Germline (n): the genetic material contained in a cellular lineage that can be passed to the next generation. Also (slang): secret military program to develop genetically engineered supersoldiers.
One hundred years from now, Russia and the United States are at odds again. This time the war has gone hot. Heavily armored soldiers battle genetically engineered troops hundreds of meters below the icy, mineral-rich mountains of Kazakhstan.
War is Oscar Wendell’s ticket to greatness. A reporter for the Stars and Stripes, he has the only one-way ticket to the front lines. The front smells of blood and fire and death—it smells like a Pulitzer.
But Kaz changes people, and the chaos of war feels a bit too much like home. Hooked on a dangerous cocktail of drugs and adrenaline, Oscar starts down a dark road he won’t be able to turn back from.
©2011 T. C. McCarthy (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Compelling…. Recalling the work of Remarque, Willi Heinrich, and especially Michael Herr, McCarthy’s delirious narrative avoids cliché and raises intriguing questions about what it means to be human.” (Publishers Weekly)
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
It is a military sci-fi that doesn't include weapon-porn (so we are not subjected to what size rounds fit in which type of gun, nor how many revolutions ammunition might make in a gun barrel, or the armour penetration per inch by weapon type, etc). I like military-ish fiction that doesn't include gun/military enthusiasts' fantasies, so this book fit the bill for me.
Sure, some of the military stuff was glossed over, and some of the sci-fi was glossed over... and really, it wasn't all that sci-fi-y. It's almost like a straight up "look, I survived an atrocious war even though I came out scarred" novel. There was nothing in it that is outside the current realm of possibility: although some of the tech might not actually exist yet, the theories behind the tech does.
But the book isn't really even about war, it's about the people impacted by war...
The main character isn't a soldier. And that means we get to see a very long war from an alternative point of view. I also think it allowed Oscar to be better written, and more humanized than he would have been if he was a proper soldier. i.e. there was no real harm in him being high as a kite in the midst of battle since he wasn't really supposed to be there anyway.
The story is actually one of growth and maturity: it's the maturation of one man - because of, or in spite of, a horrendous war background. There is some (not overly moralistic) message about how war scars people psychologically, and how our veterans may not receive the respect and help they require after returning... particularly in circumstances where the "war" has slipped from the front page.
The narration is fine. Surprisingly, there is not much gore or swearing, and there is no detailed sex. The story is wrapped up completely at the end.
Intense and brutal, Germline is a totally absorbing military SF novel. It is also difficult to describe. It reminds me a lot of the stories that came out of World Wars 1 and 2 in that it is not about glory and has very little heroism. It is more about the ultimate hopelessness of war and the physical and mental destructiveness, even for those who survive.
The term "germline" refers to genetically engineered soldiers who form an important part of the fighting forces. However, to me that isn't what the story is about. It is a grim, grim story of battle and it is also a story about friendship and caring.
The main protagonist is Oscar Wendall, a reporter for Stars and Stripes. He has a drug problem and sees his career spiraling downward. He hopes that an assignment to the front will let him redeem himself. That isn't how things work out. Instead, he finds himself trying to survive in the midst of a brutal, all-out, no-holds-barred struggle -- a struggle in which his own personal demons come out to haunt him.
In the hands of a less skillful writer, this story would be a caricature of war. But, T.C. McCarthy pulls it off very well.
I think fans of science fiction--and in particular, military scifi--deserve accurate pronounciation of terms. It is "core-man," NOT "cores-man," and yes, I know how it's spelled. The "s", just like the "p" is silent. There were other mispronounciations as well, but this one just screamed out at me every time I heard it. There are no acceptable excuses. I don't blame the reader, who in every other regard did a fine job. No, I blame the producer and the director. Take some care and pride in your work. I paid good money for this audiobook. I deserve the words to be pronounced correctly.
Story was harsh, but compelling. Reader needs to learn that corpsman is pronounced "koorman". This book was "credit worthy" if you want a slightly future gritty war story.
This book really surprised me, and once the story had me I couldn't put it down (well, pause it I suppose). The story was excellent, the characterization superb, and the portrayal of the conflict very realistic. It reminded me very much of my first reading of Micheal Herr's Dispatches. The narration was spot on, and perfectly in-tune with the personalities in the story. Probably one of my best purchases thus far on Audible.
I'm a voracious audiobibliophile, mainly interested in speculative fiction, with the occasional mimetic fiction or non-fiction title sneaking in.
In her review for Bull Spec #6, C.D. Covington called Germline ???equal parts The Forever War and Hammer???s Slammers??? and that???s pretty high praise. The book doesn???t have the star-spanning scope of Joe Haldeman???s The Forever War, and it doesn???t have the attention to detail of Hammer???s Slammers. But neither of these is the point. The novel is a first person foray into a future war through the eyes of an increasingly strung-out failed journalist. There is no lengthy exposition of how the battle suits work, what the weapons or countryside look like, or, in fact, lengthy exposition at all. There are missteps (particularly in some of the major transitions) and the book doesn???t achieve perfection, but there???s just something to it: something which vaguely recalls Vonnegut, or even Kerouac, in its bouncing, drug-blurred narrative. Publishers Weekly name-checks ???Remarque, Willi Heinrich, and especially Michael Herr??? but these names don???t mean much to me (though a quick trip to Wikipedia was quite informative). At a brisk 9 hours, very well-cast with Corren???s narration, it was exactly the summer change-up I needed from the 40-50 hour epics of George R.R. Martin. (Which I enjoyed immensely in that mode, but there???s a certain discount factor when comparing books of 9 and 50 hours!)
The future of war on earth is shitty. Shitty reasons, shitty conditions. This book is a good counterbalance to scifi war books that are just a grand adventure (which I also enjoy). Worth your time.
I enjoyed this book. It is a grimy / dirt military adventure with Strong characters and excellent writing. The author will move to the upper portion on my list.
I am currently an urban fantasy devotee. From Just fantasy to romance.
I have no problem with the writing in this book. It is written well. The only thing I do not like about the book is sometimes in flashbacks, the transition is not clear enough. This may have been intentional due to the nature of the narrator, but it still made it difficult to follow.
Book ratings are subjective. Objectively, this is an excellent book. It delves well into what happens to people in war. I have not experienced it myself, but it feels authentic. What I have seen from the outside of soldiers that have served in wars, it seems realistic.
And that is my SUBJECTIVE reason for giving this book 2 stars. Objectively, I would probably give this 4 stars, subjectively... the subject matter is too foreign to me, to odd, and to... real. I tend to read/listen for escapism. This book is brutal reality, and just... not MY type of book.
So take this as a SUBJECTIVE opinion, and don't ignore this book if it is your type of book.
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