We All Died At Breakaway Station
Copyright 1969 by
I first read this on the 7th May 2004.
Mankind is fighting desperately against a venomous and vicious alien
enemy, the Jillies. Across the Paladine, a great swath of space light years
wide, the battles continue.
Our forces are coordinated by FTL communications provided from Earth to the outer
reaches by a chain of massive space stations. If any one of these stations
is lost to the aliens, Earth's forces will suffer a heavy blow in their
operations against this alien enemy.
Now the Jillies are massing to attack Breakaway Station. This station is
only lightly defended and unless reinforcements can be delivered in time,
the Jillies will take it.
Earth however has no regular forces close enough to protect the station.
The only possible reinforcement is a hospital ship and the two battle
cruisers escorting it back to Earth. The hospital ship carries the
frozen remains of thousands of solders who may still be revived and repaired.
The crews of the ships are war casualties themselves, still desperately
injured, temporarily repaired, some rebuilt as cyborgs.
Captain Absolom Bracer is now only half-human, his head and chest mounted
upon a medical pedestal, and with one prosthetic arm and one mechanical.
As captain, he needs his wits about him, he must stay alert, so he doesn't
take his painkillers and he hurts.
Regardless, he and his crew will defend the station. Like the Spartans at
Thermopylae, they with immense courage and bravery will do what is required
of them. He and his crew will be heroes, alive or dead.
Stirring space opera. It's a classic but the melodramatic writing holds it
back from being a masterpiece.
This novel would have blown me away as a teenager
and I wish I had first read it then - I'd have remembered it very fondly,
It may still have a strong effect on today's younger readers.
I liked the idea of the FTL system: carried as faster than light modulations
on a light beam. Since the medium is light, the connection between two
stations is only established at light speed, but thereafter communication is
at FTL speeds. If the transmission between stations is broken, years must
be spent re-establishing the connection. Thus Breakaway station must be held
against all alien onslaught (interestingly it has recently been shown that
pulses can travel down a light beam at FTL speeds, but sadly no information
can be passed).
What we get strongly is that these are trauma victims, but the fact
that some of them have actually died and been revived doesn't come
across convincingly, or at least there's is no particular impact from
What's it got? loathsome aliens with a penchant for vivisection,
cyborgs, battle ships attacking from space, armadas clashing in space,
human frailty and heroism and quite a bit of sex.
Loaded on the 1st May 2006.