Semper Human by Ian Douglas (The Inheritance Trilogy 3)

This is the last book in a Marine Corps Saga spanning thousands of years and three trilogies. The Trilogies are first Heritage, then Legacy and finally The Inheritance Trilogy. It is an epic military saga about the Marine Corps and the Garroway family that serves in it.

Ian Douglas (Willian H.  Keith) has built a formidable epic universe with a history spanning millions of years. Here are the highlights in the history of the Milky Way you might need to place the books in perspective.

  • 50-30 million of years ago the One Mind created a network of stargates across the galaxy.
  • 30-10 million of years ago they where replaced by a The Children of the  Night, a nocturnal psychovore race (sounds like vampires to me).
  • 10 million years ago to the present, dominance by the Xul, a xenophobic race of uploaded electronic sentients that exterminate all threats to their existence. This explains the Femdi paradox (why space is empty of intelligent life).
  • 500 000 years ago the Builder civilization created an empire spanning several thousand light years, terra forming Mars and uplifting some of the primitive inhabitants of earth to be their servants, creating Homo Sapiens. Ultimately the Builder’s civilization was destroyed  by the Xul.
  • 10000-7000 BC a race called the An colonize earth and the moon, later to be remembered as the gods of Sumeria. They are destroyed by Xul asteroid strikes.
  • 6000 BC the amphibious N’mah visits earth and help with rebuilding civilization before departing to Sirius.
  • As we ourself explore space in the near future we will uncover more and more alien technology which boost us further until we eventually attract the attention of the Xul.
  • The Heritage Trilogy takes place during the later half of the  21st century and covers the marine corps fights inside our solar system mostly with European Forces.
  • The Legacy Trilogy cover the first stellar deployments of the Marine Corps and the first battles against the Xul (2138-2323 AD)
  • The Inheritance Trilogy covers the galactic war against the Xul to the final confrontation in 4004 (year 2229 of the Marine Corps)

The final conflict

Chaos has erupted throughout the known galaxy, threatening countless colonies and orbital habitats—as the Associative struggles vainly to keep the peace. Extreme measures are called for in these times of dire crisis, and the Star Marines are awakened from their voluntary 850-year cybe-hibe sleep. But General Trevor Garroway and his warriors are about to discover that the old rules of engagement have drastically changed . . .

The end begins with an old-style assault on rebels at the Tarantula Stargate. But true terror looms at the edges of known reality. Humankind’s eternal enemy—the brutal, unstoppable Xul—approaches, wielding a weapon monstrous beyond imagining. Suddenly not only is the future in jeopardy, but the past is as well—and if the Marines fail to eliminate their relentless xenophobic foe once and for all, the Great Annihilator will obliterate every last trace of human existence.

The start is a bit confusing because no one really know what is going on while it builds an interesting background for the story. In the 5th millennium the galaxy is organized in the Associative, a loose association of intelligent races.

The Marines have trouble with the changes in the society. Everyone is implanted and they have AIs monitoring thoughts and socially adjusting bad behavior. This doesn’t sit well with some of the marines. There is usually only a few crimes or acts of violence a year. Now there is tens of thousands all across the galaxy and some thinks the Xul are responsible. Others don’t and some wan’t to use the Marines to quell the unrest instead of sending them against the Xul.

This is the second book lately that takes up the issues with computers linking human minds to each other and to other entities. The other one is We by John Dickinson. And it should be considered, especially from today’s always connected socially networked perspective. Where will it end, and where do we not want to end up? I love to have instant access to all the information on the net, but I would hate to have someone manipulating me that way (as if we are not being manipulated every day as it is, with adds, placements and all  kinds of  marketing and propaganda). Maybe I’ll get used to it?

The science is interesting and the author might have taken a few liberties with it, but in general it is built on current theories. And the author reason with you and explains the ‘science’ making it believable. I liked the division of teleportation into quantum, gravitational, psychic, beamed and dimensional with explanation. I know Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable source of information but I did find a lot of stuff he referenced in these books in there.

The characters in the book is maybe it’s weakest side. But we are talking about military men and  women forged in battle, so maybe they don’t need to be so multi dimensional. It works in the story. You feel with them when they succeed and you suffer with them as they fail. But I at least didn’t take them fully into my heart. Each book has a main character, but they change over the series so its not like you fought with the same one for nine books.

Ian Douglas is a pseudonym for William H. Keith [homepage]. He writes military fiction and science fiction under many pseudonyms, many of them about the Marines. He joined the Navy and served as a hospital corpsman during the Vietnam era and his own experience shows.

The whole series is a great homage to the Marines, where every man is a rifleman first. It is a strong moral story about standing up for your team and your ideals. It also have great world-building and believable science within the fiction. You should read the other books in the Inheritance Trilogy before Semper Human, there is lots of references. I strongly recommend the whole series to any lover of military science fiction and space opera.