How bad is the upcoming mission facing the battle-hardened Marines of 34th Fleet Initial Strike Team (FIST), the military’s unofficial alien first-contact force? Bad enough to make the brass take the unprecedented step of issuing 34th FIST replacements for combat losses before the Marines even leave their home base.
In response to a series of unexplained deaths on a lonely outpost on the frontiers of human space, 34th FIST has been dispatched to investigate–and eradicate– the problem. Beyond that, the information available to Gunnery Sergeant Charlie Bass and his men is meager even by Marine standards. No one knows what awaits them, for the newly colonized world remains largely unexplored. That means 34th FIST can expect creatures they have never seen, or even heard of, much less trained for. It could be Skink acid shooters, could be anything, for the barren station has several secrets–all of them deadly.
This is another enjoyable book in the Starfist series. With few exceptions I have enjoyed most of the books in this fairly long book series. They are generally quite well written books by an author that knows his “marines stuff” well enough. The only real gripe I have with most of the books is the authors’ tendency to pick really really ridiculous (childish) names for a lot of the places and ships in the books and this one is not an exception to that.
Although there are constant tie-ins with the “Skink” story arc this book is really a bit of a detour from that part of the Starfist series. Personally I think that is not a bad thing since it creates a bit of variation in the stories. A large part of this book is more of a exploration mystery story than the previous marine deployment stories. I quite liked this. Naturally, the marines have a tendency to use their blasters when “exploring” so a good chunk of the countryside gets shot up.
The author throws in a side-story just for good measure which takes over in the last couple of chapters just when the marines thinks that they are about to go home. The book would have done well even without it but it does not hurt the book either even though one of the characters in these parts of the book is so unbelievably stupid that it is sometimes a wee bit annoying to read.
Anyway, the famous bottom line is that this is a quite enjoyable book to read.