back to article Read The Gods of War for every tired cliche you never wanted to see in a sci fi book

Prepare yourself for a book that’s so exactly like a late-90s Steven Seagal movie, it’s uncanny. The Gods of War is every action movie cliché you’ve ever known, carefully caught, collected and pressed between the pages of a book about Earth’s imminent destruction and the prospect of Mars as a lifeboat. There’s something …

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  1. Jelliphiish

    careful now..

    You'll only annoy the DudeBros.. Or is it a troll-piece exercise to attract eyeballs to ads by starting a fight?

    either way.. Game On!

    Also, I should say, this is not the sort of Sci-fi I like.. I'm more an Anne Lecke/Scalzi/K.B. Spangler/Marry Gentle/passed-the-Bechdel-test kinda reader. And whilst I'm not averse to mil-spec-fic, it's generally far to shallow a pond for swimming in, but each to their own. It's just SAS-porn in SPAAAACE.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Want to see the film version?

    It'll be on the SyFy channel any day now. Their schedule is packed with dross like this, complete with wobbly sets and many, many winking lights on cardboard consoles.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Want to see the film version?

      The idea of a film version is just too horrible to contemplate.

      1. Gordan

        Re: Want to see the film version?

        It cannot possibly be any worse than "Moon 44".

      2. Steve Crook

        Re: Want to see the film version?

        "The idea of a film version is just too horrible to contemplate."

        We all know that film versions are never as good as the book.

        Also, consider the possibility of being able to buy the film of "The Gods Of War" and "Battlefield Earth" as a DVD double bill.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Steve Crook - DVD double bill

          I'd go for it. Films only have to be entertaining and I think this one could be, provided the cliche level was low enough.

          It would also give me a chance to upgrade my copy of Battlefield Earth from VHS.

          1. VinceH Silver badge

            Re: @Steve Crook - DVD double bill

            "It would also give me a chance to upgrade my copy of Battlefield Earth from VHS."

            I'd just leave it on VHS, perhaps stored away somewhere safe - for example, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door that said "Beware of the Leopard" - and pretend it never existed to start with.

            Sadly, I will confess that I do own a copy on DVD - and what's worse is that I own it on DVD even having read the book some 25 years ago. But my excuse was that I bought a batch of second hand DVDs off someone, and it was one of them, so I had no choice if I wanted the others.

          2. launcap Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: @Steve Crook - DVD double bill

            > I'd go for it. Films only have to be entertaining

            I present the evidence: Dark Star.

            Enought said..

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Want to see the film version?

        If SyFy throw a shark, octopus or tornado it could even get better!

        1. Phil W

          Re: Want to see the film version?

          "SyFy throw a shark, octopus or tornado it could even get better!"

          How about a creature with the head of a shark and the legs of an octopus that shits tornados?

        2. JLV Silver badge

          >If SyFy throw a shark, octopus or tornado it could even get better!

          I can see the poster already! (Goodshow is a hilarious, British-run, site)

          http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/2013/01/city-under-the-sea/

          http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/2010/08/faith-of-tarot/

    2. Cipher
      Coat

      Re: Want to see the film version?

      The BlinkenLights?

      I wondered what became of them...

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    Hillary's fever dream!

    Just a Hollywood movie plot which is probably being pitched to some director right now as the blockbuster for summer of 2015. Happens all the time.

    President of the United World Government

    Imagining that a "United World Government" could do anything except gaze at its own navel through the mirror maze of superbloated bureaucracy, free-fall-devalue the world currency and pass most of the time suppressing dissent in the most brutal manner imaginable -- as opposed to be able to set up Mars as a lifeboat -- is beyond ludicrous. UWG would be the Koch brotherscartel. And if anyone told me that he wanted ship me to Mars for survival, I would immediately conclude I was being cunningly Lincoln Train'd.

    Wait! There are wars, poverty, pollution, envirocollapse and everything? This seems to be confirmation that "there is no daylight" between World Government and the Bad Guys. Maybe this is aaactually a sly psychological thriller which cunningly hides the key to a deeper layer of the story? Read it again, dear reviewer, and report back.

    Back to reading the "Southern Reach Trilogy", which is now complete.

    1. JonP

      Re: Hillary's fever dream!

      Wait! There are wars, poverty, pollution, envirocollapse and everything? This seems to be confirmation that "there is no daylight" between World Government and the Bad Guys. Maybe this is aaactually a sly psychological thriller which cunningly hides the key to a deeper layer of the story? Read it again, dear reviewer, and report back."

      I did wonder how someone could get such apparent crap published (by an actual publisher, dodgy as they seem), and that maybe it was all deliberate...

      ...and yeah, i'll be starting "Acceptance" soon, though with trepidation that it's going to be a let down after the first two...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hillary's fever dream!

