When I was a kid, I read my fair share of science-fiction. As an adult, I still ingest a decent amount of sci-fi in other media, but when it comes to the written word, I tend to lean more towards what can best be called “non-genre fiction”, political diatribes and biographies of musicians. Comic books aside, I don’t read an awful lot of sci-fi (and most of the comics I read aren’t really sci-fi, either, unless you consider super-hero stories a subset of science-fiction). With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was drawn in by “Alien Hunter, Star Trooper”.
This book, by Australian author David K. Scholes, follows an alien known only as Earle (previous appearances of the character sometimes use the spelling Urrle, suggesting that the rather Earthly name is probably just the best translation available to us) after he is mysteriously deposited on Earth by an arbitrary universal force known as the Hand of God effect. Having read previous short stories featuring the character, most notably in the “Essential Reading in Science Fiction” compilation, I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with Scholes’ work, or with Earle. This novella, however, collected from a 12-part serial that ran in Golden Visions Science Fiction magazine, gave a more complete and compelling look at the character and his adventures.
In this book, Earle is transported to Earth from a distant corner of the Universe by a random universal effect known as the Hand of God. We learn a bit about his past accomplishments and the hardships he’s endured. A hard man, renowned throughout the universe as the best of the best amongst Alien Hunters and Starship Troopers, Earle has also been subject to terrible tragedy. It is outside of his considerable powers to return from whence he came until such time as the Hand of God decides to take him back. So, what does an incredibly formidable warrior from an advanced civilization do when he finds himself trapped on a backwater world like ours for an indefinite period of time? Earle decides to get involved and take a proactive role in the affairs of his temporary home. What that means exactly, I’ll leave for you to discover for yourself, as I recommend picking up a copy of this book.
Along the way, you’ll meet or learn about a lot of the alien forces in our universe, some benevolent, some benign. The Tolden, the Brell, Shifters, Super-Shifters, the Drealth and others complicate Earle’s life and that of the Earth. Most importantly, Earle will meet Chris McInnes, a remarkable earth woman who works as a Detective for the Chicago Police Department. Chris, too, has recently endured terrible personal tragedy, but like Earle she is strong and has an uncommon well of determination to draw from. As we learn more about Chris, she turns out to be full of surprises and secrets. Her role on her home world and her growing relationship with Earle turn out to be things that even the mysterious forces that run the cosmos will respect.
There’s a lot to enjoy here. The main characters are interesting and enigmatic, there is a credible element of romance mixed in with the action and suspense. If I had any criticisms, the first would be fairly pedestrian. A more thorough editing, or rather proofreading, job would be helpful as there are a few grammatical errors and such along the way that don’t detract from the experience much and are likely to occur during the writing process but which should be caught by a good proofreader. The second would be that many of Earle’s fights sometimes go a tad too easily, though in some cases it’s to be expected considering who he is and who some of his foes are. Which is not to say that he is never challenged. In fact – oh, but that would be telling. At any rate, these are relatively minor quibbles. The story itself is extremely engrossing, the characters are compelling and make you want to learn more about them, and the universe Mr. Scholes creates is a rich and complex one, full of mighty star faring races, mysterious cosmic forces and, at the eye of the storm, two people trying to make some kind of difference, Earle and Chris.
If I read more science-fiction books that were this much fun, I might spend more of my reading hours with the genre again. It reminds me of the feel some classic sci-fi had, such as Bradbury or Heinlein, in the sense that you tend to lose yourself in the world Scholes has created. Isn’t that what sci-fi is supposed to do?