09 March, 2021

[Review] Columbus Day by Craig Alanson


Cover image from the goodreads website.

Series or Stand Alone: Expeditionary Forces #1
Release Date: 11 January, 2016
Publisher: Kindle/Independently Published
Genre: Military Science-Fiction/Army in Space/Supposedly Science Fiction
Edition: Kindle and Audiobook (available in paperback)
Review Written: 9 October, 2020
Warnings: Military in Space, Old Boys Attitude, Sexism
We were fighting on the wrong side, of a war we couldn't win. And that was the good news.

The Ruhar hit us on Columbus Day. There we were, innocently drifting along the cosmos on our little blue marble, like the native Americans in 1492. Over the horizon come ships of a technologically advanced, aggressive culture, and BAM! There go the good old days, when humans only got killed by each other. So, Columbus Day. It fits.

When the morning sky twinkled again, this time with Kristang starships jumping in to hammer the Ruhar, we thought we were saved. The UN Expeditionary Force hitched a ride on Kristang ships to fight the Ruhar, wherever our new allies thought we could be useful. So, I went from fighting with the US Army in Nigeria, to fighting in space. It was lies, all of it. We shouldn't even be fighting the Ruhar, they aren't our enemy, our allies are.

I'd better start at the beginning....

See more by Craig Alanson at his website.
I tried to read this book for the Charlotte Science Fiction Book Club. I say tried because I made it about halfway through and admitted that I just did not care about this book in the slightest. 

I give this book no stars, a rarity for me. Normally I try to find at least one thing I enjoyed about the books I read but I just couldn't. This book read like a fourteen-year-old boy wrote it, and it was about as entertaining as one. The main character is a mix between high school athlete who peaked in high school and military jar head who is too stupid to know anything. He's annoying, he's more than a little sexist, and at times he feels like a Gary Stu. 

This book starts out with an attack on Earth's major power networks... you know the places you would think to strike in order to take global defenses offline. Instead our main character is so shocked that it wasn't anything more than that. "I saw maps later on and besides the lack of streetlights, the major cities looked fine." We're off to a fine start. Our main hero starts out this step into the space war with an ego due to his quick thinking that allowed him to capture one of the Ruhar, a hamster bipedal alien race, who crashed into his home town. By using a Barney Themed ice cream truck, our intrepid lead finds himself with the nickname of Barney, and a string of bad luck.

From here, we jump to when our main character is heading off to war. (Can you tell how little I care about this book since I didn't even bother to look up the main lead's name? It's Joe something or other, I can't be bothered to look.) He catches us up to date on things that happened between the initial attack on a very controversial holiday and several months later. He comments that the US Government got it's act together to help the people (I laughed extremely hard at that). He also makes a comment about the fact that the US is the greatest country on earth (not really), and that as a citizen from the greatest nation on earth, it was insulting to think that humanity was just a footnote in this eons old war (really dude). He also makes a lot of racist statements about his time in Kenya in the military.

Anyways, Joe, I'm just going to call him Joe, goes up the space elevator. This elevator takes him to a Kristang ship (Kristangs are lizard-like aliens, and who the Humans are allied with). This leads to a less than interesting side note about bathrooms on the ship, and how the bathrooms are unisex (spoiler, they're not the Kristang are super misogynistic) with an offhand quote about "Damn women take a long time in the bathroom". Cue me staring into space like I was on The Office for 10 minutes. 

Joe, as stupid as he is, manages to survive until he reaches the training planet. A planet that has higher gravity than earth's (which makes me feel like it wouldn't be great for human bodies without protective gear but okay). He whines and moans about having to set up camp, and how he's outrun by a woman. He compares waiting on her to call him to every woman who's ever waited on a guy to call them. When they finally do hook up and have sex, this supposedly twenty-something man can't even say what he thinks about the sex other than it was a-w-e-s-o-m-e... yes he spells out the word awesome. My dude, please seek a therapist for your repressed inability to state that sex was awesome without spelling out the word. 

During this period, Joe gets elevated up to the head of a group of soldiers, and they get sent to their first assignment... where they end up on a Ruhar planet supposed to help with evacuation. Basically guard duty. Unfortunately, things happen, people die... blah blah blah. Joe gets sent to camp for treason against the Kristang for refusing to kill civilians (one of the few decent things he does), but somehow survives a direct strike to the prison. He survives a lot of direct strikes honestly, either he's extremely lucky or just has a good enough knack of not dying.

Finally, before I stopped reading, Joe gets taken by the Ruhar when they take back the planet, and he finds a supposedly eons old Artificial Intelligence who calls himself Skippy. Honestly, Skippy was the only one I liked, and that was because he was slightly less assholish than Joe. But honestly, I can't recommend this series. If you like Military Science Fiction with a hint of too much military terminology thrown in and jackass characters, this series might be for you.

As for me, I'm bowing out of this one. 

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