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Posted June 20, 2012
This story opens up with a startling image of men in a spacecraft looking down on the smoking remains of the Himalayas. These men are human, and numb -- because they just dropped the bomb that destroyed their homeworld. Under orders, of course. Jack Commer and his three younger brothers are treated as heroes, or at least formidable warriors, for having done such a thing. But they don't feel like heroes. They have issues. And when they discover that their fight is far from over, we get to see what they're really made of.
Human beings tend to hate and fear what they don't understand. This has not changed by 2034. When creepy things begin to happen on Mars, the new home for mankind's survivors, no one knows what's real and what's simply the stress of losing Earth to war and militaristic hardball. Now Jack and his men are facing the heretofore undetected, indigenous race of Mars, elusive, arcane creatures who are capable of things that are difficult to understand. This has the feel of futuristic swords and sorcery, the universal conflict between masculine and feminine forces in a psychological context.
The author's use of weaponry and technological systems is outstanding. Shatterguns, super bombs, death rays, spaceships, terraforming and advanced mind control are well thought-out, believable and nicely integrated into the action and politics of the story. But technology is always under development, it rarely works just as you want it to when you need it most -- and when it does, it often introduces new problems. This is good science fiction in that the technology reflects the strengths and shortcomings of its inventors.
The early parts of this tale are subtly shadowed by uncomfortable questions about events such as Uranus sailing by the Earth like a hockey puck or the moon exploding, irreversible cataclysms that have left an indelible, collective scar on the human race. But as it unfolds, a clever if not beautiful way to heal begins to reveal itself. This requires the heroes to be open-minded and to view what begins as evil, weird, and too different to accept -– not to mention dangerous -– in a more evolved light. The rub is that these are the selfsame trigger-happy soldiers who, until now, have only contributed to the problem.
Enter the shock of grief, the confusion that comes with knowing things are not as they seem, a wicked human warlord -- and the indecipherable wiles of a gorgeous, intelligent woman -- and Jack Commer is put to his greatest test as a warrior and a man. For he is not a perfect hero. He melts down, makes crazy decisions and throws his weight around with love and hate until it seems certain he'll doom everything. But somehow, his charming histrionics open paths that would have remained closed had he not punched a hole in the sky. This is a tale of hope, regeneration and evolution; anything is possible, the heart will prevail, and sometimes it takes a cataclysm to show us what's important.
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Posted February 22, 2012
I am one third of the way through Martian Marauders and I smile with each page. Science Fiction is not a favorite reading genre for me: with few exceptions, most of the offerings seem scattershot and unfocused, introducing new creatures and human characters with each chapter and leaving the reader’s brain clogged.
Michael D. Smith’s novel jumped into the fast lane by quickly establishing main characters and how and why the reader should find them of interest. The book is set in a reasonable future milieu that encourages exploration and the pondering of “What if?”
I fully expect the book to continue to keep my interest high and take me on a memorable journey.
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Posted February 21, 2015
Various reviews here have summarized the story. I won’t repeat the details here. I’ll just say that there is much more to this book than is implied because you wouldn’t want a plot spoiler anyway, and no one had done that. I loved Jack. His ineptness with women was charming in a way, and his shaky fate with Amav was both intriguing—will he win the girl of his dreams—and amusing. From the first paragraph to the last, the characters and their tale will keep you turning pages. I read the book in one day. That’s a record for me. I got into Martian Marauders and couldn’t put it down. There are many smiles on the pages of the book—like the interview with Huey Vesperine. I actually laughed aloud, yet I shed a tear or two earlier. Mr. Smith knows his stuff, both the craft of writing and the technology required to fabricate an enthralling sci-fi. I’m on to the next in the series! Join me in following the adventures of Jack Commer. You won’t regret a single second.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.