- Contains The Darkside War, Titan’s Fall, and Jupiter Rising
- Published by Saga Press
- First Published 2017
- Military SF
- 711 pages
Humanity is not alone in the universe. But when the galaxy is consumed by a war between two alien alliances, humanity is pressed into military service. With no choice in the matter, the latest recruits of this war are thrown into action, underprepared and ill-informed . . .
Speaking in very broad terms, there are two types of military SF. The best of the genre is those books that actively engage with the role of the military within a larger society. The books that give an insight into the military mind, and analyse the inner workings of the military machine. The other kind is the semi-brainless shoot-’em-ups a lot of people assume the genre is all about. There’s usually nothing wrong with these books, but they’re not as satisfying as the former category. The only real issue I take with them is when they think they’re smarter than they are, but such cases are few and far between. Generally speaking then, I’m happy to read about humans blowing aliens to bits. After all, when you’ve just had a nice steak, why not follow it with some sticky toffee pudding.
The Icarus Corps is very much an action thriller rather than anything deep and insightful. Told in the first person, it’s quick and punchy with great scenes of combat and a well-paced conspiracy going along in the background. Most of the military SF I read is strongly human-focused, with usually just the one or two alien species as enemies or cannon fodder. The Icarus Corps has a much more diverse world. The viewpoint characters are human, and humanity is inevitably at the centre of the conflict, but that conflict takes place between two factions, each of them consisting of an alliance of species. One is clearly the villain, but even humanity’s ‘allies’ are really just oppressors under another name. Some of the aliens are a little wacky for my liking – ostrich doctors and cybernetic velociraptors – but the factions are largely well-drawn.
Entertaining but unremarkable, The Icarus Corps is a series I likely wouldn’t have finished had I been reading the books as independent volumes. But it’s also one I don’t regret having brought the omnibus of. There’s something nice about having a whole series in your hand at once, and this rather chunky book just flew by. Given how long individual books have become in recent years (with science fiction following the fantasy trend of running to bloated lengths) it’s perhaps unsurprising that so few publishers put out omnibuses these days. Black Library is the only publisher I am aware of that does so with any regularity, though Gollancz have put out a few collections of older works.
If it sounds like I’m rambling, that’s because I find that, after seven hundred pages, I don’t have a whole lot to say about The Icarus Corps. I can’t put my finger on any glaring flaws, yet nothing about it really stands out either. There are worse things to be than forgettable, but I’d much rather a book stick in my mind. The Icarus Corps was a fun journey while it lasted, but it’s one where I’m already moving on for a new destination.
More Military SF Books
Stark’s War, by Jack Campbell
Terms of Enlistment, by Marko Kloos
Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi