Friday, January 2, 2009

40 Years-Bernd Struben

40 Years
Bernd Struben
Srider Nolan, Dec 2008, $9.95
ISBN: 1932045023

They are born, raised and educated for war. Kept in stasis until a mission occurs, the Augmented Combat Personnel (ACP) genetically enhanced soldiers know they are awaken only for conquest. They are humanity’s advanced soldiers in the twelve-century old competition against the Pfrianx to dominate habitable planets not yet conquered by either. The ACP understands he will cleanse an orb of its opposition inhabitants killing millions for the greater good of mankind; they are humane compared to their rivals who simply eradicate entire worlds while the ACP transfer survivors to remote hostile sectors on the conquered planet.

ACP Captain Brink D’Mar awakens knowing instantly his mission is to subdue a planet; this time 40 years beyond the most outer human controlled rock, a military combat deployment mobilization outpost. D’Mar follows the standard operating rules of engagement by offering the local populace of New Columbus (as the humans call it) a chance to surrender. However the native Borell reject the concept as it has no connotation in their language. As the death toll mounts, D’Mar begins to consider adoption of the Pfrlanx ethnic cleansing methodology as he must complete the mission, but to his shock finds pandemic genocide abhoring, a thought not in his upbringing.

This is an intriguing military science fiction tale that looks closely at the ethics of war especially colonization through conquest. D’Mar and his peers face a moral quandary as the Borells seem easy to defeat, but they never give up; willing to die instead. Although he knows none of the brass is near enough to witness any atrocities, the hero struggles with the awakening of ethics as he either destroys the entire populace or what else can he do. Well written and fast-paced, fans will relish this fine outer space saga starring a genetically engineered person who does not blink at the death of a million people as his moral slate was kept shallow and limited to standard operating procedures until the conflict 40 years away from his superiors awaken his conscience.

Harriet Klausner

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