Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Predation-SJ Parkinson

Reviewed by: Pete Barber

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Approximate word count: 145,000-150,000 words

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Mr. Parkinson was an Air Force avionics technician and a decorated veteran of the Persian Gulf War and several United Nations peacekeeping missions. Predation was his debut novel.


Mankind has developed a Stardrive, and as they begin colonizing other worlds they are attacked by the Drakk’Har--an intelligent race with reptilian characteristics, a brutal feudal society, and a liking for eating live animals (including humans). After three years of attacks, humans strike back. The story follows the space fleet on a mission to cripple Mindon-2, the Drakk’Har’s shipbuilding planet.


The only military sci-fi I had ever read was Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet. I found that series hard going because it dealt with battles fought at the macro level with huge distances, speeds, and formations that I struggled to visualize.

Predation also had a battle scene fought in space, but I found it quite compelling. At a fine grain, the author made me think about how dangerous a tiny rock can be to a huge battle cruiser if they collided at close to the speed of light. And at the macro-level, he did a solid job of describing the dire consequences of a singularity appearing in close proximity to the fleet. The author’s military training imbued a sense of reality to the fleet’s command structure and battle tactics, and despite the often-detailed descriptions of technology, I was always engaged.

Then Mr. Parkinson did something quite unusual: he switched from the massive forces and distances and technology involved in a space battle and dropped me inside a small group of special-forces soldiers, secreted on a hill on the target planet with the objective of gathering intelligence. The stark contrast between the space battle and the reality facing the troops on the ground delivered a level of believability and emotional involvement that I missed in The Lost Fleet.

The story unfolded from these two perspectives, and as the battle progressed the two threads, of necessity, drew closer, until, in the end, they became one as the mission was concluded. The only feature that jarred me from my suspended disbelief was the Drakk’Har. The primitive nature of their culture seemed at odds with the technological advances they had made. But all in all, the tale worked for me, and I think it goes to show that even a story outside of your normal genre-comfort-level, if well written, is enjoyable.

Format/Typo Issues:

No typos worth mentioning but enough instances of word repetition (often in the same sentence) to make me notice.

Rating: **** Four stars

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