Germline (The Subterrene War Trilogy 1) by T.C. McCarthy (Orbit)

Gritty and Painfully Realistic

There is something I like with war correspondents. This is the second book about one this year that I have been impressed by.

Oscar Wendell is down on his luck, addicted to drugs but assigned to be the first reporter allowed to the frontline when the story starts. I have seldom read a story so gritty and painfully realistic about war as this one given of course it is military science fiction.

In the near future wars are fought over metals in the earth crust. The soldiers fight deep underground to protect miners and no one fight more fiercely than the genetics or the Gs as they are called here.

We follow Oscar on a personal journey through different battlefields as he is changed by battle and strife. It is so intense and emotional at times that I can believe myself being there feeling what he feels.

The Gs on the US side are all female so there is the obvious and welcome love connection for Oscar but not without its problems as these soldiers have been created with a best before date and feed a belief system making themselves want to die on their 18th birthday. At first only the US forces have Gs but that soon changes as does the success in the war.

Not all the action takes place underground. We get to experience war from many different sides before the satisfying conclusion. Even though it is mostly about the characters Germline has some interesting technologies and gadgets. Like the battle armor and plasma grenades.

Germline is the first in a trilogy of standalone books that view the Subterrene war from different points of views. The next one Exogene is about one of the Gs and it will be out in March next year.

T. C. McCarthy impresses the hell out of me with this hard-hitting debut. Germline is a gritty and painfully realistic military science fiction that can stand on its own against the best in the genre. It is dark but also very personal up close. If you have the slightest interest in war stories you should read this.

You might also want to read The Big Idea: T. C. McCarthy over at Whatever for more background.

Book information

Germline (The Subterrene War Trilogy 1) by T.C. McCarthy (Orbit) – review copy – Amazon US | UK

Germline (n.) the genetic material contained in a cellular lineage which can be passed to the next generation. Also: secret military program to develop genetically engineered super-soldiers (slang).

War is Oscar Wendell’s ticket to greatness. A reporter for The Stars and Stripes, he has the only one way pass to the front lines of a brutal war over natural resources buried underneath the icy, mineral rich mountains of Kazakhstan.

But war is nothing like he expected. Heavily armored soldiers battle genetically engineered troops hundreds of meters below the surface. The genetics-the germline soldiers-are the key to winning this war, but some inventions can’t be un-done. Some technologies can’t be put back in the box.

Kaz will change everything, not least Oscar himself. Hooked on a dangerous cocktail of adrenaline and drugs, Oscar doesn’t find the war, the war finds him.