Terminal Alliance by Jim C. Hines
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am the type of person who wonders where the bath rooms are on the Enterprise and the Death Star. Sure, the Falcon has neat hiding holes, but how are the toilet systems? Does the head have a seat beat? And how did Luke go to the bathroom on his way to Cloud City or wherever? Does the transporter take care of bodily functions?
In part this is curiosity, in part this is because I would be the one losing her lunch in the bathroom, so I really want to know.
Hines’ latest book is about those on such famous ships who rarely get mention and never get thought about – the janitors. In other words, Finn before he got sent to a planet where he didn’t like killing people unless they were people he knew.
(Sorry, I like Finn. In many ways, his reactions later in the movie are the most realistic, but that beginning sequence does Finn’s character a disservice. He is cheering killing people he knows).
Mops is a human in charge of a cleaning crew on the Pufferfish (the ships in this novel are named after the deadliest animals in human history). The human race has go through a collapse, not so much destroying everyone, but turning everyone feral (like zombies but not dead). The Krakau have developed a cure for this temperament, and humans who are cured work as mercs. The species has a reputation for stupidity, toughness, and blood thirstiness. Unfortunately for Pufferfish, on a recent assignment, the majority of the human crew has gone feral. The only ones who haven’t are Mops and her crew: Kumar, Monroe, and Mozart. There is also Puffy, who is more of hinderance, and Grom who is like centipede. Mops is determined to find out what happen and to cure her crewmates, leading to the adventure story that is the book.
Being a Hines book, there is much laughter. Part of it comes from the use of names, cured humans take names of famous people. So, Monroe, for instance, is named for Marylin. There are also the various reactions to human things, such as a dig at erotica. For the reader, there is the added bonus of reading being forefront in the story.
Truthfully, at the start the book is a bit slow and one of the big reveals, isn’t really a surprise for the careful reader (and Hines doesn’t treat it as such, to be fair). Yet, this book is also one of those books that illustrates the strengths of sci-fi, in particular humorous sci-fi.
The treatment of humans in the novel by other alien species is basically any ism that is in society today or in the past. Some of the comments, for instance, you have seen in the descriptions of Africans by Europeans or white slave owners. Hines is also getting the reader to think about how knowledge is transmitted or not transmitted; in fact, he tackles several big questions in this book. By doing so, quite frankly, he cements his place as America’s Terry Pratchett, who also dealt with big questions in funny ways.
View all my reviews