Military science fiction is a common enough subgenre of literature, film, and TV. Some of the most beloved sci-fi works–like Ender‘s Game or Battlestar Galactica–prominently feature military characters, settings, and themes, so it’s not hard to imagine that they inspire a lot of other military tales as well.
Of course, not all of them are as well written as the abovementioned examples. Case in point, Techno Dynasty by Ryan Philips.
The Story: Boy Meets Alien, Shoots Him In The Head
When aliens attack a human outpost, they steal blueprints to an experimental weapon that must be retrieved at all costs. A team of five elite soldiers is sent out to locate the plans and deal a solid blow against the aliens that stole them. All this is achieved in a story that’s only forty pages long, and while that might seem impressive, I had the same complaint for this story that I had for The Scarlet Cloth.
It moves too fast for the reader’s convenience.
The Cast: That One Guy, That Other Guy, And That Girl…
Case in point, the main characters. Apart from their squad names–Predator, Crusader, Tracker, Hunter, and Kitty–they have no real personality or distinguishing features. Well, maybe with the exception of Kitty, being the token female and having the only feminine squad name, but that’s about it. They have a lot of witty banter in and out of combat, but again, we don’t see much of their personality beyond it, so it’s not like I have any appreciation for their sense of humor.
The aliens themselves are given even less personality, if such a thing is possible. They’re identified only by their species’ names–like the Steras and the Scutters–and given very brief physical descriptions. Beyond that, they’re just a malevolent entity for the sake of dramatic tension.
The Plot: As Only Forty Pages Can Deliver!
Beyond the lack of solid characterization, this plot was just too quick and easy. It seems like the troopers have access to every kind of equipment they would need to get out of a tight spot, and except for being captured or nearly killed at a few points, they don’t seem to ever have any real setbacks. One team member is presumed dead in the climax, but of course, he’s soon revealed to be alive without much fanfare.
Final Verdict: Nice Try, Maybe Next Time
I can tell that there’s an attempt to keep things moving and provide some witty banter to offset what’s supposed to be very dramatic moments, but the dialogue reads as a bit cliche and there’s no real drama or memorable characters to carry us through. Techno Dynasty is quick, not quick-witted; concisely written, but not for the reader’s benefit.
Bibliography: Philips, Ryan. Techno Dynasty. Pittsburgh: Dorrance Publishing, 2007.