Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Book Review: Crimson Worlds I Marines

A good book is hard to find.

It wasn’t always like that. There was a time when as soon as I’d put down one Honor Harrington novel I’d pick up the next. Things took a wrong turn in that series when the author failed to kill off the main character in At All Costs. Outright disaster came to pass when A Rising Thunder turned out to be just the first half of the book that was supposed to come out. Maybe I’ll come back to this series again later, but I just don’t have time to read gigantic half-books about characters I’ve stopped caring about and that don’t really resolve anything. I can’t stand getting to the end of a book only to find that I just been set up for the next one. Give some closure here, you authors!

Anyway, after looking around and making several false starts, I finally found the Crimson Worlds series. Sarah Hoyt had been saying how military science fiction hand been doing really well on the indie scene and lo and behold, Amazon has a top 100 section dedicated entirely to Space Marines. (Wow… so nice of Games Workshop to let them do that!) Anyway, this guy Jay Allen pretty well dominated the top ten… and I decided to find out why. With the Kindle edition only being $3.00, I felt like I could afford to take a chance. (And really… I can’t justify paying ten bucks or more for throwaway fiction anymore. I realize that inflation has occurred, but in my mind… you should be able to get a decent book for under five dollars and a comic book for seventy-five cents.)

So… this book. People say it’s sort of like Starship Troopers fan fiction. I disagree. Okay, no… it is not of the same caliber as my all-time-favorite science fiction books– Foundation Trilogy, Dune, Childhood’s End, and Ender’s Game– but it is good stuff. It is less about “philosophy” and politics than Heinlein’s book and more about the fighting. And boy, is there a lot of fighting in here. It basically is an instruction manual on how all kinds of science fiction military operations would go down.

If you wanted to understand why Frank Chadwick focused so much on command and leadership limits in Striker, this will explain it. If you’ve never actually played Azhanti High Lightning, this book will illustrate exactly how these large spaceship assaults would actually play out. If you ever wondered why jumping in your powered armor would tend to get you shot in Steve Jackson’s Battlesuit, this book will spell it out for you. The book only mentions it in passing, but the extremely tense space colony situation in what it calls The First Frontier War is almost exactly like that portrayed in The Final Frontier. Oh yeah… another thing you’ll find out reading this is that BattleTech is way off base when it makes you harder to hit just for running really fast. (Don’t you know to crouch down, zigzag, or even crawl…?)

Anyway, this book is a solid good read. I couldn’t put it down. I had it on my Android phone and I would read it at stoplights, waiting in line at the grocery store, when I was taking walks… I read it everywhere. And if the phone was maybe not ideal, it at least was always with me and never lost my place. If you are a space gaming junkie, then I can totally give a strong recommendation for this book. People will say it’s a Starship Troopers ripoff, but I say that this is Striker: The Novel. Though there’s not much in the way of grav-tanks in this– it’s more about how you organize your company, what kind of orders you can give, how fast the soldiers can respond… and what you do with that heavy weapons squad.

I enjoyed this one a lot. Yeah… it does sort of lead directly in to the next book of the series, but it isn’t completely shameless about it. I’m going to have a hard time keeping myself from devouring the next one in the next week or so here…!

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