        In about '03 I was off to France for a week or so and as usual went to the airport book shop to get a 3 for 2 deal. One book I got was a 'murder mystery' set in Victorian London, which I thought could be interesting so got it. Not only was it as dire as <i>The Gods of War</i> sounds, but the author made what I suppose would be a sort-of Freudian Slip that clearly wasn't picked up by any proof-reading. Instead of referring to the killer anonymously, as he had been doing and would continue doing for a few dozen pages yet, at one point he forgetfully refers to him by name. So about 3/4 through the book it was inadvertently no longer a mystery, beyond the one about how it went from an idea, to a book on the shelf at Waterstones. Certainly the failure of proof-reading - if anything that could be so described actually took place - would be explained by it's being so hypnotically-bad that by 3/4 through it was only by pure chance that you noticed the gaffe.

  4. Cipher

    Makes me appreciate Edmond Hamilton all the more...

    Although dated in many respects, The Stars, My Brothers is military scifi done right...

    There was a time when most scifi was good or better, the ideas reached out, touched new ground. Today one must sift through much cruft to find good ideas/stories.

    1. John Hawkins

      Re: Makes me appreciate Edmond Hamilton all the more...

      Agree - currently reading 'The Stars, My Brothers' again. Though having downloaded and read through a few collections of sci-fi from the early and mid 20th century, I think there was a great deal of sifting that needed doing back then also.

  5. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    Ian M

    None of this comes close to Ian M Bank's scope for wars in Spaaaace.

    I went through my Sf books a while back getting rid of things like these - may be I've grown up.

    (never went for Game of Thrones as I'd read it all before in his Space Opera stuff)

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Ian M

      None of this comes close to Ian M Bank's scope for wars in Spaaaace.

      Oh, I'm not so sure. I'm half-way through re-reading EE Smith's Lensman books, which are available as free ebooks. Dated, especially the romance, but the space wars are still well-written.

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: Ian M

        Oh my, now I'll have to download the whole Lensman saga. I re-read my thumbed-to-death paperbacks again last year and I agree, with the exception of the sexual politics and god electronics which now seem very dated they are rollicking good reads.

      2. groMMitt

        Re: Ian M

        ah yes - the Lensman series...possibly the most execrable use of English I've ever read...but the stories are incredibly compulsive reading - classical 'I'll have to read a few more pages before I feel so sick with the style that I'll have to put it down again'...

      3. launcap Silver badge

        Re: Ian M

        > EE Smith's Lensman books, which are available as free ebooks.

        > Dated, especially the romance

        And the casual racism, the overt sexism etc etc.

        Not noticeable to an 8-year old child back in the 70s but all too jarring now.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Ian M

      Do not understand me wrong - I am a great Ian M Banks fan. However, in most of his books the war is a backdrop for the actual character development. It rarely takes the front stage.

      The Uplift series and specifically StarTide Rising... that is probably the best description of Space war on the grandest scale. I cannot think of anything that gets anywhere near that.

      1. Sander van der Wal

        Re: Ian M

        Perry Rhodan?

  6. Cthonus

    Stealth Books - "Our target audience is at least as clever as we are." (http://stealthbooks.wordpress.com/)

    Nuf sed.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      You didn't need to bother with the quote. This would have sufficed:

      "Stealth Books - http://stealthbooks.wordpress.com

      Nuf said"

      My criticism isn't that they are using WordPress - it's that they're using a subdomain of wordpress.com, which means a free WordPress website. That does not say "professional" to me.

  7. MrT
    Thumb Up

    I can see the back cover now...

    "There’s something compelling ... about this book..." Brid-Aine Parnell, The Register

    Just like so many third-rate movie/book promos do, though usually quoting the paid-off Daily <whatever> critic arts and media press release reporeater...

    Excellent review, BTW - had me laughing as I read it, having experienced books like that before.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    They obviously work for...

    ...a division of Cthulu Enterprises Inc. (Mission statement: "We rip your mind, wholesale"), as I felt my sanity dip as I read this review!

  9. Not That Andrew

    So you came across a war porn story so bad that not even Baen Books would publish it. That is quite an accomplishment. Those are the guys who inflicted John Ringo on Sci-Fi, after all.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Coat

      Did they also publish George Paul?

  10. DropBear Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I just realized...

    ...that Game of Thrones is more or less just Dune not-in-spaaaaace (perhaps sans the Bene Gesserit but complete with fremen with worms and a charismatic leader unsullied with dragons and a charismatic leader) and my mind instantly imploded. Ehhh, maybe I shouldn't drink all that "water of life"...

    1. Sander van der Wal

      Re: I just realized...

      Ah. I always thought that the TV series was a way to reuse the Lord of the Rings movie props.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I just realized...

        Ah. I always thought that the TV series was a way to reuse the Lord of the Rings movie props.

        They're on the other side of the world...

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Plans within plans...

      I've not read the books but I keep thinking that about the TV series. (Did someone mention Face Dancers? From Tleilax, perhaps?) They both deal intelligently(-ish) with religion, court politics, duty, betrayal and revolution. And Dune, with its feudal society, is very medieval in tone. There also seems to be a vague resemblance between Lynch's movie and the GoT TV series; if you said Sansa was a young Jessica I would believe you and Baelish could easily be a twisted Mentat.

