Books Kindle Military Science Fiction

The Earth Conundrum – What a load of nonsense!

This is one of those books that popped up in my recommendations on Amazon. Usually I have enough in my pipeline to not bother about those but occasionally I do go for them just to expand my horizons a bit. Quite often I find some new author that I like or at least another good book. This time I am afraid that my in the spur of the moment purchase was a bit of a mistake. [...]

The Earth Conundrum (Alliance Conflict #1) by Jeff Sims
My rating: 4 out of 10 stars

The Earth ConundrumThe Alliance is desperate to avoid a war with an enemy that outnumbers them. To alleviate their personnel shortage, Captain Solear embarks on a mission to evaluate humans’ fighting potential. The results astonish him.

If he tells the Alliance Senate the truth, the enemy will try to conquer Earth and the Alliance will be forced to stop them. It will start the feared all-out war. However, if he lies, the Alliance may not secure the only resource that could prevent their eventual defeat.

This is one of those books that popped up in my recommendations on Amazon. Usually I have enough in my pipeline to not bother about those but occasionally I do go for them just to expand my horizons a bit. Quite often I find some new author that I like or at least another good book. This time I am afraid that my in the spur of the moment purchase was a bit of a mistake.

I am not sure whether the author wanted to make this book a comedy or if he was aiming for the young adult segment and aimed too low or whatever. In my point of view he failed with whatever he tried to do. This book is definitely not a book for adult military sci-fi readers and certainly not for hard core sci-fi fans. The story and especially the aliens are downright silly. Well, the core of the story is actually one of my favorite type of stories but the implementation is so nonsensical and silly that it is simply not fun to read. The book seems to float in some no-mans-land between a children’s book and a young adult book.

Note that the rest of this review might contain a mild spolier or two.

For starters the aliens believe that humans eat aliens. Not only the children believes this but the adult aliens of a star faring species, who allegedly have watched Earth for 300 years, actually believe that humans will eat them. Another little twist is that some of the aliens on the bridge of a military starship are having emotional fits and starts to cry every now and then. Apparently this is a racial trait. Yeah right, “sorry commander I missed the enemy battleship because I was crying at the time”. Not funny.

Then we have the alien navy in general, or whatever goes for a navy in the Alliance. Military discipline is non-existent and a commander can never rely on his orders being executed. When launching fighters he never knows if and when the fighters will launch since the pilots might be too scared that someone might shoot back at them. What the fuck! He even has to argue with defense and trafic control computers in order to be able to go where he is ordered to go. His XO is baffled when he is asked to get a corridor on the ship painted and in the end asks a civilian relative to do it…in a military stardock! Pilots have to haggle with some useless computer AI to get the missile loadout they need. Of course the alien pilots are totally clueless so they never know what they need but as you surely realize from the book blurb the humans are about to enter into the equation. Needless to say the humans do know what they need.

The nonsense continues when the Alliance council orders a mission to Earth, a mission vital to the survival of the Alliance, and assigns the mission to a small team who by all means are fairly likable but who are clueless about what is actually required for the mission to be a success and are, of course, not properly briefed about this in any way. To make matters worse these people go off on their own to make a few bucks and starts various businesses on Earth. As I wrote above the story is simply too nonsensical to be any fun. The authors knowledge of military matters seems to be next to none as well. The ludicrous alien navy might be an attempt to be funny but destroyers suddenly being larger than cruisers indicates to me that his military “expertise” comes from watching Star Wars.

It is really a shame with all this nonsens since the core of the story is a good one and it could have been a good book. There are a few saving graces. After all the fumbling around, stupidity and aliens running away as soon as the humans try to approach the them (humans eat aliens, remember?) eventually the humans finally gets the chance to show the alien nincompoops how a real military behaves. The results are highly predictable and these parts of the book was actually somewhat enjoyable to read. Not very realistic but quite fun.

Apart from these parts I struggled with dragging myself through most of the rest. I am afraid that this book, while managing to stay out of my rubbish shelf, ends up among my 2 out of 5 stars ratings on Goodreads where, so far, only 4 other books reside today (out of 79 books this year). This book ought to be more clearly marked as a children’s or, at least very very young adult, book on Amazon.

2 comments

  1. Hey-oh. I read this book too, but I think I came away with a much different view on it. I enjoyed it, and thought it was fun. I also liked that the aliens’ military _wasn’t_ very like a human one would be (after all, they’re directly stated to have been peaceful for most of their history. Where would they get the experience needed to fight or design warships properly when they never have wars?) These are personal preferences though.

    However, there is one point on which I have to disagree entirely with you, and that’s “The ludicrous alien navy might be an attempt to be funny but destroyers suddenly being larger than cruisers indicates to me that his military “expertise” comes from watching Star Wars.” I’m afraid you might lack an interesting bit of knowledge about military history – how those classes of warship got those names. “Destroyer” comes from “motor torpedo boat destroyer” – it was a ship whose job was destroying torpedo boats. Cruisers are called that because their job is to cruise around the planet and be where they’re needed. Battlecruisers are either upgunned cruisers or battleships with less armour, to allow them to move faster. Battleships are ships designed solely for battle, with the armour and weapons that entails, whie being bigger and more powerful than other ships. Dreadnoughts are battleships which only have large guns, intended for taking on other capital ships, and they’re named after HMS Dreadnought. The word “corvette” comes from the French for “small ship”.

    The point being, they’re usually named after their _function_, and the specific size often didn’t matter. The role of a cruiser in this book is to cruise around, doing things like scouting, transport, weapons testing or picket missions. The destroyers are for destroying other spacecraft, probably cruisers and corvettes. Battleships are the spacecraft designed for taking on all comers, but doesn’t have any other use. The corvettes are, well, the smallest spacecraft.

    I’m definitely waiting for the next book to come out in December, since none of the other series I read have definite dates for their next books. If you want a suggestion for a book that _I_ thought was bad (If you think my views here represent low standards, then that should give you some idea) try Escape From Aliens by T. Jackson King. The author doesn’t seem to know how human military personnel would act in a given situation, and the dialogue is just poor.

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    1. Hi reddwarfiv,

      Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed reply.

      I am afraid that I, not surprisingly, have to disagree with you on the matter of ship classifications and sizes. I am fully aware of what you are saying and the history behind the ships. The fact remains though that the sizes of these ship classes are what they are and yes this is indeed due to their function but the classifications still stand and a destroyer is, again due to their functional requirements, faster, more manoeuvrable and consequently smaller than a cruiser etc.

      The fact that the destroyer, today, is often the largest ship IN USE by most navies do not change this. Thus I stand by my comment in the review. To say that a cruiser would be smaller than a destroyer etc. is to me ludicrous and detracts from my enjoyment of the book. I think your argument that it is their function that counts actually proves my point. A cruiser will by definition be larger than a destroyer due to the destroyers need to be fast and manoeuvrable versus the cruisers purpose to “cruise around” and project strength. A battleship need to be larger than a cruiser due to it’s need to take a pounding at the same time as it needs to dish out some serious pain. Etc…

      Best Regards

      Per G. Jönsson

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