Reviews: The Salvation War
Some parts are good, others are not.
The book focuses on humans fighting both heaven and hell with conventional, or unconventional firearms. But even though it is beautifully awesome at depicting the human military. The demonic, and heavenly militants aren't depicted with biblical accuracy in mind. Demons in the bible are either described as creatures that are impossible, or as spirits. So a biblical version of the battle would involve possession, misinformation, and killing off witnesses via assassination. A far cry from the glorious battle, and stampeding hellbeasts depicted in the text. And even if this is a general interpretation of the demons, It is has a more literal interpretation of god. More specifically, christianic god. Admittedly, I am biased in my perspective, because I am a christian. and even though he uses names of various christianic angels, no one really acts like they would if it were according to the bible. In the bible, angels are terrifying to the point of "kill it on sight", or "cower in fear" being regular reactions to seeing these things. And biblically demons are basically angels with a bad motive. Yet somehow they have different powers, angels look beautiful, and demons are red horned testosterone powered berzerkers. If you're an atheist, then it might be a good read due to the military tactics, the "because we can" moments of total ordnance based destruction, and scientific perspective of explaining how these insane powers are gained by demons. But don't take the demons, or angels as accurate.
Okay, I will give credit were credit is due. Probably the author is one of the most knowledge military hardware/tactics writers in the net and while the work is not great, it's really not that boring, for it keep my attention until the end of the second book. But when you think about it, it's honestly unrealistic. Just like the ending of Independence Day, it's U.S.A who not only created the technology to attack Hell, it's presidents talked and outwitted with the queen of succubus and the order to kill Satan, killed Uriel, assaulted heaven and dropped the nuclear bomb, captured Michael and 90% of all the leaders, great discoveries, tragedies, allies and point of views (even new Rome is modeled under american standards thanks that her new ally/lover is an american soldiers)is done or extremely influenced by americans. Sure, he describe other countries and their output, but they are always second fiddle to Americans and act as a support and background instead of the actual powerful countries in their own right like in real life. When you create and give the same role to the U.S army as a Transformers movie, you can't call it international. But that's not what breaks the "This is reality" thematic. It's his use of sociology and psychology with the demons in hell. For over 2000 as to 8000 years, billions of humans had been tortured. Satan had Adam in a small cage and even followers of other Gods and cultures (Spartan and Japanese) ended being brutally violated for eons. And then he paints that after the war most devils are now under the morals of the greatest democracy of the world, that people feel bad after the attack because that's how we act,and now we must accept and help this poor victims of the circumstances. Go to the congo and say to the thousands of woman that had been brutally mutilated that they now must forgive. See Afghanistan and how much the war had changed for the better the life of it's people. Or ask that the slavers in the child pornography ring and organ traffickers be forgiven because it was the environment that make them that way. And He stated in Two? years they had quelled the resentment, avoid revolutions or armed attacks against devils by the millions or other countries and educated them into our morals to the level of a recent arrived immigrant to create a new society. Seriously?
The notion that the human race has grown more powerful than its gods is an interesting theme. I wish that Slade had chosen to explore that instead of churning out a badly written piece of masturbatory warporn. Armageddon is poorly written from a technical perspective. Slade utterly fails to inject any sense of drama in his story or build up any tension (that is partly attributable to the premise). Furthermore, the characters are flat and fail to be anything other than devices to convey the plot. Add in shoddy dialogue that fails to distinguish the characters and the problem becomes clear: the author’s grasp of the craft of fiction is comparable to that of a marginally talented fanfic writer. I occasionally see the “documentary” defense in response to criticism about the failures of basic craft. This doesn’t hold water; the foremost concern of a work of fiction is to be interesting and compelling. Realistic technoporn and diamond-hard science are gimmicks, and do not make up for bad writing. While there are clearly people who enjoyed Armageddon as written, it is quite likely that people who would have enjoyed the story’s technical accuracy and action were turned off by the poor craftsmanship. The “Fuck God Dead!” theme has been done numerous times, and I feel confident saying that Armageddon is not an exemplar of the genre. The premise that God is evil and colluding with Satan is not masturbatory. The premise that the legions of hell would get steamrollered by modern warfighting technology and tactics is not masturbatory. I have little doubt that a bronze age army, no matter how massive in scale, would get massacred by modern forces. What I find masturbatory is that Slade felt it appropriate to take these premises turn them into a novel of epic proportions. There is perhaps enough material here for a novella; if the story had ended with the defeat of the initial demonic incursions the premises might have worked. As is, anyone not interested in miltech porn or a cack-handed treatment of religion gets to slog through a book where it is clear from the beginning that the protagonists will win handily. While we could infer their victory from our meta-knowledge of literature, a decent piece of writing allows the reader to suspend that knowledge and ride along with the heroes’ struggles and imagine that they might fail or suffer for their victory.
