Book Review: WARLORD by Doc Spears
Modern firepower goes to Mars and picks up where John Carter left off!
It’s been 11 years since Disney shot a hole in John Carter’s boat before pushing it out into the River Iss, deliberately dooming it to failure (because Bob Iger only knows how to buy things, not create them.)
Readers of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ spacefaring Confederate swordsman were highly disappointed, as well as a new wave of fans who actually enjoyed the movie (Hi!). Without more John Carter content to fill the vacuum, plenty of indie authors have thrown their hat into the ring, and right here Doc Spears makes the best effort.
While doing so, he plays to his strengths as a sci-fi author and a US military veteran, giving us the best of both worlds in a story that goes to Barsoom by another name.
Ben Colt is a Green Beret and a drill sergeant. It’s his job to find minute mistakes in his cadets, magnify them, and correct them. This has affected his personal life and made it hard for him to have relationships because he’s always finding fault. While he could find fulfillment in the military, the fact that he doesn’t have active field combat experiences makes him feel like less of a soldier, so he’s failing on multiple fronts.
And yet he has a lot virtuous qualities, he just needs the chance to put them on display. That chance comes when Earth gets invaded by some generic aliens, known only as “the Hairlips” or “the Guests.” One of those the-real-name-doesn’t-translate aliens. The Guests share their tech with Earth, only to later unleash a virus that destroys all human machines and catapults mankind backward by hundreds of years.
Before the virus can hit America, Ben Colt and a bunch of other special forces operators are selected to enter a time portal with some Guest technology, including a Star Trek-esque replicator device. The plan? Have the SF guys come out of the portal in two years when the virus has destroyed America, and use the replicator to rebuild all the wiped-out tech.
So far so good. Ben and the others go into the portal.
They come out somewhere…far wierder.
Plot twist, boys! They end up on Mars! A very familiar Mars, especially to readers of the original John Carter books. How did this happen? Where are they? When are they? These questions form the crux of the story, as Ben follows in John’s footsteps—befriending four-armed aliens, getting a space dog, and falling in love with an extremely hot and well-endowed woman in a metal bikini.
It’s almost a little too ‘John Carter,’ and I’ll admit, I was a little nervous as I read it. Where was he going with this? What was happening? Ben Colt was a guy who liked his pop culture references, so why wasn’t he making more Barsoom quips? What was Doc Spears doing?
There’s an answer to that and I don’t want to spoil it. I’ll just say that the faithful and attentive reader is rewarded, and the answer is satisfying.
In the meantime, Ben’s SF team has a falling out, and in addition to following in Jeddak John’s footsteps, he also has to duke it out with some of his old teammates. It gets spicy.
The Burroughs characters who come into Ben Colt’s life are quite similar to their original iterations. Tars Tarkus is there, Dejah Thoris is of course there, and even Woola has a role to play. They just all have different names and slightly different descriptions, but it’s them.
The human characters, like team leader Ben, team rival Mark, team tech dude Carlo and more…they form a very realistic cast of characters that show you the mind of modern-day warriors. As I was reading this I kept thinking of the other Spears book I’ve read, TIER 1000, and decided that this is where Doc Spears’ strength lies: he makes the reader see how a warrior ticks.
Earth? Ours, slightly in the future, after first contact with aliens.
Mars? Pretty much exactly how the Notorious ERB wrote it. There’s just a bunch of modern weaponry there now, because special forces arrived with a replicator to make whatever they wanted.
Not really a factor, unless you count the inter-tribal stuff on Mars.
Very mild in the PG-13 range, only a handful of profanity in 19 hours of audio.
Who’s it for?
Classic sci-fi fans who like Frazetta covers, and present-day military bros, or anyone who likes the stuff they like.
Why read it?
Because I love the same things about John Carter that Doc Spears loves, and I liked this story that he set in that world, with a modern warrior’s look at it all. A very satisfying read.
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