From One Category To Another

I asked Kathi for a recommendation for a “romance set in the future”. She loaned me her copy of The Terrans: First Salik War, by Jean Johnson. (Jean is Kathi’s cousin and housemate, remember.) Kathi’s recommendation was not quite solid, however – something along the lines of “Well, this is sort of a romance, I guess. I mean, it is a romance, in a way, possibly.” I didn’t have high hopes for The Terrans ending up in the Reading Challenge, but I was willing to give it a try.

I took the book home and started reading the foreword. Immediately, I learned that this new First Salik War series will be a prequel to the Theirs Not to Reason Why series, with First Salik War set 200 years earlier. (A prequel!) I’d been struggling to find an interesting “book and its prequel” for the Challenge. It appeared that Kathi had handed me exactly that. I put an eBook of A Soldier’s Duty on hold at the library.

I read both books more or less simultaneously – switching back and forth between book and eReader.

The Book

A Soldier’s Duty: Theirs Not to Reason Why, by Jean Johnson, was published in 2011.

A Soldiers Duty

Don’t judge an eBook by its cover

In the year 2487 (Terran Standard), Ia, a 15-year-old precognitive, was having visions of a terrible future of galaxy-wide destruction. She knew she had to do something to do something to prevent it. On her 18th birthday in 2490, Ia arrives in Melbourne, Australia, Earth, to enlist in the Terran Space Force Marines.

Her full name is Ia. (“She pronounced it EE-yah, not the EYE-ah most people assumed.“) As a resident of the independent colonyworld, Sanctuary, Ia could have enlisted in either the V’Dan Imperial Military or any branch of the Terran United Planet Space Force – even in the Chaplain division, since Ia is an ordained Priestess of The Witan Order. Her visions told her, however, that, for the survival of trillions of people, it had to be the TUPSF Marines.

Ia’s premonitions are, of course, only possible futures. She knows that by carefully choosing her actions, both in boot camp and in combat, she can guide the future toward the more desirable timestream, and eventually reach her ultimate goal. But Ia must keep her psychic abilities hidden in order for her plan to work.

Its Prequel

The Terrans: First Salik War, by Jean Johnson, was published in 2015.

The TerransIn the year 2287 (Common Era), Jacaranda “Jackie” MacKenzie is living in her native Hawai’ian Islands, the capital of the United Planets government. Formerly a Lieutenant Commander in the Psi Division of the United Planets Space Force, Jackie is an ambassador on the United Planets Council.

Jackie MacKenzie is abruptly called back into military duty. Precognitives have been having dreams about Humans meeting non-Humans – not The Grey Ones, who had been kidnapping Humans for centuries, but several unfamiliar races. An international team of military and civilian personnel have been assembled to travel through hyperspace, aboard the Aloha 9, in order to establish First Contact. Jackie may have to use her skills as a soldier if any of these non-Human races turn out to be hostile, or she may have to use her skills as a diplomat if they turn out to be friendly. Either way, Jackie’s strong psychic ability will be important.

Li’eth Ma’an-uq’en is the captain of the V’Dan Imperial Warship T’un Tunn G’deth. His ship is being overrun by the Salik. Li’eth believes the prophecies written in the Book of Sh’nai – that some of his crew will be rescued from capture, and will avoid the fate (which all Salik captives face) of being eaten alive.

The V’Dan seem oddly similar to Humans – so similar that the Humans must now call themselves the Terrans.

Now that the Terrans may have become involved in the war against the Salik, should the United Planets join forces with the multi-species Alliance (of which the V’Dan are members), or should the two merge into one?

Both Books

I loved both of these books. I enjoyed reading The Terrans a little more than A Soldier’s Duty, but only because I enjoy reading about space travel more than I enjoy reading about military operations.

I was in awe of the thought and detail that went into these books. I found the descriptions of moving around a space station with centrifugal gravity believable. I admired the explanation for why a ship with artificial gravity would need lower-gravity plates toward its exterior. I liked the idea that first contact with an alien race (from both the Terran and V’Dan viewpoints) would require both quarantine and inoculations. (I don’t see that often enough in science fiction stories.)

And I do believe that Kathi loaned me exactly what I’d asked for. The Terrans is, indeed, a “romance set in the future”. It’s a romance created by circumstance and also hindered by circumstance. The romance is not the focus of the story, but it is a major part of it.

The stories in both books are introductions to multi-book series. The second book in the First Salik War series, The V’Dan, was published in January, 2016. The fourth book in the Theirs Not to Reason Why series, Damnation, was published in 2014.

  • A romance set in the future
  • A book and its prequel
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