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Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines, 1) Paperback – January 28, 2014
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“There is nobody who does [military SF] better than Marko Kloos. His Frontlines series is a worthy successor to such classics as Starship Troopers, The Forever War, and We All Died at Breakaway Station.” ―George R. R. Martin
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: 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 debut novel from Marko Kloos, Terms of Enlistment is an addition to the great military sci-fi tradition of Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, and John Scalzi.
Revised edition: This edition of Terms of Enlistment includes editorial revisions.
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“Much like Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and its sequels, Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure are combat-grade military SF, and should come with an addiction warning.” ―io9
“Frontlines is earnest, optimistic, and fun, even as it deals with subject matter that’s intrinsically grim. It’s a story that strikes the perfect balance between escapism and serious reflection, and it’s the perfect military sci-fi series to escape into for a week or two.” ―The Verge
About the Author
Marko Kloos is the author of the Frontlines series of military science fiction and is a member of George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards consortium. Born in Germany and raised in and around the city of Münster, Marko was previously a soldier, bookseller, freight dockworker, and corporate IT administrator before deciding that he wasn’t cut out for anything except making stuff up for fun and profit. Marko writes primarily science fiction and fantasy―his first genre love ever since his youth, when he spent his allowance mostly on German SF pulp serials. He likes bookstores, kind people, October in New England, fountain pens, and wristwatches. Marko resides at “Castle Frostbite” in New Hampshire with his wife, two children, and roving pack of voracious dachshunds. For more information, visit www.markokloos.com.
- Publisher : 47North; Revised edition (January 28, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 334 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1477809783
- ISBN-13 : 978-1477809785
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #203,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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So our hero signs up, goes through boot camp, which is the usual torture, except he meets a girl, and then at the end they are all sent to one of the different areas. There is the overly coveted Navy positions, the Marines that work in space either on the ships or on the colonies, or there is the TA, the Terrain Army that stay on Earth and look after home. No one wants the TA as it is looked at as being the worst of the jobs, dealing with the welfare places when they riot etc. Of course, the girl gets Navy, and Andrew gets TA.
So the start of this book does have some similarities to Starship Troopers, as a lot of other reviews have said, but that is only because of the boot camp and the girl who goes to Navy. At the end of the day, Andrew ends up with Halley, and they stay in touch, long distance.
Andrew goes to TA, finds he loves it, meets his team who become some of his best friends, and realises that the whole space deal is not all it's cracked up to be. The real comparison that should have been made to this book was Black Hawk Down, as part way through the story, a mission to control one of the welfare areas goes wrong, and then a dropship is taken out – and you can almost hear the call ‘We have a Blackhawk down, we have a Blackhawk down’, but instead, it's a dropship down. And all of a sudden, all hell breaks loose, and a large part of this book is taken from the movie, just with more modern tech as they try and rescue the crew of the dropship, and ultimately, rescue themselves in the middle of a PRC that has gone to the darkside.
Not to say that was a bad thing. This was a good introduction of the Characters, the concept of the various elements such as the Navy, the TA, and some of the characters that are key to the story in this and future stories. It also gives a good understanding of the background of Earth and its current predicament, especially things like the PRCs, I mean, we complain about welfare now, but Kloos’ future makes now sound like a fairy-tale in comparison
Kloos has a good understanding of Military tactics and operations, and describes them well in the story, making this a good Military Sci-fi read. Well worth the read, I am into part 3 already, they keep getting better as they go on.
AILS Automated Instrument Landing System
BNA Basic Nutritional Allowance
CDB Combat Drop Badge
NAC North American Commonwealth
NNC Neural Networks Center
NIFTI Navy Infrared Thermal Images
PDP Personal Data Pad
PRC Public Relations Cluster
SRA Sino-Russian Alliance
TA Territorial Army
TI Tactical Interface
UWTF Urban-Warfare Training Facility
Honestly, I purchased this 5-book Frontlines series due to the over abundance of positive reviews and the total cost of only $6.25. Prior to purchase I had only read and was pleased with this book's Sample. I haven't read beyond the first book but hope the old adage "you get what you pay for" doesn't apply to the remaining books. If so, my bad!
This book is a military sci-fi set in the year 2108. America is a commonwealth where the poor live in massive welfare cities where violence is the norm. Moving up in society is basically impossible. Andrew Grayson is one of the welfare rats who can’t help but dream of a different life. One of the ways to achieve his goal is a lottery ticket for a colony world in space. The odds are abysmal and the system might be rigged. The other is the military. Andrew’s test scores are good enough to earn him a slot in military boot camp. He just has to survive it.
I really, really enjoyed Andrew’s story. While Andrew can be self-absorbed, I was rooting for him from the beginning. I really liked the plausible version of the future envisioned by the author. This book isn’t a deep exploration of culture, politics, or morals but it is entertaining. Plus there be aliens! It is fluffy and fun and full of action. It was a quick read that completely held me attention and I read it in one sitting. I don’t have a lot to say about this book other than that.
The only real negative is that there are 5 more books in the series! Yikes. I will have to find time to read them all. Arrrr!
This book reminds me of those first years of my enlistment. There were no conflicts or dangers but many moments of beauty found no where else or again.
