Manxome Foe - John Ringo, Travis S. Taylor

In the list of reasons to read a new author and a new series, add this: I was upset that a sequel to the excellent Armor was never published, so in frustration I tried this book out. If ever there was a setup for disappointment, here was a perfect example.

But ... I was pleasantly surprised. Manxome Foe is opposite Armor in tone, the former being light, as the butter on Panera's toast, and the latter, serious, as a bout of asthma. However, in both cases, the approach is fitting. Manxome is candy to Armor's sour core. Oddly appropriate that I would go from one to the other. The two novels' most striking similarity is the alien enemy --- unyielding, overwhelming and ultimately dumb. (Somehow, these aliens remind me of the Pak of the Ringworld books, purportedly smarter than man and yet bound by the programming of their genetics.)

creature with teeth like the vorpal blade

Ringo and Taylor make it feel like nothing's happening, as the story flows thus: "they flew here" then "they flew there" and, then "the marines made fun of each other". Along the way, the characters meet astonishingly trusting aliens as the tale builds up to the inevitably final battle with the bad guys. There's also a lot of plausible physics to feed us SF geese, not distracting and not absolutely essential to the story, but adding to the fun. The light tone remains even through the most bloody and high-casualty scenes, as if to say, this is not what this story is about. So what is it about? To me, the book spoke of the continuity of life, human or alien, despite the inevitability of death. Quite profound, eh? In overall sum total (does that mean 3 times the whole?), I enjoyed the book.

This would be a worthwhile read for anyone who: (a) has just finished Armor, and been depressed by its utter melancholy, (b) is not annoyed by military humor and gory violence, and (c) likes John Scalzi.