Galactic War… again: Reviewing Nick Web’s ‘Warrior’

warrior1

Review by Curtis Cole

                Lo and behold: the second installment to the Legacy Fleet trilogy. Reader, you and I are both sailors on the galactic sci-fi winds, we know how these military sci-fi affairs go: mostly, they are reactionary patriot gore fests. As my previous review illustrated, I was none too happy with Webb’s less than progressive diatribe, and yet, I enjoyed the tale with enough machoistic fetish to not only finish reading it in short order, but also review its offspring. Previously, I took offense with the author’s unbridled Ageism, militarism, and xenophobia. Does the sequel add up? Does it quell some of the more nauseate rumblings in my literary tummy? The answer is no.

Why the sequel leaves a bad taste in my mouth is that even though, over all, the intensity for its backward thinking has been dialed down a couple notches, in the narrative places which matter, it compensated by ratcheting it up by twelve degrees. While some of the Ageist sentiment has waned and overt racism slackened, the author revives tired old traits to make up for the supposed lessening, namely, his waxing eloquently on bodysnatching and political fascism.

Spoiler alert(s): the communistic aliens are able to ‘condition’ people through the use of a virus which hijacks their immune and nervous system. Essentially becoming organic machines for the alien foe known as ‘the swarm,’ these converted people attempt to ‘befriend,’ infect, others and so act as sleeper agents for the anti-human enemy, double-agents forced to betray their people. This is, of course, reminiscent of the classic film critical of the anti-communist hysteria in which ‘bodysnatching’ became the concern of the day. (Of course, it would seem the democratic emphasis of the film is lost on Web, as he promotes the witch hunt mend-set) Conveniently for Web, this fits in well with the xenophobia concerning the stereotypical Western punching bag—the big bad Russians. As a not so subtle twist reveals, the Russians were hardly neutral parties. Why such a putrid and lazy form of national chauvinism still exists is beyond me, but as in the first volume, I am deducting points for its inclusion.

Not to be outdone in the political arena, Webb continues his tradition of apologizing for capital by clearly depicting the trappings of a fascist order as something which, if not entirely desirable, is at least necessary in order to starve off decimation; he speaks of how “entire industries [were] coopted by the government and re-geared to produce capital ships and fighters… instead of [civilian articles]” (68[1]), how warmongering politicians conspire behind the public’s back to produce weapons of mass-destruction so as to attack human allies (161), all while rallying the working and middle classes (135) to a banner of total war, in defense of human values and civilization; truly, one only needs replace ‘the swarm,’ with ‘Jew’ or ‘communist’ and the depths of Webb’s diatribe becomes evident. Obviously, Web’s writing is not to overt, but the ideological underpinnings (ultra-nationalistic paleoconservatisism), shine through and suggest much.

Side-stepping the politicalized content, however, Webb’s book is as well as one can expect from a right-wing rip-off of Battlestar Galactica: it has epic space battles, political intrigue, and plots within plots, conspiracy, and a battle hardened captain fighting for what he believes in against overwhelming odds. The writing remains fantastic, as this entry I finished in a single day. The writing is not bad, it is just reactionary and vapid. Picking up right after the conclusion of the first installment, the action picks up from the first few pages onward and does not relent. Fans of military science fiction in the vein of the lowest common denominator will be sure want to pick up a copy of this treat, if only for the cavity inducing side-effects.

Warrior: Book 2 of the Legacy Fleet trilogy

Nick Webb

368 pages. Published by Nick Webb/CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. $5.99 (Kindle)[2], $14.58 (Paperback)[3]. 2015.

[1] All page citations taken from the Kindle version of the book.

[2] All prices taken from Amazon.com and were accurate at the time of writing.

[3] Page numbers taken from the Kindle version, with estimates provided by Amazon.com.

