cover image Surface Action

Surface Action

David Drake. Ace Books, $4.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-441-36375-9

Earth has been destroyed by the nuclear folly of her children, and mankind's remnant now lives in dome-enclosed colonies on Venus. Will history repeat itself as warring factions threaten to reintroduce the scourge of nuclear weapons? Not if Johnnie Gordon can help it. In this poor example of juvenile pulp fiction, our 19-year-old hero joins his uncle's mercenary fleet on the planet's inhospitable surface, and racks up an impressive and bloody body count before concluding that war is hell and humanity must unite to survive. Drake ( Hammer's Slammers ) comes at you with the subtlety of a flamethrower, and the politics and personalities of the story serve only as incidental background for the military hardware and naval engagements at center stage. Most of the violence is harmlessly cartoonish: the casualties are bodies, not human beings. The final scene is more troubling, however, as our young hero is maneuvered by his uncle into killing a potentially dangerous rival officer. The end, the book seems to say, justifies the means. In fact, it is an unjust--and immoral--ending to a mindless book. (Oct.)