Robert Buettner’s Orphan Series

I’ve been promising to do more posts on Godless Sodomite Fiction and thus far failed to deliver much. Well I’m going to help correct that slightly right here and right now. For those of you whom like military science fiction I present you with a great series written by Robert Buettner called the Orphan or Jason Wander series (Yeah it doesn’t really have a series title like The Lost Fleet or Vampire Earth series. Also note that the link isn’t a referral link.). For the purposes of this post I’m going to call it the Orphan series to make life easy on me.

Buettnet’s Orphan series consists of five books: Orphanage, Orphan’s Destiny, Orphan’s Journey, Orphan’s Alliance, and Orphan’s Triumph. The entire series follows the life of Jason Wander who starts as a new military recruit in book one and ends up retired at the end of the series.

I’m not going to go through each book, that’s up to you if you decide to read the series. But I do have to go through Orphanage to establish a groundwork upon which to write about the series. Although there are going to be slight spoilers they will consist of nothing more that can be obtained by reading the back of the book’s cover.

Anyways Orphanage is a tribute to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. The stories are very similar and that’s by plan not a lack of originality. An alien species had parked its butt Ganymede and decided to start throwing really large rocks at Earth. The rocks are guided and the alien race has the ability to render our nuclear weapons inert. Needless to say Terra gets pummeled pretty hard. Enter Jason Wander, a kid with no real outlook on life. As is typical in a book an event happens that changes his life (Because that’s what makes a book interesting and worth reading). See Jason is a fuck up and keeps appearing before a specific judge. The judge gets sick of seeing Jason’s ugly face and finally gives him a choice, join the military or go to prison. Jason chooses the first option and enlists in the army.

Meanwhile the aliens keep hating on Earth. Eventually Jason’s family is killed leaving him an orphan (Clever huh? I bet you didn’t see that coming when you read the name of the series.). Shit happens and eventually he finds himself recruited for a mission that is heading to Ganymede to fuck the alien’s collective shit up. The mission consists only of soldiers who are war orphans and hence are felt to be the most pissed off and therefore qualified to kill alien scum.

That’s the premise of the first book. Needless to say Buettner’s tribute to Starship Troopers is beautifully executed and he adds enough of his own ideas and story elements to make Orphanage a great book that doesn’t feel too much like it’s idol. In the next four books the story comes into it’s own.

One of my pet peeves in books is poor pacing. I’m not a fan of boring parts in books and very often stop reading a story for quite some time because I hit a lull. Buettner shows an amazing skill for proper pacing. The end of each chapter leaves something interesting to be unlocked in the next one. I always found it hard to put these books down because the answer to something I was dying to know seemed to lay on the next few pages. When I obtained me answer an new puzzle would present itself and I found myself having to read more yet. Putting down these books and going to sleep required an act of extreme will.

Buettner also does an excellent job on character development. Too many series end up having characters stagnate in later volumes. The Orphan series seems to always manage to further embellish characters without making it appear over the top. Jason goes from being a worthless punk kid to a grown man capable of accomplish his work. Other characters are given equal amounts of attention as well. It’s rare for me to have strong memories of side characters but I can rattle off the names and general situations involving almost all of the major side characters in this series.

Of course being a science fiction godless sodomite fiction series there are plenty of gadgets and gizmos. The practicality of the advanced technology mentions written by Buettner impress me. The soldiers in the series wear powered armor called Eternads. The armors contain water purifiers, water storage systems, air conditioners, heaters, oxygen generators, and even a pad on one arm for wiping snot from your nose. All of these features of powered by a battery that recharges itself via the movements of the person wearing the Eternad. Because of the nature of the aliens being fought the guns later in the series fire flechette ammunition.

Being this is a military science fiction series geopolitical politics comes into play. Many events from Jason’s career are brought to light including those involving being a military “consultant” for other countries. This is more important of an event at the series progresses but I can’t really expand on it without giving away plot points and spoiling some of the series.

I really like Buettner’s portrayal of soldiers. He’s very Heinleinesqe in that he has a positive portrayal of the foot soldier. It’s a nice change in pace from many stories that portray soldiers as wanton killing machines with the IQ of a wild boar. I do appreciate this aspect of the series.

Anyways the series is a great way to spend some quality time reading. I urge you to take a look at the first book if you’re into science fiction of any kind.