Friday, April 29, 2016

James Review -- Tau Ceti Agenda: Trail of Evil

This week I decided to review Tau Ceti Agenda: Trail of Evil by Travis S. Taylor.

The story begins a few years after the end of the Martian Separatist Wars. Former President Alexander Moore is now the commanding general of a task force hunting for hidden bases left behind by the insane AI Conpericus. Moore also seeks to understand what drove Sienna Madira, herself a former US President, and Moore’s mother in law to change her identity and become the leader of the Separatist movement. When the story begins all Moore knows is that it began with then Senator Madira and Conpericus receiving some form of alien message one hundred and fifty years in the past.

After capturing a base established by Conpericus, the task force discovers an address for quantum teleportation. This leads to a planet where part of the team discovers a hidden quantum teleporter leading to a mostly abandoned fleet combining United States and Separatist technology. Meanwhile, the task force’s lone super battlecruiser finds itself boarded by hostile robots. Despite desperate fighting, including blowing a chunk of the ship out to prevent the machines from hyperspacing it to an unknown destination the flagship is soon compromised beyond recovery.

Fortunately, the warship claimed by the recon team returns in time to rescue their remaining allies. After receiving massive reinforcements to man the recovered fleet, they send a recon team to 61 Ursae Majoris, believed to be the source of the transmission Madira received so long ago. They find a planet inhabited by human clones, many of them cloned from members of a battalion Alexander Moore belonged to when it had been captured, with Moore as the only survivor, and Sienna Madira herself.

Eventually, what has been driving Madira for fifteen decades is explained.  (SPOILERS) The Chiata, an ancient and ravenous species with a tendency to strip mine solar systems similar to Earth’s, until nothing is left regardless of if the worlds are inhabited, have a seventy millennia old legal claim to Earth’s solar system and they are beginning preparations to claim what they consider to be their property. Madira started the civil war in hopes of creating a military to defend humanity as well as setting up bases to block the Chiata’s route of advance and havens for humanity to flee to should Sol fall. Knowing that the Chiata have other enemies Moore decides to launch an attack to bloody the Chiata’s nose in hopes of convincing other alien powers that humanity is wirth allying with. But this will require leading his forces into battle against an enemy with massive numerical advantages and unknown weapons and tactics… (END SPOILERS)

I give the book 7 out of 10. I thought the combat sequences were very well written and the portion of the story where the task force is following the trail to Madira was well done, as well as doing a decent job keeping the exact motive of the aliens involved hidden until late in the tale. However, I feel that some questions were left unanswered needlessly and that the final engagement of the battle that serves as the book’s climax needed much more coverage than it got. And I find the fact that whoever wrote the description of the story on the back cover clearly couldn’t be bothered to read the story first; annoyingly, the back cover claims the book is set one hundred and fifty years after the events of previous book when it is actually set around twelve years after the prior book.

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