SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 675 Orphanage, by Robert Buettner Book Review |

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Orphanage, by Robert Buettner
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Warner Books
Published: 2004
Review Posted: 9/30/2005
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

Orphanage, by Robert Buettner

Book Review by Steven Sawicki

Have you read this book?

Any military science fiction book which deals with citizens conscripted into the infantry will draw parallels to Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" and Haldeman's "Forever War." In most cases there's really no comparison and, truth be told, there are many dozens of books put out each year which deal with this particular subject area.

Orphanage begins with a first contact scenario as the aliens, based on Ganymede, launch rocks at Earth, taking out targeted cites by the hundreds. Earth can manage to put together one effort to go and confront the aliens and the decision is made to train a group of orphans for the job. Jason Wander is one of these orphans, running from a life of crime, given a chance to use the military as a means to straighten himself out, and ultimately selected to be one of the chosen few-thousands.

The book flows fairly quickly from event to event and there's plenty of action to push it along. If some of the sequences are a bit out there it's easy to slide them to the back of your mind and keep moving on. Buettner knows enough about the military so it all comes across as pretty real, with the exception of some of the promotion schemes, as, I am sure, it matters not how good you are or what the situation is, for the path from private to general to happen as quickly as he lays it out. I've got a few other nits as well but they're really not worth mentioning.

I don't think you pick up a book like this for the big idea or the laying out of alternate societies and futures. No, like "Starship Troopers" and "Forever War," you pick up a book like this to be entertained by the concept that someone with a few brains and a positive attitude manages to produce big results. It's the idea of the everyman(woman) to the rescue which strokes our own sense of personal heroic wishes. We know we could do the same if only someone would force us to join the future military, train us and provide us with great technology. The reality, of course, is that we'd be one of those recruits squashed against the bulkhead because we couldn't figure out the safety belt system.

There's another book coming out in the same universe and it will be interesting to see how Buettner handles things in that one since this one is pretty much a complete work. I liked the characters and the setting and the story so this is definitely one you should pick up.
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