Funny but with unbearable in terms of literary prowess, Expeditionary force by Craig Alanson is an audible delight and an unreadable mess all at once. This book is perfect listening for your own voyage to another planet or long day at the office.
Nice Comedic Twist on an Old Story
Summing up the plot in a single line, our species is blindly led into a war with a supposed enemy after a tragic mistake.
Dropped on a fertile world aptly named Paradise, humans serve as both pawns and peacekeepers. In the ensuing mess, our unlikely hero Joe Bishop blunders his way into power and a setup for several books chock full of helping the furry Ruhar fight our former lizard-like masters.
The novel is fairly similar in plot to other works of space-based military science fiction but our hero acts more like the pizza guy from Brooklyn than a doctor or colonel. In a sub-genre bursting at the seems with derivative works, Alanson strives to be a Jonathon Swift.
Whether you are an adolescent or adult, the plot and themes make at least the audible book a good match for the politically astute. Alanson’s writing is staunchly ati-war.
All of the plot elements of a typical science fiction novel are present and yet there is something refreshing about the satiric nature driving the plot. Space travel utilizes wormholes. There is the typical spaceship and yet there is a space elevator serving cheeseburgers.
Technical marvels often found in other stories take on a light and realistic twist. Marvels such as translators are terrifically bland. The sentient AI is an arrogant jerk.
Even non-technical elements add to the tone. That seemingly outdated purple monstrosity of the 1990s known as Barney takes on symbolic meaning.
Alanson manages to encompass the debate surrounding war in a satiric and enjoyable way. For the non-Social Justice Warrior crowd who were not raised under a rock as children, the book is worth investigating.
Hamster Love, Reading Nightmare
While the plot is well thought out and the comedy well donee, this is not a book to be paired with Jonathon Swift.
If Craig Alanson writes the word hamster one more time, I will personally drop a box of the rodents in his home. Repetitive, nearly droning, and overly explanatory, this book is unbearable from the perspective of a writer.
Alanson fails to grasp basic storytelling principles, going out of the way to explain instead of show. The writing does slowly evolve into a novel instead of a news story.
The writer’s style is not terrible when considering a young adult audience. However, if the book were a movie, it would be rated R. There is not a single graphic depiction of violence or sex but the language, metaphors, and descriptions of force would garner the rating.
RC Bray Shines on Audible
RC Bray is the perfect voice actor for this book. Available, on Audible, Expeditionary force is a terrifically amusing audio book suitable for headphones at work.
His personality, voice, and comedic portrayal of different characters is superb. Bray deserves a full 10 of 10 for his performance and it is surprising that he has not risen to the level of R Lee Ermy for his voice alone.
As a book, this is something I would avoid. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the audible version read by the gruff RC Bray. The poor writing and journalistic style destroys some scenes but the piece works well as background noise for repetitive tasks.
I will admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the AI Bishop stumbles on three-quarters of the way through the book.
6/10 in book form
8/10 on audible