  11. Triggerfish

    At least

    the authors haven't started a religion yet.

  12. John Savard Silver badge

    More Wheels

    Vehicles on Mars have extra wheels - sort of like beasts of burden on Mars having more legs. And "The Gods of Mars" was Burroughs' second Martian novel. But somehow I think it would be a stretch to see anything in common between this and Barsoom, except for being light-weight action-adventure.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: More Wheels

      Yeah, why do vehicles need more wheel and seem caterpillar like? No good reason. And "Deca-Trac"? Surely that should be Deka-Trac since deci- is 1/10th and deka is x10

  13. Dr_N Silver badge

    There seems to be a big market for badly written military SciFi

    Audible and Kindle stores are brimmed full of the stuff.

    I suppose this is what we can expect in the age of ePublishing.

    Anything & everything gets released into the wild.

  14. Chris G Silver badge

    Stealth Books

    Sounds like a publisher designed to produce books for the same teens ( if they can read) that collect 'Tactical Knives' https://www.google.es/search?q=Tactical+knife&client=firefox-a&hs=3CV&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=xVAUVIywJoXgaPbjgvAC&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAQ, and later in life will probably drive pick-up trucks, shoot at road signs, have a friend called Bubba and a girlfriend who sees a vet when she's ill.

  15. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Pint

    When I really want to geek out

    I turn to Greg Egan for dry, insanely visionary sci-fi that I nearly have to take notes to understand. Permutation City is an amazing concept, if a bit lacking in character development.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When I really want to geek out

      I turn to Greg Evigan! http://i3.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/061/294/1106514-cool_story_bro_super.jpg

    2. Lapun Mankimasta

      Re: When I really want to geek out

      Hard SF divides itself between Baxter and Egan.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SciFi Channel

    I used to like Lexx. Then Eva Habermann split. Then I didn't like Lexx.

    1. Lapun Mankimasta

      Re: SciFi Channel

      Lexx outranks all the other SF movies, TV Movies, TV series, etc. It was at least funny, with a sly, in-the-ribs "geddit!" tone. Most of the dreck Hollywood excretes doesn't have a sensavuma.

  17. The Axe

    Thank you

    Thank you for reading the book so that we don't have to.

  18. Lapun Mankimasta

    Has anyone chewed his or her legs off yet to survive this book?

    "Thirty-one years old, with straight black hair, olive skin and green eyes,"

    "Thirty-one years old, with straight olive hair, green skin and black eyes,"

    There. Corrected it for you. I always find the green-skinned girls get the most interest as love interests.

  19. mtp

    Uwo boll

    Uwo boll - please step forward. We have a job for you.

  20. JLV Silver badge
    Alien

    Awful? By no means, Amazon says not!

    4.5 stars with 8 reviews.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Gods-War-Graham-Brown-ebook/product-reviews/B00M4S2WIY/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

    "A very good movie material. Call alert to Alfonso Cuaron and Scott Ridley."

    "There’s even philosophical stimulation"

    "you can almost see the movie this book could become"

    "Good guys, bad guys, people in between"

    Several possibilities:

    a) $2.75 price means The Forever War or Mote in God's Eye, no?

    b) The reviewers are family/friends.

    c) The reviewers are morons , easily pleased.

    d) The author of _this_ article just doesn't get great SF in the tradition of Clark, Asimov, Banks and Heinlein.

    (A comparison to the above authors was the key point of a glowing review of a very turgid SF novel I just read and reviewed negatively)

    Advice to those buying cheap Kindle SF, methinks the proportion of lobotomized reviewers increases as price decreases and the number of guns increases. Military, apocalypse and first contact SF seem to attract a number of rabid fans who will devour anything in that field and praise turds as diamonds. I suppose that would be true of zombie SF novels too but haven't dipped my toes.

    I love it when you write a negative review and you get a downvote within an hour or two on an otherwise infrequently reviewed book. A suspicious person, which I am not, might almost suspect the author.

    That said, I have discovered some very very cool new authors on Kindle, and if you wait for the daily discounts, you can get them for quite cheap. Look at the bad reviews first, get a sense if they are of the "OMG... boring, like no action 4 10 pages, back 2 COD, LOL" or the "cardboard characters, unbelievable plot" variety and try to guesstimate how credible the reviewer is.

  21. Bsquared

    Mainstream vs SF

    "Traditionally, sci-fi books tend to just throw details at you and expect you to catch up with jargon, scientific concepts and an entirely different world as you go along. In this book, everything is painstakingly spelled out "

    It isn't just bad writers that do this - good non-genre writers tend to do this when they write SF. Jo Walton perceptively nailed this in one of her blog posts, about the difference between "mainstream" and SF:

    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2008/07/mainstream

    She picks on Doris Lessing, but there are plenty of other offenders. Excellent writers, but they feel the need to SPELL IT OUT for us, rather than letting us interpolate from the clues.

    Dumb Hollywood SF does the same - Basil Exposition always appears at some stage to insult your intelligence and fill in the popcorn-munchers on what's going on.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    perhaps

    it's a spoof?

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