cover image Patriots


David Drake. Tor Books, $23.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86245-9

A modern master of extraterrestrial military mayhem (Northworld, etc.) weighs in with a grand, roistering space opera based loosely on the exploits of American Revolutionary Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys. In the 23rd century, two sets of bureaucrats, one from Earth's rebellious colony of Zenith and the other from the colony Hestia, are parceling out identical tracts of land on the frontier planet of Greenwood. Moreover, they're doing this without the consent of Greenwood's spare, cranky population, rugged individualists spoiling for a good fight. The leader of the inhabitants of Greenwood is the larger-than-life Yerby Bannock, a quintessential frontiersman whose quick wits and homespun morality pack as mighty a punch as his enormous fists in the cause of Greenwood's freedom. Drake's young city-dude hero, Mark Maxwell, who's touring Greenwood from the buttoned-up world of Quelhagen, makes a perfect foil for Bannock. Together, they rally Greenwood's good ole boys and some formidable pioneer women, throw off the colonial oppressors and join the Quelhagen-led Assembled Planets, a noble experiment in interstellar democracy. Drake's minor characters form a rogue's gallery of familiar cowboy-movie stereotypes, and the science in this fiction is minimal, but the good grungy fun rushes to a satisfying, if predictable, conclusion. (Nov.)