BOOK REVIEW: THE FORTRESS IN ORION / WRITER: MIKE RESNICK / PUBLISHER: PYR / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 5TH
Mike Resnick is one of the stalwarts of the science-fiction community. With over fifty books on his list and enough rocket-shaped Hugo Awards to start his own space program, some of his works, including Santiago and Ivory, are considered modern classics by hardcore sci-fi fans, and his latest work, The Fortress in Orion, is set in the same broad universe.
Rather than going for anything particularly deep, this time Resnick has decided to have some fun. The set up for The Fortress in Orion is pretty simple; the main character is a war hero who has to hand-pick a team of elite specialists to kidnap an enemy general and replace him with a much more malleable clone. The team is a grizzled Colonel, a sarcastic tech expert, a master thief, a walking slab of muscle and metal, an empath, an alien and, of course, the clone. If the plot sounds familiar, it’s because it is; there is nothing original about this book, though its simplicity and cliché-ridden narrative is arguably part of the charm.
The Fortress in Orion also lacks interesting and diverse protagonists. Initially I suspected that there may be some level of sexism going on as all the female characters seemed the same; cool, sassy, competent, strong but ultimately two-dimensional. However, the male characters aren’t much better. Every single character here is a bland action hero type, from the shape-shifting alien to the exotic cyborg. The narrative itself is similarly without charm; though it would be unfair to call it bad, it just isn’t very good. Much of the fun comes from the snarky humour throughout the work, but because all the protagonists are very similar (and thus have a similar sense of humour), this grows tiresome after a while. Luckily, it’s also quite short, so there’s a good chance the book will end before you get too bored.
If you need a simple-to-read, action and humour-heavy novel with a very straight forward plot that requires very little effort, then this is perfect; if you have a long journey and need to kill a few hours without actually trying then this is for you. Otherwise, try and seek out some of Resnick’s earlier work; you won’t be disappointed.
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