War Games – Brian Stableford

Fair UseBrian Stableford’s War Games had some interesting ideas, but I don’t feel he executed them very well.

The time is during an ancient intergalactic war between humanity and the Veitch, kinda like the conflict in Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee Sequence. The place is the desert planet Heidra, where an archaeologist hopes to uncover an end to the war in the ancient ruins of an advanced alien race. He is assisted by the protagonist Remy, a human deserter. Remy’s an interesting character in that he’s involved in an intimate relationship with a Veitch woman, but none of the individual characters’ stories find an satisfactory conclusion.

One of the interesting ideas I referred to in the introduction is the novel’s take on the origin of life. The Veitch and humans are genetically very similar, as are most intelligent species in the galaxy. The consensus view is that convergent evolution is to blame, but the archaeologist reckons that some spooky precursors are to blame. I also liked the Optiman, genetically engineered superhumans who lacked only the ability to procreate.

The main problem I had with War Games is that some characters have a tendency to speak in exposition. Characterisation was also not great, with me having little reason to care about anyone in the story. Granted I was in the final throes of my minor thesis, but there should have seen something.

I’d recommend this only for Stableford fans. Great cover, though.

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2 comments

  1. I have yet to find a Stableford novel that is more than average. That said, my friends proclaim The Man in the Cage and underrated, nihilistic, terrifying, Malzberg-esque classic! (thankfully, I have a copy!)

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    1. I’m not really bothered about this book’s quality. I bought it at an op-shop where you could get a bag full of books for two dollars. So I probably only paid five cents for it.

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