Strength and Honor
Daw, Nov 2008, $24.95
The Roman Empire never died; it just went underground waiting for the right time to emerge. That time came when FTL ships made traveling to the stars possible while the internet connected the Romans all across the globe. They took a spaceship and colonized the planet Palatine, modeling it after the ancient Roman Empire. They have since colonized planets all over the galaxy and they have conquered their sector of space. Caesar Romulus declares war on the United States for breaking a treaty which America never did.
It is believed that Romulus’ father was assassinated on his son’s orders and the Patterner Augustus is still on the USS Merrimack determined to pay Romulus back for killing his Caesar. In a surprise move, Romulus has his troops attack the United States; while they hold their own the government orders the space armada to attack Palatine. Romulus has a plan to conquer earth and make it another Roman colony, but someone who is dead reaches out from the grave to try to foil his scheme. Captain Farragut of the Merrimack is in the thick of the hostilities on earth and Palatine even as Augustus makes a move and the Hive feels regenerated.
R.M. Meluch writes a fantastic military science fiction tale with vivid battle scenes, intricate plotting, and great characterizations. Although Earth and Palatine are home planets to humans, their cultures are radically different, making it seem like two diverse species. The key element is how well the author makes a case that war is waste and the fool’s folly of politicians who care nothing about expendable soldiers except the bottom line. The Patterner (a super cyborg who seeks intelligent patterns in the midst of seemingly random chaos) adds to the overall feel of a distant future in which the earth is still at war.