Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on October 11, 2020
Alanson's main character, Colonel Joe Bishop has been juggling lots of
balls. Or perhaps a more apt metaphor is the spinning plates you used
to see on variety shows, with the performer starting more and more plates
spinning on sticks and then ending up having to run frantically from
plate to plate, re-spinning them until finally there are just too many,
and they start crashing to the stage.

Bishop has been working frantically behind the scenes to keep the galaxy's
warring races from realizing that Earth still exists and that it is not
under any other species control. Since Earth does not have galactic
technology, all he has is two ships and the help of the absent-minded and
egotistical Elder AI, Skippy, who has his own reasons to help. Having run
from plan to plan, and then to deal with the consequences, from scheme to
scheme, Bishop is all in. After the last scheme collapses, it is now
inevitable that the galaxy's top races will visit Earth, see what is going
on and casually wipe out Humanity. They are on the way, there is nothing
Bishop can do to stop it, and Skippy is.. not himself, or more than himself.

This book marks a turning point in the series. Up to now, Bishop has been
working at one thing. That having failed, and Bishop having introduced
the galaxy to an unloved, but effective, 20th century strategic concept,
the focus will have to change to understanding the Big Picture and unraveling
why things are so awful.

I am not totally happy with this book, as Joe was mopey for so long
that it was detracting from things. That is the problem with a
setting where you, the reader, know that things will, more or less,
work out but the characters do not. I tend to get a bit impatient
with "woe is me" when I know that "woe" is not the endgame. I also
dock it a bit for a thinly justified deus-ex-machina involving
the bolt-hole system. Given that Alanson just used deus-ex in his
"Mavericks" sub-series, I thought he had way overplayed that card.

I hope the new direction for the series brings in some fresh air as
I felt the last few books (main series and sub-series) were subpar.
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