Prophets of the Ghost Ants
was a unique novel that I guess falls in the category of epic fantasy - something like a cross between "Conan" and "Honey I Shrunk the Kids". The exposition briefly explains that the earth suffered some sort of environmental crisis that caused, through the process of evolution, humans to shrink in size so drastically that they were able to symbiotically use ants as mounts and draft animals. Humans are broken up into feudal, iron-age tribes and their cultures and means with which they wage war are molded around the species of ants they've domesticated; carpenter ants, leafcutter ants, bomber ants, and in some cases, termites or cockroaches. Carlton has a deep well to draw from since the natural world so often has monsters and treasures more fantastic than what most writers can imagine. The war scenes, in particular, are brutal and terrible in manners not explored by most fantasy novels. The main negative I found in the book was the use of rape as a weapon of war. It's realistic for a relatively primitive, feudal society, and it's never gratuitous or as horribly graphic as what I read in Jose Saramago's Blindness
, but there's a lot of it. It's a fairly regular occurrence and it's explained frankly and without any florid, emotional prose - in fact, the impassiveness with which it is described is part of the problem. Aside from that distasteful detail this is a unique fantasy epic that I would have otherwise 5-starred on Goodreads.Footfall
is a world-wide alien invasion by Niven and Pournelle - the same guys who wrote Lucifer's Hammer
, one of the best post-apocalypse novels ever written and probably the single book that drew me to the genre. Footfall
shares many of the same aspects of a good post apocalypse story, with the added benefit that it's kind of a world-wide "Red Dawn" scenario as well. I still couldn't take the story very seriously, unfortunately, because of the authors' decision to make the aliens look like baby elephants. I simply could not take them seriously. I suspect the authors felt they could make them sinister by describing the aliens' ruthlessness and overwhelming technological superiority, but it wasn't enough for me; it's still Dumbo with a ray gun. The book also suffers from a 4-page dramatis personae
and not enough time to flesh all of those characters out, but the same mistake is made in Lucifer's Hammer
- once you figure out who the main players are you can practically ignore the other characters. That is, of course, assuming you're as bad with names as I am, heh.