Books : reviews

Dave Freer, Eric Flint.
Rats, Bats and Vats.
Baen. 2000

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 28 June 2005

It's war on the Shareholder colony world of Harmony And Reason, recently invaded by millions of the hive-mind Magh'. Things are going badly for the humans. Fortunately, help is at hand, in the shape of the spiney Korozhet, whose soft-cyber implants have helped the humans uplift bats and rats to be intelligent soldiers. Or rather, intelligent cannon fodder, as the elite shareholders are uniquely incompetent in fighting a war. Chip Connolly, human vat-grown one-time apprentice chef and now conscript soldier, along with a squad of bats and rats with attitude, find themselves trapped behind enemy lines. Whilst attempting to escape, they stumble across captive shareholder Virginia Shaw, and her Korozhet tutor. After rescuing them, things go steadily from bad to worse, until the squad find themselves taking on the whole Magh' hive...

A fun "war from the perspective of the grunts" tale -- with all the crude humour, caricatured officers, and mud, guts, and violence, that that entails. But there is great characterisation of the various uplifted species, and of the aliens. The identity of the bad guy is apparent very early, but the battles are fun and imaginative, and the tension and humour kept at a high level. Good rollicking fun, with occasional dark patches.