The Road of Cliches: Reviewing book one of ‘The Safanarion Order’

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It may be unexpected, but while reading Ken Lozito’s first installment in the Sanfanarion Order series—Road to Shandara—I was reminded of Japanese Role Playing Games (or, JRPGs). Much like JRPGs, Lozito’s plot is predictable: there is a young hero discovering his powers, a princess in disguise, and the land needs to be saved from a malicious evil, but only if the hero can unite the disparate forces through the power of friendship. The narrative functions in much the same predictable way. With moments of action interspaced between moments of travel, moments in which the protagonist learns new skills to use in battle, the whole narrative feels lifted straight out of a video game (an unremarkable one, too); honestly, from the uneven pacing to the airship and the general developments, plot-wise, Lozito’s entire effort feels like a cobbled together tale imitating high fantasy. Poorly.

For a protagonist we have Aaron Jace, a university senior looking forward to graduate school (also known as Generic White Bourgeois Hero ripe for adolescent reader projection); unfortunately for our Mr. Jace, he is suddenly thrust into an inter-dimensional battle against the forces of evil when his grandfather dies and he learns that he is descended from a long line of powerful rulers who immigrated to Earth after their kingdom fell to an invading army of demons. (It must suck to live in Tolkein’s nightmare.) Now, armed with familial swords—AKA generic phallic symbols legitimating dude-bro violence— and the training his grandfather drilled into him, he crosses over into the land of his ancestors so as to make his way to the defunct capital—Shandara (roll credits!)—and liberate the imprisoned spirit of a family servant sworn to protect and help Aaron on his path to restoring the land; for you see, the land has fallen into decay after the ascension of some misbegotten tyrants. Along the way Aaron meets allies who flock to his banner, including a love interest and some best bros. This is the gist of Lozito’s plot.

But let’s pause and consider: uneven pacing. Aside from the cannibalization of other text’s ideas, most notably the obvious pilfering of Arthurian minutia, my biggest issue with Lozito’s book is that the pace moves absurdly fast and features hardly any character development. The one dimensional figures gain little, if any, depth while the protagonist’s fighting and survival abilities, not to mention his love interest, are festooned to his personage with mastery in the space of but a few short chapters; if there was ever a moment of ‘Zero to Hero,’ then this is it. Said again, the book explains nothing; events move in a linear direction without any idea of what the protagonist is experiencing: sometimes we get some vague idea of what he is thinking about or going through, but most of the time we just see things happen… boring things, too. To take an example textually paradigmatic: his romantic interest—she and he fall in love, literally, in the space of a few chapters and are married shortly after. This is not only unrealistic by any normal standard, but also confusing, since one would imagine that the protagonist would have hang-ups on finding a new love so quickly following the murder of his Earth-bound girlfriend. And yet, Aaron makes, again, literally, no mention, not so much as a single serious mental peep, concerning his previous engagement and hurls himself full throttle at this new woman without even so much as an acknowledgement at what drove him to move on so quickly or how and why he fell so madly in love with this new paramour; the best that I can come up with is that Lozito wrote the start of this book and the middle and end parts at different periods, possibly even part of different writing projects which were then later sown together in this later stage. As I said, this sort of void in character development, is poor writing; it shifts without explaining the subtending rational. Moreover, it is endemic to every part of the text.

All that I can say is that this is a shame since I can imagine how captivating this adventure would be had it been constructed with a more meticulous eye; should the author spent more time explicating the world and its inhabitants, and devised more intriguing methods of description and dissemination concerning his representation of the hero’s journey, this could have been a powerful read. I do not mind when fantasy authors borrow ideas from popular culture as Lozito does (ranging from the Lord of the Rings to even some Anime like Naruto), as I understand the fantasy-science fiction nexus only as good as the ideas each contributor is able to meld. But as it stands, this installment is anything but interesting: shot through with shoddy grammar, redundant phraseology, and poor story-telling mechanics, this effort, though not terrible, is far from the sort of material fans of fantasy enjoy; Lozito may make a valiant effort, but I cannot recommend this book.

Road to Shandara: Book one of the Safanarion Order

Ken Lozito

412 Pages. Published by Acoustical Books LLC. $0.00 (Kindle), $14.99 (Paperback)[1]. 2013.

[1] Page estimates taken from the Kindle version of the book and were provided by Amazon.com. Prices, likewise, were taken from the same source and were accurate at the time of writing.