In Gleason’s (Molters, 2015, etc.) new sci-fi novel, a military vanguard, tasked with preparing the Earth-like world of Tuhrelevim for colonization, finds lethal and relentless opposition in the form of vicious packs of predators.
The planet Tuhrelevim is the only extraterrestrial location ever discovered by mankind to be habitable for humans. A convoy of colonization ships, full of wealthy elites, are already on their way to settle there as a haven from an apparently tapped-out Earth. But a group of military troops has preceded them to investigate why previous expeditions, including those of automated probes, have disappeared. Straightaway, the soldiers find the culprits: the planet’s alpha-predator land species, a vaguely lionlike creature that the troops call a “ravager.” The beasts determinedly and relentlessly attack in force, killing any interloper onto which they can lock their jaws and claws. Meanwhile, Nev, an army captain with mixed feelings about the whole colonization project, discovers a high-level coverup that shows that the situation is even worse than they imagine. Although Earth people possess awesome destructive technology, the absolutely fearless ravagers have a high level of intelligence and an organized battle strategy. Gleason has film studies and movie projects on his resume, and his lean, hyperkinetic novel strongly recalls celluloid sci-fi monster-fests in the militaristic vein of Starship Troopers (the 1997 Hollywood version far more than Robert A. Heinlein’s original 1959 book) and director James Cameron’s 1986 film Aliens. The novel’s terse characterizations and back story are barely more than is necessary to propel the fight scenes forward; there isn’t even time for a Star Trek–like debate about whether the Homo sapiens are better or worse than the ravagers. As in one of Cameron’s other sci-fi epics, Avatar (2009), it’s clearly the humans who are the unsympathetic alien invaders.
A short, bloody, and energetic military sci-fi dispatch.