Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Robert Buettner's "Orphan's Alliance"

Robert Buettner is a former Military Intelligence Officer, National Science Foundation Fellow in Paleontology, and has been published in the field of Natural Resources Law.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to Orphan's Alliance, the latest installment in the bestselling Jason Wander series, and reported the following:
Well, reformed skeptic here. Page 99 does tell all!

Orphan’s Alliance continues the story of Jason Wander, war orphan, accidental Major General and terminal wise-ass. It’s about mankind’s long war with aliens who sucker-punch Earth. It’s about big monsters, bigger starships, and human allies who act small. But the story’s gut is orphan infantry grunt Jason’s bond with the comrades in arms who become his - and every combat soldier’s - family.

Therefore, how better to begin page 99 than by Jason listing those comrades? Jason tells how a massive starship’s shuttle, "Delivered Howard, Ord, Jude and me from orbit."

Ord, Jason’s basic-training Drill Sergeant, has become Command Sergeant Major to Jason the General, surrogate father and son. Ord is sort of Alfred the dryly omniscent manservant to Jason’s headstrong Bruce Wayne. Preternaturally gifted pilot Jude, Jason’s godson, wedges the surrogate father-son shoe on Jason’s other foot. Intelligence officer geek Howard fills the role of mentoring uncle who knows more than he tells, Ben Kenobi with tape-repaired glasses.

On page 99, Jason describes shuttling from orbit, dismissing war’s politics and technology with the dark humor that keeps infantry grunts sane:

B-Class cruisers like Kabul, because they manipulated gravity, weren’t confined to space by their lack of aerodynamics. They could theoretically sink gently and majestically down through the atmosphere, and land on a planet’s surface, like a bigger, fireproof version of the Hindenburg.

But a cruiser costs more than the Gross Domestic Product of Peru. Therefore, the starship designers didn’t really want to test whether something as big and complex as a B-Class was strong enough to sit on the ground without collapsing under its own weight like a wet Dixie cup.

However, our arrival on Tressel resembled the Hindenburg’s, anyway.

Uh-oh. The series rollercoasters from one untidy "uh-oh" to the next, because it tells the truth that, as Churchill said, "War is mostly a catalogue of blunders."
Learn more about the author and his work at Robert Buettner's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue