This week I decided to review First Salik War: The Terrans by Jean Johnson.
The story opens with Jackie MacKenzie, a Terran psychic who served in the military and also served as a high ranking politician whose commission has suddenly been reactivated, on her way to a meeting. At this point, the only aliens Terrans have encountered are the Greys, with the abilities of the Terran military’s psychics being their only solid advantage, but recently a number of psychics with pre-cognitive abilities have been seeing visons of Terrans meeting a variety of alien species. A number of Terrans have been identified in these visions including MacKenzie, and these Terrans are being gathered as part of a plan to launch an expedition seeking the aliens seen in the visions.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the galaxy, the V’Dan and their allies are fighting a desperate war against the Salik, a race that views other sentient species as food and prefers to eat their prey alive. The V’Dan cruiser T’un Tunn G’Deth has been boarded, and while most of the crew wishes to commit suicide rather than be captured, Li’eth, the ship’s captain, chooses to surrender. He explains to his crew that there is an ancient prophecy regarding their vessel’s capture which says some of them will not only survive but be rescued by inhabitants of the legendary lost homeworld of the V’Dan. However, Li’eth has a secret that, if revealed, will result in him going on a one way trip to the Salik homeworld to serve as dinner for the Salik leadership.
Meanwhile back in the Sol system, the Terran expedition is preparing for their mission, but tensions soon rise between MacKenzie and Lieutenant Colvers who dislikes all psychics. Despite thse issues, the ship launches and is soon captured by the same Salik force that captured the T’un Tunn G’Deth, and MacKenzie manages to form a psychic link with Li’eth, who is an untrained psychic, allowing the Terrans and the surviving V’Dan to escape and flee back to Earth. The V’Dan are themselves humans, descended from a group teleported from Earth to the V’Dan capital world thousands of years earlier, but cultural differences between the two groups soon have the situation on the verge of diplomatic catastrophe, and Li’eth must reveal his ultimate secret to prevent disaster.
I give this book 6.5 out of 10. It is mostly diplomatic activity with little combat. I could forgive that, but there are some major blunders. Clovers’ reason for disliking psychics in general comes across as something more suited to a young child than a military officer, and while the fact that some V’Dan have trouble accepting Terrans as adults because Terrans don’t have the markings that most V’Dan get in puberty due to the virus used to adapt them to their new world isn’t as bad, it still takes far too long to drill through some characters’ heads in my opinion making it hard to immerse myself in the story at times.