Military SF has always exercised a fascination over me and I was pleased to come across all nine of these books relatively cheap. The story, which at least party counts as space opera as well as military SF, follows the development of the USMC through the early space age to an age where humans are effectively god-like creatures. The background is simple enough, yet very elaborate. As the human race probes into space, they encounter signs of alien life and alien threats, including one near-omnipotent race that is attempting to destroy every other race in the universe. All of this takes place against a background of human politics and social development.
The first trilogy focuses around the discovery of alien ruins on Mars, the Moon and Europa, with a war triggered on Earth by the discovery of workable alien technology. The second trilogy focuses on interstellar exhibitions and war against alien races, finally ending with the first confrontation with the ultimate threat. The third focuses on a terrifying war with said ultimate threat and the final destiny of the human race.
Internally, the story follows a set of families with a long history of being involved with the Marines. This actually strikes me as odd; one of the main heroes of the Marines (and his two descendents from the later series) is portrayed as signing up against the will of his family. His descendents have the same problem. They may be soldiers, but they also seem to have an uncanny knack for marrying people who don’t approve of the military. The characters in the story may not have precisely identical histories, but they rhyme.
The author shows considerable imagination and an eye for technological development, fully the equal – in that regard – of David Weber or Peter F. Hamilton. Parts of the series can be read as speculation as to how training methods will improve as technology advances, other parts can be read as warnings about the dangers of technology without social development. For this alone, the series is well worth reading.
What is considerably less impressive are the politics. It may made sense, in the first book, to have the French portrayed as sanctimonious idiots, the UN as a deeply corrupt organisation and the Muslims as fanatical foes of liberty. It makes little sense for the same attitudes to be present in a post-scarcity society. The warriors go in and take land; the diplomats give it away freely, unheeding of the human cost. One would figure, after Earth had been bombarded, that no one would be talking of peace with a race that didn’t even bother to paint itself as a victim, but idiots on Earth try right up until the end. Grr.
It’s well worth a read, but there are times when you will want to throw the book right across the room.