The Slaver Wars: Alien Contact by Raymond L. Weil
What do you get when you combine BSG with Stargate? Perhaps somewhat surprisingly from the title and from other books this author has written, you get exactly this exact combination from The Slaver Wars: First Contact. Now it definitely doesn’t start down that path … in fact the early chapters of the book are more of a standard Military SciFi story similar to other books reviewed on this site:
Now I don’t want you think in any way that this is a bad thing … after-all they do say that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” … & if you’ve read any of the other reviews on this site, you know that I love those series’ that are seemingly based on the Master Of Orion game & its massive space battles which is what I thought I was getting when I first started reading the book. It took a drastic and dramatic change in the latter half of the book though and set us up for a quite compelling series of books to come which was an extremely pleasent surprise for me!
The book starts with a fleet in deep space looking for details about the size of a vicious alien enemy that had just recently decimated a series of Human colonies. We get a very large and extended flashback about the actual first contact itself as well as a look at the battles that took place before we’re once again returned to this fleet and its search for the enemy. While I wanted to get to the action quicker, I actually appreciated this flashback as it gave a very good insight into the character of the leaders of the human fleet and to some extent the motivations of the invaders also.
Returning to the present, the fleet manages to dispatch some cloaked scout ships into the heart of the alien Empire and it is here that they learn the disturbing truth. Not only are they facing a Slaver Empire thousands of planets strong, it is controlled by vicious AI’s with their own, unknown agenda.
Returning to the Human Federation, this fleet finds itself the only remaining viable force left as in their absence the Slavers had returned to the Federation and decimated all of their worlds leaving only a handful of civilian and naval vessels unharmed. The survivors however learn a secret however – one known only to a handful of people in the Federation. Tellus was not really their homeworld – they came from a planet far away called Earth!
Fleeing from the
CylonSlaver tyranny, the last Battlestar GalacticaFederation Fleet leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest… a shining planet known as Earth.
What I liked
- The fleet battles were very well written – while the weaponry as mentioned below is not really on par with what you’d expect and in some ways pulls you out of the story, the actual conflicts between ships are described well.
- I really liked the Admiral and his crew. Quite a few of the supporting characters are also well written and I hope to see quite a bit more on them or their progeny in future stories. There is no immediate romance, but a gradual building up of affection over time which makes sense.
- The enemy – again lots of similarity to other similar foes from both Television and fiction – is interesting and believable. They seem to have their own story also which it would be interesting to get more information on in the future.
What I didn’t like
- I’m a bit on the fence in regards to the originality here. I have to admit that the way it was done was good – in fact the whole introduction of Earth v.s. Tellus was not only unexpected it, in some ways made sense. However, it almost didn’t need to happen at all … another excellent series in a similar vein is the Exodus: Empires at War series. Here Earth is decimated by a larger alien fleet and humanity flees to escape the purge only to have to face those same enemies thousands of years later. While I’m not suggesting that Mr. Weil would have been better served to copy Doug Dandridge, my point is that there are other solutions to get to the same place.
- It’s been pointed out by some other reviewers and I won’t belabor it here, but the weaponry seems to be significantly underpowered considering the overall technology of the fleets in question. Nukes in the multi-kiloton range and lasers as primary weaponry do not really give the fleets the firepower they deserve.
- While I know there needs to be a stupid politician – it’s almost a necessity in books of this nature it seems! – again you almost didn’t need that to get to the same point? While the military is (of course) perfect and blameless, a little bit of snooping on the part of the enemy would have got them to the same place?
I know I’ve harped on a bit about how this book riff’s from some of our most popular fictional universes, but overall it was a good, fun read that I quite enjoyed. I’m really looking forward to seeing how we eventually kick the Hoklyn’s and their Overlords back to the center of the Universe and I’ll be picking up the next one in this series soon!