Earth 2.0: Prison Planet
by William Crow Johnson
Earth 2.0 is somewhat formulaic and has one of the those protagonists
who is so superior to everyone else that the victory in everything is pretty
much assured, all things that might tend to put me off. But the author somehow
manages to make it work. This is an engaging tale of derring do and revenge, of
good versus evil (even if the evil has thoroughly understandable motives.)
I think what makes this work is the authors ability to paint with the written word. He is skilled writer who takes the reader on a vivid and compelling journey. As I wrote above, Major Khan is somewhat of a superman, stronger, faster, and smarter than everyone else. This could make him rather shallow and one-dimensional. However, he seems real and fleshed out. Perhaps it is his awkwardness around women that gives him that sense of humanity.
Copy editing is good throughout, but content editing could have been better. Someone should have caught, for example, that Farsi is spoken in Iran, not Afghanistan, that a fake mustache and tinted glasses would not fool modern facial recognition software, much less that 300 years in the future, and that either the current war in Afghanistan or WWII could be 300 years ago, but not both of them.
Over all, though, the details in the book are pretty amazing. The author goes into great depth on a number of varied subjects, from physics to biology to engineering. These details support the story instead of being obstructions, as sometimes happens.
I did have problems with three aspect of the storyline. One was in the action. I could not see how men armed with primitive weapons could fight modern, armored soldiers and have the outcome as described in the book. The author tried to explain it, but I couldn't buy it. On a biological side, local fauna on Prison Planet interbred with earth fauna to create new species. On earth, very few species can interbreed, and almost all offspring cannot reproduce, so I doubt that animals from two different planets could interbreed. As a corollary to that, I couldn't buy the alien sex--humans don't breed with bonobos, the closest animal to man, and if they did, there could be no offspring, so why would humans and aliens have sex except in space operas and pulp science fiction?. Finally, I just couldn't see the end result with the government back on earth. The actions taken by Major Khan could not, in my opinion, create the results that they did.
Regardless of those issues, this was still a good tale and a good read. This is an aggressive effort, and the author delivers.
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