Sunday, March 20, 2016

Review: A Call to Arms by Alan Dean Foster (The Damned, Book 1)

Synopsis: For eons, the Ampliture had searched space for intelligent species, each of which was joyously welcomed to take part in the fulfillment of the Amplitur Purpose. Whether it wanted to or not. When the Amplitur and their allies stumbled upon the union of races called the Weave, the Purpose seemed poised for a great leap forward. But the Weave's surprising unity also gave it the ability to fight the Amplitur and their cause. And fight it did - for thousand of years. Will Dulac was a New Orleans composer who thought the tiny reed off Belize would be the perfect spot to drop anchor and finish his latest symphony in solitude. What he found instead was a group of alien visitors - a scouting parting for the Weave, looking for allies among what they believed to be uniquely warlike race: Humans. Will tried to convince the aliens that Man as fundamentally peaceful, for he understood that Human involvement would destroy the race. But all too soon, it didn't matter. The Amplitur had discovered Earth..... (from the back of the book)

Review: It took me a bit to get into this story. The first chapter or so is a bit slow. But once the Weave met the humans - the story grabbed me hard. Foster does an excellent job of exposing humanity, and letting the reader see humans through the eyes of the aliens. It was both hilarious and horrifying to see the Weave try to make sense of the violent, duplicitous, illogical humans. Foster's assertion is that no matter what humans say, our natural state is violence - which is why peace is so hard for us to achieve. And the Weave may hate that about us, but they need us. The characters were solid and complex, the action and pace of the story excellent (aside from the slow beginning), and the world building well done. As normal for some of the older sci-fi (actually, Sci-Fi in general) there are multiple philosophical discussion among the characters, Sci-fi has always been about the exploration of the universes - including the one in our minds. Foster did a good job of incorporating these discussions without making it seem tedious, preachy, or boring. I actually enjoyed them! And while the end conclusion was the humans are violent sons-a-bitches, the question remains - is that to be abhorred? The book ends with a good question - once the enemy is vanquished, what will happen to the humans, as there is no place for our violence among the peaceful species in the galaxy. I look forward to the next two books to answer that question.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-345-37574-2
Year Published: 1991
Date Finished: 3-15-2015
Pages: 341

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