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Thursday, December 26, 2013

REDLINERS by David Drake



Published in 1996 by Baen

David Drake is well-known for his various series of military science fiction books. Redliners is a rare stand-alone book for this prolific author. 

There is a struggle between humanity and an alien species called the Kalendru. The Kalendru are similarly built to people, more slender and covered with fur. But, unlike people they cannot conceive of the idea that humans and Kalendru can coexist as equals since their own society has no such concept. They have a definite pecking order within their own society and they want to put humans below the Kalendru in the galactic pecking order.

Strike Force Company C41 is roughly analogous to an American Special Forces unit - they are elite soldiers, they are sent in when the situation is nigh-well impossible and in this case, Strike Force Company C41 is pretty much used up after an attempt to create a beach head during an aborted attack on a Kalendru planet. The soldiers are tired and suffering from combat fatigue, PTSD or "the thousand mile stare." The current term for this condition in this book is Redlined, as in pushing an engine past its safety limits on a tachometer.

The computer-enhanced leader of humanity decides to re-assign Strike Force Company C41 to something that should be fairly lightweight duty - providing security while a new colony is established on Bezant 459. The company is surprised since they are not really ready for extended public contact - they have been prone to violence when told, "No" by people outside of their company.

But, they head off in a quickly made transport designed to be broken apart to provide the start of a new colony once they arrive. But, on their way they learn that scans of Bezant 459 show that it is an unfriendly place in the extreme. Even the plants actively hunt the animal life. The Strike Force works out a rough plan only to find that they don't land in the right location, the ship is damaged during the landing and the plant life is much worse than they ever imagined. It is enough to make settlers and soldiers alike to wonder why they were even sent here in the first place...

Filled with brilliantly-described battle scenes, Redliners is a throwback science fiction adventure. Sadly, the ending falls a bit flat, making this a 4 star book out of a possible 5 stars.

Reviewed on December 26, 2013.

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