Excellent, For What It Is
But what is The Salvation War? Quite simply, it's a first draft of an exploration of the ramifications on society, both human and otherwise, should a literal interpretation of the conflicts of the Biblical end times take place. Plus, a periodic burst of win and epic. TSW isn't really built like a conventional story. It's one part war documentary, one part narrative, and one part theological and technological essay. Throw in some nuclear warfare, technical weapons descriptions, dark humor, pop-culture references, a healthy dose of religious skepticism, and the occasional bitchin' guitar solo, and you get The Salvation War: a story of war between technology and religion that makes absolutely no apologies for the concepts that it either raises or skewers. If you're looking for a true dramatic narrative, you're looking in the wrong direction. TSW deliberately and extensively defenstrates quite a few dramatic conventions. Beyond the initial shock of humanity finding itself at war with Heaven and Hell, the question of whether or not humanity will win the war is never in doubt. There's no climactic final battle in Armageddon, and while there is one in Pantheocide, it isn't to decide the outcome of the war, but rather to decide how much damage gets inflicted on the losers. Rather, the drama of the series comes from the interactions and reactions of Earth, Heaven, and Hell as old power structures, dogmatic beliefs, and ancient religions get overturned quite violently, along with humanity struggling to adapt to the new cosmology. That's not to say that the story is without its flaws. One of the predominant ones is the relatively poor quality of the writing in some parts, along with characters that often seem to be delivering lectures rather than having conversations. This is excusable, however, mostly because we're looking at a first draft that has never been properly edited. Some of the author's biases creep into the story as well. Ultimately, TSW requires a specific taste. One looking for drama will likely be disappointed, but one looking for an exploration of the ramifications of the scenario presented, along with occasional blast of pure freaking awesome, will not be disappointed.
Documentaries are hard to show when you can only tell.
Documentaries "document" a true event. While it is easy to do this with images and sound, it is far harder to just write it out; you have to write a novel without writing a novel. The author did a very good job constructing the plot. I can seriously tell this guy is an expert at extrapolating emerging technologies in a hypothetical war scenario while taming myth with science. However, since the only thing that can be reliably documented in writing is dialogue, and with the bulk of the plot being conveyed through dialogue, I am left with a lot of sensory deprivation on what the characters are like, what they even look like, and how they may feel (body language speaks volumes). The consistently straightforward narration style muddles any attempt at making the many characters of the story stand out; they all seem very flat. I know who George W. Bush is, but I want to know WHO George W. Bush is. I want to know how he changes, how similar or different he is from OUR George W. Bush. I have negative reading on visualization. Documentaries also tell stories. Not in a traditional 3 part sense with drama and tension, but they are still a form of storytelling using sight, sounds, language, and editing to put it into a coherent product. Raw information is unpalatable no matter how pure it is. You can't rely on the audience being "in the know" with the security clearance the author has. This book reads less like a documented story and more like a briefing about a series of events. The sensory deprivation has to be compensated with whatever is available. My verdict: as a documentary, Armageddon??? is technically very good. Just look at the way he describes battle! But as a story, it leaves a lot to be desired. If I may make a suggestion to the Author, it would be to concentrate on the dialogue with the same attention and detail you give to battle scenes. Specialize the syntax of each character's speech pattern. Diversify the styles of narration when switching between scenes. War room talk =/= bar chatter. "Acceleration" sounds and looks faster and more fuel efficient than "beating your wings as hard as you can". Give me dialects and accents and speech impediments! Get clever with the content of the dialogue and wording, and it will make for far more engrossing documentation.
It would not be a surprise to say that I did enjoy the series, and indeed I find them entertaining. Still, I find them unsatisfatory on many levels, and the author wasted a lot of potential. My favourite aspect was the exploration of both angels and demons, and I would love if the author explored the Aesir, the Olympians and etc. That said, I do think having angels and demons as part of the same species as a bit squicky, but I suppose it makes more sense theologically.