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Exogene (The Subterrene War) by T. C.…
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Exogene (The Subterrene War)

by T. C. McCarthy

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Showing 5 of 5
A fascinating science fiction exploration of what it means to be human. Powerful and moving. ( )
  vnesting | Oct 26, 2014 |
Read by Bahni Turpin for Blackstone Audio and released concurrently with the mass market and e-book from Orbit, Exogene sets up as a much more traditional military sf novel than did the author’s debut, 2011’s Germline. Germline was read by Donald Corren, and was a drug-addled war journalism narrative, glossing a bit over technical details whether of weaponry, mech suits (other than detailing a bit of the waste system), or of the eponymous genetic engineering.

Here, Exogene shares only the setting — a near future war over mineral resources in Kazakhstan and its surrounds — and a first person perspective. The voice has changed, as has the narrator’s attention to technical detail. Turpin shows us the Subterene War from the point of view of Catherine, one of the genetically-engineered soldiers used by the United States and its allies. We find out some technical details of her flechette rifle such as its capacity, speed, and firepower. We find out more about the science and psychology and training behind the Germline project, and the lives, loves, and losses of women who were more shallowly perceived by the aforementioned drug-addled male journalist in the first book. This is not to say that there aren’t a few missteps: in the first quarter of the audiobook, some post-production artifacts remain from re-recordings for corrected pronunciations, though they aren’t too distracting. And for my money, though this was admittedly a review copy, some of the emotional impact of these losses don’t appear fully realized or felt. (Though, again, there are drugs and psychological conditioning at work.) But overall Turpin does a quite capable job here of bringing the “girls” (16-18 year olds) to a richer life, amidst a wider and richer cast of characters than inhabited the close quarters of Germline. Turpin’s turn at Russian (and other accents) are mostly well done, easily besting recent attempts from other non-native narrators (Malcolm Hillgartner’s forgettable tries at Russian, Hungarian, and Chinese accents in Neal Stephenson’s Reamde for example) though at times the closing words of sentences lose their flavor. It’s a good thing Turpin can handle her Russians, because we see quite a few of them, and hear a fair bit of Russian along the way towards discovering what it is the Russians are up to, exogentically. (If you’re guessing “exoskeleton”, you’re on the right track.) While Germline spent quite a bit of the capital of sf ideas for the world of the Subterrene War and had a more unique voice, Exogene sees McCarthy come a bit more into his powers of plot, and already leaves me wondering on where he’ll go with the trilogy’s conclusion, Chimera, due out in August. ( )
  montsamu | Apr 3, 2013 |
I liked this book (#2 in the series) much better than book 1. Looking forward to reading #3. ( )
  FCH123 | Aug 28, 2012 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

This is volume two of a new trilogy by T.C. McCarthy, detailing a day-after-tomorrow war in central Asia from the viewpoint of three very different types of combatants; but unfortunately, while the first book Germline made CCLaP's best-of lists last year and in general just really blew me away, I found myself much less captivated by this newest chapter. And that's because, I've come to realize, what I really loved the most about part one was the unique kind of narrative that came with dropping a drug-addicted gonzo journalist into the middle of a Vietnam-like bloody quagmire within the former Soviet states over the world's diminishing supplies of "trace metals" (almost useless except in the manufacture of cellphones and other mobile tech, and thus suddenly one of the most important resources on the planet in a world just around the corner from us); but with part two narrated by one of the genetically engineered teenage-girl super-soldiers bred specifically for wars like these, I found the missing element of flawed, decaying humanity to result in simply a less compelling manuscript, and now no longer offset by McCarthy's pleasingly shocking vision of near-future warfare (including micro-bullets that need no gunpowder, spacesuit armor with its own atmosphere, all troop movement conducted via thousands of miles of underground tunnels, and more), thought-provoking surprises in part one but old-hat by now. Granted, this is perhaps an unfair assessment, because Germline was just so freaking badass that its sequel was maybe fated to be disappointing no matter what -- and I'll absolutely be reading volume three of the trilogy as well when it comes out, Chimera in 2013 -- but unfortunately Exogene is a step down into mere "good" level from a debut that was almost perfect, and so will simply suffer in direct comparison. It should be kept in mind when reading it yourself.

Out of 10: 8.2 ( )
  jasonpettus | May 29, 2012 |
Book Review – Exogene by T C McCarthy

Exogene
Subterrene War Series Book Two
T. C. McCarthy
Orbit Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Mass Market Paperback
400 pages
ISBN-13: 9780316128155
Cover Art by Steve Stone

SWFLMGELE18

Talk about alternative life styles? Single, white, female, lesbian, military, genetically-enhanced, life expectancy 18 years. Yes, you read that right, that’s the social status of the main characters in T. C. McCarthy’s Exogene, the second book in the Subterrene War series. Following Germline (see my review here), the first book in the series, we enter back into an alternate universe that is running low on natural resources and ravaged by conflict. Rare and precious metals are so expensive, so integral to technology, and so isolated by location that they are worth going to war over. However, rather than seen through the eyes of a civilian, as in Germline, we track the exploits of the genetically-enhanced female soldiers that are, in essence, disposable. Programmed to “spoil” at the tender age of eighteen these soldiers are lethal killing machines but the government does not want them walking around free after they’ve out-lived their usefulness. The answer? Get rid of them after two years of service by programming them to “self-destruct” or “spoil” starting on their eighteenth birthday.

