Cobra Strike by Timothy Zahn

Book Cover

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Timothy Zahn after the first book in this series. Johnny, the main character from the first book, now has three sons. The eldest at 27 is involved in politics, just like Johnny. The two other sons are a pair of twins, one which becomes a Cobra. I was hoping that there would be more action, but for the first third of the book I was fairly disappointed. It consisted mostly of political ramblings concerning a very controversial offer that one of the Troft trading partners proposed. They had identified a world near Troft space that was considered a significant threat. If the Cobras could neutralize this threat, the Trofts were willing to give the colony five new worlds.

After about 100 pages of hemming and hawing over ethical dilemmas, the Aventine government finally decided to launch a reconnaissance mission. The mission would be split into two parts. While the researchers determined if the worlds the Trofts were offering are viable, the Cobras would assess the threat on the alien world. What they didn’t expect was that the aliens were actually humans that split off from the Dominion of Man thousands of years ago.

These people named their planet Qasama and have been confined to their world since they lost their star drive technology. They all have these birds on their shoulders called Mojos which act as protectors. Everyone carries guns for defense against the dangerous wildlife, but if any Qasaman threatens another, the Mojos intervene. Because of this, there is virtually no serious fighting between Qasamans as far as war is concerned.

The Qasamans appear to be relatively friendly and willing to show the Aventinians the inner workings of their society. That didn’t last for long, because the Qasamans decided to try and steal the landing ship so they could study it and rediscover star drive technology. They weren’t counting on Cobras to be in the landing party, so had quite a surprise.

After this point, the story picked up quite a bit. The rest of the book was mostly battles between the landing party and the Qasamans. There was quite a bit more action than in the first book, which I appreciated, but it seemed that when the story was starting to get good, it ended. Overall, this book was better than the first one, so if you already have time invested, you might as well read the sequel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you are a human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Post

1984 by George Orwell1984 by George Orwell

Book Cover
I’m not sure why, but I have just got around to reading 1984. For some reason it was never required reading for me in high school. I was familiar with the “Big Brother” concept as it is a very common reference. Recently, the Patriot Act of 2001 and subsequent reauthorization in 2005 has been criticized by many. For me, 1984 was a very interesting read, because a lot of George Orwell’s concepts seem very plausible today.

I can’t really emphasize enough how important it is to read the Appendix of 1984 first. It covers the official government language of Oceana. This is called “Newspeak,” and is designed to simplify the English language and control human thought. As a quick example, there is no word for bad, just ungood. Excellent would be replaced by something like doubleplusgood. Another important word central to the plot is doublethink, or the ability to hold two contradicting ideas in one’s mind and truly believe both.

The story takes place in Oceana, one of three superpowers that is always at war with either Eastasia or Eurasia. The Party controls all information and feeds political propaganda to the public and keeps the public under constant surveillance through telescreens which act as both televisions and video cameras. The main character, Winston Smith, works for the Party in the Ministry of Truth.

The description of the Ministry of Truth was very scary. Essentially it is responsible for storing all information and knowledge, and subsequently can modify any of it to suit its own purpose. For example, Oceana can swith alliances with one of the other two superpowers, and all of historical information would be changed. Winston’s job is to modify records to match Party policy whenever changes or errors are made. He secretly despises Big Brother and the Party, and is eventually approached by a woman named Julia who shares his feelings. They eventually become lovers, but Winston is a bit concerned. She does not seem to be as aware of the political brainwashing as he is.

It was rather more of a shock to him when he discovered from some chance remark that she did not remember that Oceania, four years ago, had been at war with Eastasia and at peace with Eurasia. It was true that she regarded the whole war as a sham: but apparently she had not even noticed that the name of the enemy had changed. ‘I thought we’d always been at war with Eurasia,’ she said vaguely. It frightened him a little.

They eventually make contact with O’Brien, a secret member of an underground resistance. He warns them that they will get caught eventually, and they will confess (under torture), and for that reason their knowledge of who are members will be kept to the absolute minimum. They are given “THE BOOK” which contains the musings of Goldstein, the leader of the resistance. The excerpts that Winston reads describe some very morbid ideas about war, which are very interesting. There are quite a few other tidbits in there as well.

Orwell’s 1984 is very deep and thought provoking. If anything, it is more relevant today, than when it was published in 1949. Technology is advancing at an alarming rate. Within the last few years, the FBI obtained warrants to wiretap cell phones of mobsters under investigation. This might seem innocuous, but the technique they used was able to activate the microphone on the phones remotely without a call being placed, and might have been possible to record conversations near the phone while it was turned off! Just recently, in The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne develops a technology that ties into cell phones to create a much more elaborate surveillance system. How long it will be until something like that is possible?

I’m partial to reading physical books, but if you like to read ebooks, 1984 is available at Project Gutenberg.

Contact by Carl SaganContact by Carl Sagan

Contact Book Cover

If I remember correctly, I saw Contact (the movie) in the theater when it came out. I enjoyed it and always wondered how it compared to the book. It turned out that my future wife owned the book, but I didn’t get around reading it until now. Of course movies rarely ever measure up to the novels they are based on, and this was no exception. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was good, however it just scratched upon the surface of what the novel contains. (more…)

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice BurroughsA Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

I recently started using Overdrive, a digital library site that my local library participates in. I stumbled across Sense of Wonder: A Century of Science Fiction. A Princess of Mars was just the first of dozens of stories, novellas, and novels strung together with commentary on Science Fiction as a genre. I thought it would be interesting to branch out to some older stuff that I normally have not had a chance to get to.

A Princess of Mars was originally published in 1912 in All-Story Magazine under the title “Under the Moons of Mars” by Normal Bean. The story begins with the narrator explaining that he is relaying a manuscript given to him in book form. He goes over a brief biography of the main character, John Carter, known as Captain Jack Carter of Virginia — an American Civil War veteran. John finished the manuscript the shortly before his death in 1886. The manuscript begins normal enough, talking about how John and one of his friends were prospecting for gold out West. They found a good spot, and the friend was going to head back to get proper papers for staking the claim. John happens to notice three dots in the distance in the direction his friend departed, and after investigating is convinced that Apache Indians are pursuing his friend. Not much of a spoiler, but here it goes — he tries to save his friend and fails, then finds himself chased into a cave. This is where the story takes a turn toward science fiction. After a brief series of events that I won’t get into, John finds himself in some type of out of body experience then wakes up on Mars. (more…)