About three-quarters of the way into SPACE WARS: THE FIRST SIX HOURS OF WORLD WAR III, the authors – the trio of Michael J. Coumatos, William B. Scott, and William J. Birnes – decide to introduce some political editorializing vicariously by having a ranking military officer dump on his former Commander-in-Chief by referring to an intentionally unnamed man as “the failed Cowboy President of the last eight years.” Hmm … wonder who THAT could be? Despite the fact that no military officer I know or have met speaks that way of any President or Commander-in-Chief, the obvious (and all too easy) politicization of a fictional war seems beneath the writers here, especially moreso when that failed Cowboy President’s defense program essentially saves the day in the last chapters of the book, and the authors are curiously absent any editorial smack-downs (or suck-ups!) to this fictional world they’ve created.
Up front, SPACE WARS offers a unique and exciting premise: in 2010, Iran (I thought they weren’t a threat, U.N.?) instigates a near-nuclear nightmare (I thought they WEREN’T looking for military nuclear uses?) against the backdrop of hurling the U.S. back to the technological Stone Age (or maybe the 1950’s) by crippling its space-based advantages with a new terrorist-controlled maser weapon. There are suicide bombers and drug cartels finally willing to cooperate with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (yeah, that Ahmandinejad, the same one most mainstream pundits claim is a bit of a radical laughingstock). Thank goodness that General Howard Aster and a whole slew of military techno-experts are on the job producing war game scenarios that promise to keep America one step ahead of the bad guys (or so you think, dear reader!).
Don’t get me wrong (my favorite expression the older I get): somewhere deep within the complex and evolutionary ideas within SPACE WARS, there’s a truly great non-fiction book. An in-depth exploration of the technology and the people required to staff the next evolution in satellites, space platforms, computer viruses, high altitude star-planes, and the endless military applications would prove fascinating, and I think that’s largely why I was disappointed with the novel. This is a fictional account – and, worse, it feels like a fictional account – so there isn’t enough time dedicated to the science aspect of everything covered within. Couple that reality with the fact that the conclusion to the story isn’t really a conclusion at all – only an affirmation that “it doesn’t end here” – and I think any avid reader might find more than a few shortcomings tied into these pages. The prose moves slowly, almost as if three writers took a crack at it when one may’ve sufficed, but I’m reviewing only the merits of the finished product, not necessarily the drawbacks to the process used to get it there. In short, I wanted more science and less science fiction, I think, so perhaps I wasn’t the intended audience.
Despite the fact that the novel covers a “fictional” timeframe from April 3rd to May 4th, the authors have somehow curious decided upon the book’s most grievous error: “The First Six Hours of World War III.” Last I looked, there were more than thirty days between the two dates in question, so I’m at a total, complete loss to determine which six hours within these chosen events are the first six hours. From the best I can tell, it’s more than a mildly disjointed assertion on their part, as the book contains no conventional war to speak of but instead focuses on recounting a series of war-related events – or terrorist state “acts of war” is probably more applicable.
Also, for some reason, the authors insist on reminding the reader that military officers – regardless of which branch they serve – all possess nicknames. Hank “Speed” Griffin is introduced as Hank “Speed” Griffin … and then he’s re-introduced as Hank “Speed” Griffin … and then he’s re-re-introduced as Hank “Speed” Griffin multiple times in the book … in fact, I’d argue that it’s done often enough with many enough characters that it borders on the absurd, almost an unintentional slight to military officers and the worlds they’ve created for themselves. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it almost borders on farce, and I don’t think that was the authors’ intent with such serious subject matter, but, at the end of the day, what can I say?
I’m just Ed “The Reviewer” Lee, so I could be mistaken.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
What's your opinion on Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World...?