McCarthy’s main character in Exogene is Catherine, one of the genetically-engineered 18-year-old killing machines. While she’s an effective soldier and dreams of dying to reach paradise and meet God she’s having doubts about spending the rest of her life as a soldier and giving herself up at the end of her service. Catherine has heard rumblings that a sanctuary for over-aged soldiers can be found in Thailand and she’ll do almost anything to get there.

It’s not often that Science Fiction represents strong (read kick-ass) women as main characters but T.C. McCarthy does that and more. The subtleness of being a soldier and a woman is captured beautifully but to do so in the midst of a long-running war even more so. While some may consider this series military science fiction I think it falls more into the realm of social science fiction. Are genetically-engineered beings truly human? What might they do to be “considered” equal? What are the future implications of tampering with genetic material? McCarthy displays great skill in imagining a world history that, given the right circumstance, could very well come to be. Assuming the voice of his characters McCarthy comments on what it means to be human and the means those considered “less than” might attempt to attain equality. Tucked unobtrusively into a science fiction novel is a vast commentary on our future. Genetic manipulation, forced euthanasia, social inequality, and the human condition all play their parts in this story which McCarthy handles with his usual, seemingly effortless approach.

The third book in the series, Chimera, is due out later this summer. I can’t wait to see how he wraps up the series.

Recommended if you like anything by Joe Haldeman, David Gunn’s Death Head series, or Robert Buettner’s Jason Wander series or if you’re a fan of military science fiction, social science fiction, future warfare, quests, technological advances, genetic manipulation, resource depletion, or solid, creative, thought-provoking fiction.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Subterrene War Series
1. Germline (2011)
2. Exogene (2012)
3. Chimera (2012) ( )
1 vote TheAlternativeOne | Apr 5, 2012 |
Showing 5 of 5
Exogene is both disorienting and an effective portrayal of a protagonist with a broken mind.
 
McCarthy does an excellent job of building and presenting Catherine [the protagonist]. The gritty realities of the futuristic conflict Cathering participates in, leads, and navigates may shock readers...getting to know Catherine is worth your time. -Victoria Frerichs, RT Book Reviews
added by TC_McCarthy | editRT Book Reviews, Victoria Frerichs
 
Former CIA analyst McCarthy delivers a stark and wrenching sequel to Germline. The conclusion is simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant, and utterly appropriate for the brutal, bloody, and magnificent story. One of the ten best SFF novels for Spring 2012. -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
added by TC_McCarthy | editPublishers Weekly
 
"McCarthy captures a fascinating mix of naïveté and ruthlessness...this exciting and thoughtful story marks McCarthy as one of sci-fi’s most promising new talents." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
added by TC_McCarthy | editKirkus
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316128155, Mass Market Paperback)

Exogene (n.): factor or agent (as a disease-producing organism) from outside the organism or system. Also: classified Russian program to merge proto-humanoids with powered armor systems (slang).

Catherine is a soldier. Fast, strong, lethal, she is the ultimate in military technology. She's a monster in the body of an eighteen year old girl. Bred by scientists, grown in vats, indoctrinated by the government, she and her sisters will win this war, no matter the cost.

And the costs are high. Their life span is short; as they age they become unstable and they undergo a process called the spoiling. On their eighteenth birthday they are discharged. Lined up and shot like cattle.

But the truth is, Catherine and her sisters may not be strictly human, but they're not animals. They can twist their genomes and indoctrinate them to follow the principles of Faith and Death, but they can't shut off the part of them that wants more than war. Catherine may have only known death, but she dreams of life and she will get it at any cost.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:00 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Catherine is a soldier. Fast, strong, lethal, she is the ultimate in military technology. She's a monster in the body of an eighteen year old girl. Bred by scientists, grown in vats, indoctrinated by the government, she and her sisters will win this war, no matter the cost. And the costs are high. Their life span is short; as they age they become unstable and they undergo a process called the spoiling. On their eighteenth birthday they are discharged. Lined up and shot like cattle. But the truth is, Catherine and her sisters may not be strictly human, but they're not animals. They can twist their genomes and indoctrinate them to follow the principles of Faith and Death, but they can't shut off the part of them that wants more than war. Catherine may have only known death, but she dreams of life and she will get it at any cost"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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Orbit Books

An edition of this book was published by Orbit Books.

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