My attempt to get through all fourteen (or whatever it is) of the Kris Longknife (aka Mary Sue) series this year, continues apace. This here is volume seven of the series, so I'm half way through, but I can pretty much cut & paste my review from previous volumes since they all run along the same lines. Indeed, I routinely copy the title from a previous review, and simply change out the third word, and it seems like the review could follow that same sort of principle since the stories are typically so formulaic. This is one reason I am not a fan of series, but I think even the author was getting bored with himself since this one was rather different in some regards - but depressingly the same in others.
This departure made it interesting to me to begin with, but it went downhill pretty quickly. I don't know if the author couldn't flesh out a plot for his usual "the hapless Kris & crew stumble upon a remote planet which the rival Peterwald family is trying to take over, gets into bombings and firefights, wins over the local down-home populace with her self-deprecating style and comes out victorious," or what, but this one failed disastrously. There seemed to be no intelligence built into it at all. Kris meets the Iteeche. They refuse to talk to anyone but Kris's "Grampa Ray," despite the fact - we learn later - that channels have been kept open with the Iteeche! It all comes down to this impossible 'chance' meeting in remote space between the 'son' of the Iteeche leader and the daughter of the Human leader? It's not remotely credible.
From the point onward, the story meanders pointlessly. The aliens, which the author makes a valiant attempt at rendering them alien initially, turn out to be exactly like humans in everything but physical appearance. They're more like centaurs with beaks and extra arms, yet they're purportedly descended from an aquatic species. And despite this, Kris finds herself physically attracted to the leader? What?!!! The Iteeche young are spawned in shallow saltwater and left to the mercy of predators, until they're later "chosen" by an adult to raise to adulthood. These then become 'family'.
This makes zero sense from a biological and evolutionary perspective. No organism on this planet, least of all the sentient ones (and with an odd exception or two such as the cuckoo), grow and raise young in this manner. It couldn't work for a truly human-like species, notwithstanding the fact that humans have historically adopted children here and there. I'm talking about biological evolution here, not culture.
It's a sad fact that Americans are really poor at science and it's also a fact, in my opinion, that we'd get better sci-fi if we had a better science education, but given that the US reading audience is just as poorly educated about science as far-too-many sci-fi writers are, I guess it doesn't really matter in the final analysis, does it?! Except that we'd get far better and more compelling and engrossing stories if this sorry state of affairs was rectified. There's a quiz at the link. I got 100%, which surprised me, because I thought I might have missed at least one question, but at least now I can say I know what I'm in the top 6% and I know what I'm talking about! LOL!
Back to the novel in progress. Instead of getting Ron directly to King Ray, the perennial Lieutenant Kris meanders through space to visit her "aunt" Trudy because of problems she's been having with her personal computer, Nelly, which are never actually resolved. Far from it. Instead of fixing it, Nelly buys computers for the closest people in Kris's retinue, so the problems of one computer are now exacerbated several-fold. Only then, when Kris has her personal needs taken care of, does she get back to the diplomatic mission and they go visit King Ray, who offers them nothing whatsoever, so off they trot into space. Kris never stays on the ground.
Instead of going off investigating the Iteeche disappearance problem, she calls in at a planet named Texarkana which is based on American (surprise!) interests and which has a city folk v. country folk mentality. Yawn. Kris gets blown up, the bad guys are captured in short order, Kris's millions open a bank and the local problem is solved. Everybody loves Kris-who-can-do-no-wrong. Boring.
This one was different in that the usual bombing/firefight was merely an end-note to the main story which was the discovery of the Iteeche in "no man's land" space between the human and the Iteeche empires. Of course Kris does everything right and befriends them even though the evil Peterwald contingent is trying to shoot the crap out of them. This was interesting to me because in every volume the evil Iteeche are mentioned, yet we learn literally nothing of them. There was a huge war eighty years previously, documented in a previous series by this author. I have no interest in reading that. Here we learn something about them, and it turns out that there's something the Iteeche have discovered with which they need human help. I found this a bit too incredible to believe.
The Iteeche have lost three scout ships in a certain part of remote space they were trying to colonize. It would seem like this story would lead to an investigation, but it doesn't - it's merely a cliff-hanger for a subsequent volume in the series, which means there isn't really a story here. This volume is more of a place holder while the author actually thought up a plot for the next volume. It leads to Kris transporting the Iteeche to Wardhaven so the leader - who is known as Ron - can meet with Kris's grandfather, the elected king (don't even ask; Kris is a princess, but her brother isn't a prince?!) of the United Sentients - named that way so the author, who is as gingoistic an American as ever lived, can name his warships the 'US Whatever'. They did the same thing is Star Trek which despite the fiction that it's an all-inclusive united federation of planets, is really American from root to core to stem to bloom. Despite the fact that the United Sentients are supposed to be descendants of the entire planet Earth's population, we only ever really meet white southern Americans with patriotic values and guns.
Then Kris takes the Iteeche back to her own planet and then back again out into space. Huh? We get the usual 'everyone disses Kris and she doesn't even react any more', yet the same people who diss her are utterly devoted to her safety and welfare. Despite having been in firefights and bombings. Kris routinely tries to slip her marine guard and personal body-guard, Jack (the tediously trope-ishly named jack). This is how she gets blown up. She's a moron here.
The marines are incessantly praised as the ultimate mean, tough, disciplined, incapable of failure fighting force, and the reader is constantly hit in the face with this ad nauseam. The author is completely in love with the phrase 'full battle rattle' to the point where it's a mantra chanted endlessly - again, tedious. The author repeats tired old military phrases and similies like they're fresh and new (such as 'no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy') and like the reader has never heard them before - and in this same series.
In addition to this there's the same nonsensical crap about interstellar trade, which is farcical. Yes, even with jump points that allow ships to bypass light-years of space, it is still not economical to transport trade items unless they're desperately-needed items that cannot be grown or fabricated locally, or very expensive items such that the transportation coasts are more than made up for in sale price. No one is going to be transporting weapons or tractors, unless a planet is freshly being colonized. So, yes, I've let more than one volume in this series slip past as a worthy read, but this one I cannot. It was less than it ever should have been and simply not worth reading. I will contend right here that you can skip this one altogether and move to the next in the series without missing anything of import or utility.