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War Dogs by Greg Bear
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War Dogs

by Greg Bear

Series: War Dogs (1)

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Back in the day I would have considered a new science fiction novel by Greg Bear a genuine event and the initial premise of Humanity being culturally and technologically uplifted by another race, in exchange for fighting in a common conflict, to be attractive. The question though is whether this really our fight; considering Bear's history of plots where all is not as it seems you can draw your own conclusions. The real problem with this story is that, due to the flash-back structure of the novel, I had a hard time maintaining interest as Bear pretty much deflates all the suspense, though maybe I'll give the next book in the series a try out of respect for Bear. ( )
  Shrike58 | Feb 13, 2017 |
The more I read of good ol' Greg, the more I like. While I'm sad I didn't discover him earlier, I'm also cognizant that any earlier and I may not have appreciated him as much. ( )
  lyrrael | Oct 17, 2015 |
If you are expecting something like David Weber's Manticoran books, with noble marines, think again. What you'll get in this book is a military organisation that would be quite at home in David Drake's 'Hammer's Slammers' universe.

First Sergeant Venn and the rest of his squad are sent off to Mars to fight the Antagonists, archenemies of the Gurus who were sharing their technology with Earth - apparently with no strings attached until they mentioned the Antagonists. Oh yeah, and no profanity involving reproductive habits. In this particular instance Venn and his colleagues run into the tail end of a major push against the Antags. A failed push, which led Venn and his fellows without supplies or squads so they're on their last legs when they're rescued by a second generation Muskie, one of the original Terran colonists, who takes them to an unexpected place of safety - an abandoned mine that contained mysteries from the beginning of the solar system.

There was a degree of hopelessness in the face of great odds that made Venn's survival rather unlikely and it takes a blast from the sky to make sure it happens but the underlying mysteries kept me reading. The ending was a bit ambiguous as well, making me wondering when the next entry in the series due out... ( )
  JohnFair | May 25, 2015 |
ABR's full War Dogs audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Master Sergeant Michael Venn is a Skyrine. He doesn’t fight on Earth, but on Mars or the “Red”, as they call it.

This is the first book of the series and gives us the foundation of what is to come. A brief update how Earth got into the mess and who started it. Of course it was the aliens. An advanced race called Gurus, who have been hiding in the desert, show up and offered Earth samples of advanced technology. They promised more and they are soon “running” the Earth and making the rules. But, of course, nothing is free. In return for the tech. advances they need an army to fight the antaginists who are after them. Guess who gets the honor of fighting on Mars? Yep, our military.

Venny relates his experiences as they happen. He explains what the war is really like and how bad things can go in just minutes. As a six year veteran he can tell when a simple assingment has turned into a big SNAFU. But it turns out this is bigger than any before it. If not for the camaraderie between the men in his unit, many would die. He gives us clues and details of what he thinks might be going on. He experiences some strange dreams and thoughts that he doesn’t understand. By the time Vinny and the other survivors of his unit return to Earth they have been changed.

There is more to Mars than first thought. A very old alien presence has made itself known. It has altered certain members of his unit. They are now in danger from their own military.

Stay tuned for further developments.
I don’t really like first person books. This one, after listening for a while, caught on. I started to really understand what was going on and to see the situation as it was described. There was lots of real tension in the telling of how the survival suits had to be checked for leaks and what about the dust that clogged the filters. Could any of the Martian settlers be trusted? Could his own military be trusted? I am definately watching for the next installment.

Narrated by Jay Snyder and he did a really gook job of it. When it called for different voices he nailed em. No wimpy voices here, just hard ass soldiers. His diction was very clear and easy to understand, even the odd dialect of the settlers was understood. Very good job Mr. Snyder.

Production was faultless and smooth. No jumps, empty spaces, or static.

Audiobook provided for review by the publisher. ( )
  audiobibliophile | Apr 20, 2015 |
Novels set on Mars are written almost daily (or so it seems). Novels with aliens are at least as common. Military SF is also pretty common. But the master of the hard science fiction Greg Bear still manages to mix them again and create something new. Unfortunately the novel is uneven - and I suspect that part of the reason is the need to set his trilogy(or whatever this will end up being) while taking his sweet time to actually get there.

Somewhere in the Earth's future, humanity had not only made it to Mars but also managed to abandon the pioneers that moved there. And out of a blue, some aliens show up (and not in one of the Western cities of the world for a change) and start sharing knowledge with the people of Earth - without demanding anything in return - or nothing too big anyway. And their gifts allow humanity to make leaps in all spheres of medicine and science and everything else you can think of. Until the bill is presented that is -- as it turns out our aliens did not just happen to be in the neighbourhood - they had been running from another race and they want humanity to help with the war - by basically leading the war instead of them. So humanity (or huge parts of it anyway) decide to help and the Skyrines (the Marines in the Sky) are shipped to Mars to deal with an enemy noone knows anything about, does not seem to be able to beat or even to see most of the time.

And this is how the novel opens - or close enough -- Master Sergeant Venn is just back from a drop that went terribly wrong (but he made it out so he can tell his story). And the first half of the book is the story of the this drop - a military SF at its best - with all the roughness and courage and bravery of the genre and the Marines (I mean Skyrines) - going from one big mess into another and revealing parts of the past to us with their actions and words. If that was all that the novel was, I would have been a very happy reader. But that being Bear, he decides to make things weird and complicated. And when the weird starts happening in Venn's story, the novel start flipping between Seattle (where our narrator is hiding after coming back) and the story at Mars and things start getting weird in both places - secrets and unsaid truths start piling up, people behave in unexpected ways and somewhere along the lines things get so convoluted that I was not sure that I was reading the same novel that I started. Most of those lines remain unresolved (and if this is indeed a first in a new trilogy, this is where they will get resolved I hope) and it feels like a first part of a story - technically we do see Venn leaving Mars but the Mars expedition, so important in the first part of the book, becomes just the vehicle for the larger story in the second part. And that second story is up to nowhere.

Despite that the novel is actually enjoyable - the last chapter of the novel allows Venn to try to guess what had happened really - and if there is never a sequel, this can serve as an explanation - it is logical and it does explain everything but it still leaves unresolved questions such as who are all those aliens and why everyone seems to want Mars. ( )
  AnnieMod | Mar 4, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316072834, Hardcover)

AN EPIC INTERSTELLAR TALE OF WAR FROM A MASTER OF SCIENCE FICTION.

They came in peace, bearing gifts.

The Gurus were a highly advanced species who brought amazingly useful and sophisticated technology to the human race. There was, of course, a catch. They warned of a far more malevolent life form, beings who have hounded the Gurus across the cosmos.

The media have taken to calling them the Antagonists -- or Antags -- and they have already established a beachhead on Mars. For all they've done for us, the Gurus now need our help.

Enter Master Sergeant Michael Venn, a veteran Skyrine who is dropped onto the Red Planet with his band of brothers on a mission to turn back the Antag tide.

But the Skyrines will face impossible odds just to survive -- let alone make it home alive.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:37 -0400)

"They came in peace, bearing gifts. The Gurus were a highly advanced species who brought amazingly useful and sophisticated technology to the human race. There was, of course, a catch. They warned of a far more malevolent life form, beings who have hounded the Gurus across the cosmos. The media have taken to calling them the Antagonists -- or Antags -- and they have already established a beachhead on Mars. For all they've done for us, the Gurus now need our help. Enter Master Sergeant Michael Venn, a veteran Skyrine who is dropped onto the Red Planet with his band of brothers on a mission to turn back the Antag tide. But the Skyrines will face impossible odds just to survive -- let alone make it home alive. "--… (more)

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