Steel World: Undying Mercenaries, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
In the 20th century Earth sent probes, transmissions, and welcoming messages to the stars. Unfortunately, someone noticed. The Galactics arrived with their battle fleet in 2052. Rather than being exterminated under a barrage of hell-burners, Earth joined their vast Empire. Swearing allegiance to our distant alien overlords wasn't the only requirement for survival. We also had to have something of value to trade, something that neighboring planets would pay their hard-earned credits to buy. As most of the local worlds were too civilized to have a proper army, the only valuable service Earth could provide came in the form of soldiers…someone had to do their dirty work for them, their fighting and dying.
I, James McGill, was born in 2099 on the fringe of the galaxy. When Hegemony Financial denied my loan applications, I was kicked out of the university and I turned to the stars. My first campaign involved the invasion of a mineral-rich planet called Cancri-9, better known as Steel World. The attack didn't go well, and now Earth has entered a grim struggle for survival. Humanity's mercenary legions go to war in Steel World, best-selling author B. V. Larson's latest science fiction novel.
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|Listening Length||12 hours and 7 minutes|
|Author||B. V. Larson|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||December 03, 2013|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #14,926 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#111 in Hard Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#390 in Space Opera Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#393 in Hard Science Fiction (Books)
Top reviews from the United States
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Then there is the technology, and it is universally "deus ex machina"--technology that performs miracles, with no attempt at explaining anything about it. The revival stuff is complete BS. Many other science fiction books, some excellent ones, include revivification as a possibility. But you are ALWAYS revived to the point of the last full backup. There is no way these soldiers are backed up so completely that, after waking up in a new body, they remember their LAST FEW SECONDS OF DYING. I guess the author wanted to include this so he could have the characters get all emotional--well, as emotional as 2D cardboard characters can get--about the experience they went through. But it is impossible to suspend disbelief, and if disbelief cannot be suspended, then the book is worthless. I got about halfway through and then couldn't go any further. I know it is going to be more "go into battle, get shot at a lot, kill some aliens, die, get revived, pretend to have meaningful interactions with the other cardboard characters". No thank you.
This review is on Steel World by B.V. Larson. This is the first book I have read by this writer. It won’t be the last.
To say the least, I was not expecting this type of Military Science Fiction. For starters, who would think that human mercenary soldiers fighting saurian reptiles, which included raptor-looking dinosaurs called “Dinos” for short and huge T-Rex looking theropods called “Juggers” on a hot, dry planet called Cancri-9, would be so entertaining and memorable. Cancri-9 is called a “steel world” because it is a mineral rich carbide planet made of iron and carbon and other rare metals in high demand by the alien rulers.
In the story, James McGill is an underachieving, online video gaming, third year college student who is forced to drop out of college when his family runs out of money. He decides it is time to leave home and get a job. In his case, James thought it would be a snap to join one of the space-going legions and become a mercenary that fights wars on contract for the Hegemony and Galactic Governments. You see, humans are only allowed to exist if Earth sends human legions to fight other aliens on contract as needed. The Galactics run the show and humans provide the muscle under strict conditions. The good news is most soldiers survive to fight another day, even if killed in battle, unless you get “permed” by accident or some other unfortunate circumstance. You will understand the situation a lot better when you read the book.
Unfortunately, it is a lot tougher than James thought to join one of the most popular legions. It seems they only want people to do what they are told, follow the rules and not be independent thinkers who can cause trouble. James ends up signing with Legion Varus, a bottom of the barrel, loser outfit many people think. It seems the legion gets “wiped” a lot. So begins James six-year military experience.
This book reminds me of several other great stories I read with similar themes such as The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, Old Man’s War by John Scalzi and Armor by John Steakley. All these books are original stories with good plots, entertaining action scenes and memorable characters.
What makes this story so entertaining is the style of writing. B.V. Larson writes the story in the first person, which makes James seem so realistic, unpredictable and human. The dialog is humorous, blunt, irreverent, witty, descriptive and fast paced. I laughed out loud several times as James examined his dire situation and cursed the outcome.
I give this book five stars because it is original and imaginative, with memorable characters, extremely well written dialog and numerous battle scenes full of surprises. This book will end up as a classic military science fiction story. I hope B.V Larson writes a sequel. Enjoy.
