure was as strong as Terms of Enlistment. Still, this is a good Military SF book and worth your time. I like the military hardware, interactions between troops and civilians, and the realistic paradoxical bureaucracy that apparently still plagues humanity’s future.

My favorite scene? Andrew Grayson having breakfast with his mother in a small Vermont diner. I like Military SF combat, and Kloos writes good combat scenes. But the breakfast is something special. Character development happens seamlessly, dialogue feels effortless and natural, and there is some genuine emotional growth occurring. I could almost taste the food, smell the coffee, and feel the heft of the menu and napkins.

The ending is good, maybe not surprising, but it’s true to the story and well written. Nice Job, Mr. Kloos. Thank you for not overreaching. You gave me what the story needed, and you resisted the temptation of adding too many whirly-bangs.

Luke Daniels narrates the audiobook, and turns in another outstanding reading.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. If you’ve read Terms of Enlistment, you’ll want to give this a go.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Review of Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos

March 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Terms of EnlistmentTerms of Enlistment
By Marko Kloos, read by Luke Daniels
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 28 January 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 discs; 11 hours

Themes: / military sf / basic training / overpopulated earth / battle armor combat / aliens /

Publisher summary:

The year is 2108, and the North American Commonwealth is bursting at the seams. For welfare rats like Andrew Grayson, there are only two ways out of the crime-ridden and filthy welfare tenements, where you’re restricted to 2,000 calories of badly flavored soy every day. You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service. With the colony lottery a pipe dream, Andrew chooses to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth. But as he starts a career of supposed privilege, he soon learns that the good food and decent health care come at a steep price . . . and that the settled galaxy holds far greater dangers than military bureaucrats or the gangs that rule the slums.

The genre is Military SF. The year is 2108. Andrew Grayson, a welfare kid from the slums, enlists in the armed forces, and the journey begins.

In Terms of Enlistment, Marko Kloos fails to score any points for originality. But I’m okay with that, and you should be too. Yes, Kloos appears to reboot Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. So much so, that some of the similarities are awkward and eerie (see basic training and the coed showers). The big difference between Heinlein and Kloos is that Heinlein was deliberately hyperbolic, whereas Kloos is not. In Heinlein’s universe, humanity fights bugs. With Kloos, we see an overpopulated Earth, the Chinese and Russians still battle the West, and humans have begun to colonize other worlds; we are the bugs now.

Kloos writes in the present tense, and barring a few anachronistic banana peal phrases, the writing is solid and strikes a brisk pace. I liked discovering a narrative where future humans have shed Earth’s gravity but still cling to terrestrial grudges. Kloos doesn’t write a unified humanity gathered in a handholding sing-along, rather, government’s war over resources, and the only way out is bound to military service or the space colony lottery.

I listened to the audiobook, and Luke Daniels delivers another standout reading. Keep up the good work, Mr. Daniels. Each audio cd begins and ends with a musical track overlay, and while it doesn’t completely ruin the audiobook experience, the music is distracting.

If you’re a fan of Military SF, battle armor, and combat, then you’ll probably enjoy this book. Be aware that this story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, which is picked up in Lines of Departure, the second book in this series by Marko Kloos. No spoilers here, but I absolutely love the aliens that Kloos creates.

Posted by Casey Hampton.