Passage at Arms
Written by: Glen Cook
Published by: Night Shade Books
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”no” align=”left” asin=”1597801194″ cloaking=”default” height=”500″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51v-S4Wp0VL.jpg” tag=”buzmag-20″ width=”309″]Think military sci-fi, and names like Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman and David Drake come to mind. Then there’s Glen Cook. Writing during a time when military sci-fi was just getting off the ground (thanks to the Viet Nam War and movies like Star Wars), the author of Starfishers and >The Black Company series managed to do what was thought impossible at the time-take the entertainment out of militainment. Not only were his characters gritty, grimy, and grouchy, life in Cook’s interstellar battlefields were hardly something worth writing home about.
Passage at Arms is no different, a novel about the mundane life of an interstellar crew that is anything but pedestrian. Twenty five years on, it remains the gold standard for what military sci-fi should be-Heinlein and Drake notwithstanding.
Told from a first person point of view, the novel is the story of one man’s frightening tour of duty aboard what’s called a “Climber”, equal parts sub, merchant vessel, and cruiser, if subs could travel through space. Tasked with transporting some of the most important cargo in all of humanity, the job of the crew is to keep the human race fed and alive. But keeping themselves alive is a tall order in itself, not when they’re sitting on a glorified nuclear reactor, and not when they’re busy dodging the powerful and scary Ulant fleet, an alien race hell bent on making sure humans don’t get to be fruitful and multiply.
Faced with literal life and death, the 48 man crew of this 910 ton vessel have endured it all. From meltdowns to show downs with some of the most fearsome ships at the other firm’s disposal-or die trying.
Terse, and to the point, the novel is a periscope view of life aboard a cramped vessel, full of sweat and danger. Even as it becomes increasingly clear that there is no escape for all aboard, it’s hard not to turn the page. Hands will become damp. Hearts will flutter. No one will be able to look away.
Passage at Arms isn’t just good sci fi-it is the Das Boot of an entire generation.
John Winn – Staff Writer
Watch The Glenn Cook Interview with Buzzy Mag.
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