Thursday, April 24, 2014

Earth Unaware review

This week I decided to review Earth Unaware by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. The book opens onboard the El Cavador, a family owned and operated asteroid mining ship, which is finishing a trade with a larger clan of Italian independent miners. Victor Delgado, a highly skilled mechanic, also discovers that Alejandra, his closest friend and second cousin, has been sent away with the Italians because the family fears they are falling in love. Soon afterwards Alejandra’s younger sister, who is assigned to man the craft’s sensors, contacts Victor to ask his advice after she discovers what appears to be a large alien spacecraft approaching Earth’s solar system at high speed. Unfortunately, the family’s attempt to inform the clan which they had been trading with, and a nearby corporate ship of what they have found, fail. To make matters worse, the corporate vessel, which is seeking test targets for a new system designed to destroy asteroids and allow easy access to the riches within, attacks the El Cavador so they can use the asteroid it is mining as a test target. The attack cripples the El Cavador, including disabling long range communications, and while the El Cavador moves to rendezvous with the Italians, hoping for aid in repairs, the aliens intercept the Italians first and by the time El Cavador reaches them the Italians have been all but wiped out. Victor is sent to warn Earth on a high speed  and typically unmanned cargo ship while they form an alliance with the corporate ship that had disabled them to launch an attack on the main Formic ship by dropping teams to plant explosives on its hull. Meanwhile a young officer named Mazer Rackham is undergoing testing to join the most elite military force on Earth, a force whose commander seems to be among the few who take the possibility of alien attack, based on rumored events occurring in space, seriously.
I give the book a 7 out of 10. The story was interesting, and I mostly enjoyed it but most of the Earth scenes not linked to Victor’s arrival and post-arrival actions seemed to be added just to take up space, and I feel they could have been saved for one of the impending sequels. Also I found the battle scenes somewhat disappointing, especially the part where they resorted to dropping landing teams on the Formic craft. I vastly prefer space battles that are fought ship to ship or fleet to fleet, and take time to fight out  rather than those that involve one group dropping troops on a ship while hoping the target doesn’t decide to fry them with one shot.

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