Expeditionary Force Book One: An Audio Only Book

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 That seemingly outdated purple monstrosity of the 1990s known as Barney takes on symbolic meaning.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


World Building for Adelphus by John Pen (my pseudonym)

Adelphus, meaning brother or of the same womb in Greek, is an exciting tale exploring concepts from human behavior and the politics of discovery on a distant planet to revenge and romance. Explore a mystical new island settled by the offspring of voyagers from earth who have a much different view of colonization then their predecessors. After all, are we that different from our predecessors?

Follow me as I continue on a journey to self-publication.

The World

Welcome to the world. Adelphus is a luscious land with breathable air only slightly altered from our own atmosphere. Humans settled on the largest of many islands dotting the planet with an eye to expanding. Coastal beaches of sand and rock give way to farmland and rain forests with a desert interior not unlike the Australian outback mixed with the Sahara. The characters in this story explore every inch of the terrain. After all, what lurks beneath the waves of the surrounding sea?

At one end of the world is the garden city capital. On the other, a mining colony serves the industrious needs of the new civilization.


The animals of Adelphus range from sentient to downright feral, reptilian to tadpole like. They are anything but human in physique with unique traits and capabilities.


Humans traveled over a century to reach the planet, some perishing along the way. Humanity has not developed faster than light travel or fast space travel. Instead a multitude of pressures on the species led to a more scientifically plausible voyage with more people following over time and the promise of faster travel. The failure of faster than light or convenient travel to materialize is key to the plot.


A massive war erupted after human’s landed on Adelphus. Two factions remain from the many that fought. The original governing structure no longer persists. Instead, two factions led by the Eaton’s and monarchical Everwood clans struggle to maintain power with the Everwood’s in control.


At this point, the characters are developing into full fledged beings. Several chapters of development yielded only several members of this vast ecosystem.

Meet Dane

Dane is a mercenary who survived the civil war following settlement. He is a greedy, motivated, weathered soldier powering through Adelphus. His entire world falls apart within the first chapter. A man of average intellect, he must build from the ground up while avoiding the perils of

Jill the Scientist

Jill took advantage of the moment to open a new frontier beneath the sea. She is smart and ambitious. Her scientific prowess outweighs her political savvy. She and Dane open critical parts of the plot and are introduced in the first few chapters.

The Brute

The brute has no name at the moment. This may not change. He is critical to the plot and works for the Eaton’s. The brute is a loyal enforcer and bastard child of one of the Eaton patriarchy.

The Everwoods

The Everwood matriarchy controls nearly everything with the brutality of Queen Elizabeth but is in a guerilla battle with the Eaton’s. They maintain complete control over the capital but are fighting for the mining colony. Sexism is overrated.

The Eaton’s

The Eaton’s are fighting to retain ground given up from the civil war and take control of at least half of the island from a lair at the top of a dormant volcano.