Top reviews from other countries
James McGill star of this epic,is one of most enjoyable and interesting characters i have read in a long time .When Amazon sent me there recommend list I clicked on book 12 i bought and started to read it and realised I read the previous books,but I read them years ago so back to book one because I enjoyed them so much.Another good thing about Amazon they tell you that you have bought them before with a date
A little like Starship Troopers the movie, packed full of action and over the top aliens. Just don't take them seriously and you will probably enjoy them. Sometimes it's fun to read something that isn't trying to baffle you with science and techobabble.
There are similarities with more than a few military novels, whether of the science variety or not. One well-trodden path is that of the new recruit who discovers what a military life means in one of toughest human military outfits. Of course, our blue-eyed boy will become an outstanding hero: again, no surprise here. Another typical ingredient of this kind of book is that it is “fast-paced” and “action-packed” (it really is, by the way). It is a page turner, to use yet another conventional expression. You also need to note that this book, unlike quite a few others of its kind, is largely free of typos, which is also something that makes it more readable.
The context of the story is interesting. By the middle of the 21st century, Humans have been contacted by “the Galactics” and integrated into their Empire as a fringe and vassal race. They have also been largely confined to their planet by this lose federation of alien races from the core of the galaxy, all of which are vastly more advanced than Humans and all of which (or at least the two species we come across in this volume) consider the Humans are barely sentient and half savages whose main talent is to wage war.
In an interesting twist which does not exactly present Humans in a flattering light, each species is required to specialise in one area. It uses this one expertise for which it has some kind of monopoly to obtain the “galactic credits” that will allow it to acquire technologies and use the services of other races. The Human speciality is that they make good mercenary soldiers, and our hero becomes one of them. Unfortunately for the Humans, one of the alien races decides it wants to add an extra competence to its portfolio of skills, up to now specialised in mining. This of course leads to a some very brutal contests that take place under the eyes of the Galactics who act as referees to ensure that the pre-determined rules of engagement are respected by both sides.
An additional twist is that these alien technologies are integrated in human military outfits. Space ships are built and run by one species, including all Legion troop transports. Rifles and made by another for all other alien species. A third race builds machines that replicate sentient beings and can replace them as soon as they die. The point here is that whole Legions can be “wiped” (meaning be wiped out) and yet survive to fight another day, sometimes the very next day.
There are perhaps a few weaknesses. I found that the book lacked a bit of context and depth. I wanted, for instance, to learn quite a bit more about the structure of government of Earth and the contact with the Galactics that lead to it. Another point is that the “resurrection machines” that can replicate both bodies and minds like some kind of tri-dimensional super-photocopier seemed a bit too good to be true. In particular, the side-effects of these “re-growths” – feeling wobbly and a bit of dis-orientation but no other side-effect or major psychological trauma than some nightmares - did not entirely convince and sounded a bit “too easy”. Moreover, the long-term effects of getting oneself killed time and time again must be rather damaging, although this theme might be covered in further episodes since this is our hero’s very first campaign.
This is a good title and a good read, despite a few weak points. If you like military science fiction, you will probably enjoy this one (and the following two episodes), even if it is not entirely original. Four stars, after some hesitations and because I liked it, despite everything else.
There are similarities to "Starship Troopers", Full Metal Jacket" and any other story which follows the life of a new recruit from training, through baptism of fire to becoming an experienced soldier. Larson has added something special to the mix. Although the legionnaires can die, due to alien technology they can be reborn minutes later ready to go back into the breach. It is the alien races that make this book a cut above many others.
The Galactics, races from the core systems, control the newer race. They consider Humans to be barely sentient and ripe for genocide except for the one thing they have which few other races can offer. At their best Humans are fighters, the most vicious and most tenacious soldiers available.
Written in the first person "Steel World" is the planet where James McGill finds his role in life as one of the Human Legions under contract to fight the lizard rebels of Cancri-9, also known as the Steel World because of the super abundance of heavy metals and rare earths which make up the crust of this very hot planet. The fighting is brutal, the pace is sometimes breath taking and the characters interesting and varied. Larson is destined to become a "great" in my opinion and I will soon be reading more of his books. I just hope Steel World is not a one-off as I would like to read more about McGill and the mercenary legions. Very highly recommended if you like action novels.
A very good book which has made me want to read the sequel Dust World (Undying Mercenaries Series Book 2) Kia (my friend's son) is already on this sequel and he says it's very good, so I am looking forward to getting and reading this one too.
A note on the Kindle version of Steel World: Perfect. No problems at all.