Top reviews from other countries
You get the theme of over-populated and largely polluted Earth, with the “North American Commonwealth” (the NAC, a substitute for the countries that actually belong to the Alena treaty: Canada, the United States and Mexico) alone packing a population of three million and the whole planet an (implausible?) thirty billion. The population is divided between those that have jobs and earn a living for themselves and the “welfare rats” living in crime-ridden and crumbling welfare tenements and receiving two thousand calories of tasteless processed food a day. Our hero, one Andrew Grayson, is one of these second-class citizens and comes from one of these depressed neighbourhoods in Boston. His only way out, since winning win the lottery by drawing a ticket for a colony ship settling off-world is a pipedream, is to join the armed forces, and its supposed privileges.
This where the theme of the brave, loyal and dutiful “grunts” and their NCOs, all of which are let down by their mostly scheming and/or incompetent officers, except, of course, those which have risen from the ranks. They are the “silent heroes” who get handed hopeless jobs and, at best, token rewards for having accomplished them against all odds or used as scapegoats by “pencil-pusher” officers when something goes wrong and there is “bad PR” as a result.
You also have the theme of the space colonies on painstakingly terraformed planets. Here again, the interpretation is a rather grim one. It costs a fortune and takes decades to make each planet habitable. It also costs a fortune to transport people in space and populate the planets and cryogenisation does not seem to be on the cards in this series. The point here is that, far from alleviating Earth’s over-population issue, the colonies are one of the major drains on the resources of the major powers, and on the NAC’s in particular.
A fourth theme is that of human pan-continental states waging a kind of “tepid war”, neither really “cold”, because they go up against each other and attack each other’s space colonies, nor “hot” because the conflict does not erupt into full blown (nuclear) war on Earth. The conflict has been opposing the NAC and the Sino-Russian Alliance for the last half century, and it is a second source of government spending expenses, with the welfare spending being the third.
A fifth theme is the arrival of unknown, near invincible and all-conquering aliens also looking for new “real estate”. Apart from their appearance, which is deliberately at odds with their advanced technologies but which I will refrain from describing in order to avoid spoilers, they are deliberately shown as inhuman. They are neither “nasty” nor “nice” aliens. They just come in huge seed ships and take over the new colonies one by one, filling them up with carbon dioxide, destroying the human settlers directly if they resist and making the planets simply inhabitable to mankind.
The main value of this book for me was that the story was entertaining, exciting and easy to read, even if quite predictable. The “military action” is rather good, even if the characterisation does include a number of stereotypes (the “no messing” Sergeant Fallon, in particular). As long as you do not start probing too much and wondering to what extent any of it could really happen in a century or so (the action takes place from 2108 onwards), you will spend a few pleasant hours, or at least I hope you will. I did and this is my reason for rating this book four perhaps generous stars.
Trying to escape a fate of living in a hellhole on earth, one of ten billion lost souls with nothing better to do than watch TV and collect government handouts, Andrew Grayson decides to join the navy. Unfortunately, he gets assigned to a less-than-salubrious mission: as a member of the army assigned to keep the self-same hellholes that he was living in, under a tight thumb. Things don't work out as planned, and he goofs big time, earning him a discharge into a different service, which is where things start to get really interesting.
I absolutely loved this book, and after reading it instantly bought the whole of the rest of the series that was available. Nothing in the book comes across as a coincidence, and the author doesn't use deus ex machinas to solve crises, nor does he visit a constant stream of woes upon them, to seem like the ordeal of Sisyphus. The whole storyline plays out very naturally, and nothing feels 'forced' in any way. I was extremely impressed by the accuracy and the pacing of the military action parts of the book itself.
Although some of the settings may seem a little derivative, when everything is put together, this is a truly unique journey. It tells the rise, fall and rise of the protagonist, and shows it through the lens of an unfolding sequence of events that eventually leads to the disastrous discovery of an alien menace which is wonderful in the lack of actual information which is given about them in the book. They remain mysterious and inscrutable, which is perfect for a malignant enemy.
The characters are all very well crafted, and each has a flaw, or a strength which gives them a roundness that makes them interesting to read about. The book starts off right at the beginning, with the cadets going through basic recruitment, and follows them as they find themselves tossed around as military and political pawns, until they come face to face with the new threat.
I loved this book, and it's a brilliant start to a new series!
The characters are reasonable and I liked the descriptions of the army actions. They have the feel of Iraqi-type urban fire-fights we've heard about and I guess that is what the author has based those sections on. The soldiers kit is futuristic but not overly so and the tactics seemed realistic. As do the inevitable failings in the urban operations. However, I couldn't help wondering about some obvious methods overlooked, especially regarding air cover that seemed not available in the earth operation but was readily deployed on the colony planet.
I also had a bit of problem with the aliens as described on the colony. Spacefaring and able to terra-form (not really terra, I suppose) a planet, they seemed to act like a herd of elephants. However, the story stops before we know for sure that these creatures are the technological beings responsible or whether they are just there as part of the terra-forming process carried out by another species. Book 2 will hopefully clear that one up.
And on that note I'm off to start book 2......................