When All Seems Lost
William C. Dietz
Ace, Nov 2007, $24.95
The interstellar war with the ruthless Ramanthians remains heated as the vicious insectoid race fights to the death with no rules except to win. They physically overwhelm their opponents on the battlefield by accepting mass deaths on their side in order to subjugate as slaves any survivors of their pandemic slaughter.
The Ramanthians are unaware they captured President Marcott Nankool, the head of their strongest adversary, Confederacy of Sentient Beings. They send him to a labor camp where the POWs slave until they wish to die before they become food for the billions of hatchlings. One of Nankool’s incarcerated aids, human diplomat Christine Vanderveen knows that any one of his loyal supporters could give away the president’s identity in exchange for better conditions, which means death. She will kill anyone who might betray the president.
Ambitious Vice President Leo Jakov orders the military to do nothing as he insists Nankool is dead and he is the president. However, Legion General William Booly ignores the unimpressive buffoon and assigns Captain Antonio Santana to lead a volunteer suicidal rescue mission that Tonio accepts because his beloved Christine is one of the prisoners.
William Dietz is known for his action-packed graphic military science fiction thrillers (see FOR MORE THAN GLORY and FOR THOSE WHO FELL). His latest Legion of the Damned novel is all that, but much more as the author uses the conflict to enable fans to look deeply inside the various cultures. As expected, the Ramanthians are the most interesting as their society accepts the loss of millions in combat. The human and other alien prisoners form a prisoner group that initially bands around keeping Nankool safe; but becoming hatchery food makes everyone reconsider. The military and the politicians also have contrasting subgroups, as the politicos are self serving while the military are heroic. Mr. Dietz’s legions of fans will appreciate WHEN ALL SEEMS LOST.