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Expanded from a short story of David Weber that first appeared in George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois's anthology Warriors (2010), Out of the Dark, released the same year, is a novel known for its unusual take on military science fiction.
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In the very near future, Earth has been targeted for colonization by a galactic empire known as the Hegemony. Deemed "lunatic local sentients" by a survey team that witnessed King Henry V and his troops slaughtering the French at Agincourt, humankind has essentially been written off as bloodthirsty, backwater barbarians that no one will particularly miss. It's The End of the World as We Know It. Technologically superior, carnivorous, canine-analog aliens have invaded Earth with the intention of killing most of us and enslaving the rest. Things don't go according to plan.

If you don't want to spoil the ending, don't scroll down to the Index list at the bottom of this page, or even glance at the review page. The sequel, called Into the Light, was released on January 12th, 2021, after more than a decade in Development Hell.

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Tropes in this work:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Shongairi mortars use a wide range of ammunition types, which include two different High Explosive rounds, incendiary rounds, smoke rounds, and one that releases some kind of fast-acting neurotoxin.
  • Accidentally Correct Writing: In-Universe example. In the second novel, Vlad explains that the one movie to get close to getting his origins is Dracula Untold. While he doesn't look nearly as attractive as Luke Evans, the real Vlad and his surviving men did happen upon some cave in the mountains, although they did not meet a monster there. They found a chamber filled with light. Then Vlad lost consciousness. When he woke up, he found nothing of his men but their empty clothes, while he himself was transformed.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Ground Base Commander Shairez. She may be responsible for kidnapping humans to develop a plague to wipe us all out, but through most of the book she's shown as an intelligent, curious, hard working, and capable aide who is one of the more likable enemies and often serves to draw out the Admiral's softer side. In the end, she's tortured for info for several hours by someone who knows a thing or two about torture.
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    • It's possible to feel some pity for Thikair in the middle of his Villainous Breakdown at the very end when, afterr already being worn down and speculating he'd be made to commit suicide, he's left facing a Cruel and Unusual Death he's confronted with the fact that His entire command is being wiped out, and that his entire clan, and entire species will likely follow soon as a direct result of his actions.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The Shongari hope to harvest Earth's scientists and recourses to give them the power to move against the rest of the Hegemony.
    • Averted with Colonel Sanders, who desperately wants to get promoted to general, but only to put a stop to the jokes about his name.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: The Shongairi vehicle operators are very grateful for Human made roads after the prehistory planets they've gone to before.
  • Alien Invasion: The whole plot of the book. I mean, just look at the summary.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Shongairi and the Hegemony are condescending about those they see as lesser species and have no compunctions about exploiting them or being complicit to genocide.
  • Aliens Never Invented the Wheel: Most galactic civilizations tend to be unified under a single government long before they become space-capable, and tend to focus their military development on spacepower once they get to orbit. However, humans are still fractious even at the level of having an orbital satellite network, and though human technology is necessarily cruder than spacefaring alien tech, in areas of ground and atmospheric combat it is necessarily advanced. Other species simply never had the need for things like heavy armored vehicles or fighter aircraft when such things were easily dispatched with Orbital Bombardment.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Most high ranking Shongairi personnel seem to be able to speak some Human languages such as English thanks to "belt translators", though they do have their own language.
  • Alternative Calendar: Various chapters provide the date in both the Gregorian and the galactic standard calendar. The epilogue introduces a third calendar, replacing the Hegemony's calendar with the notation "Year 1 of the Terran Empire".
  • Alternative Number System: The Shongairi appear to count in base-twelve.
  • And This Is for...: When Mircea finally lets Buchevsky have his revenge by executing Thikair, he states that this is for his daughters, who were killed in the pre invasion orbital strikes.
  • Apocalypse How: The Shongairi start off with a plan to only go up to a Class 2 and enslave the survivors but switches to a Class 3a when the invasions forces are getting chewed up on the ground. The second novel expands on the aftermath, with isolated pockets of survivors all across the world desperately trying to survive, with the winter coming and little food, shelter, or medicine available, while warlords and criminals use the opportunity to establish their own fiefdoms. The largest stable governments are North Carolina, Saskatchewan, and one of Brazilian states.
  • Armor Is Useless: Shongairi troop and vehicle armor is great against primitives with sticks and crossbows. Not so much against combat rifles, tanks, and rocket launchers.
  • Artificial Gravity: Inverted. While the Hegemony races possess countergrav generators that allow their vehicles to hover, their starships still use rotating sections to generate pseudogravity. When human engineers get their hands on Shongairi countergrav generator specs, they are surprised to discover governors that prevent the generators from being used to generate positive gravity either by accident or intentionally.
  • Artistic License – Geography: In the second book, people keep referring to Mexico as a South American country. Except one look at a map will place it firmly in North America. Why they simply didn't call it Latin American is anybody's guess.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: It's a bone-deep part of Shongairi psychology, and (at first) they view humanity's "never say die" mentality as consciously dishonorable; when they realize it's innate to our species, they decide we're clinically insane.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Shongairi hover tanks have no belly armor, leaving it defenseless against anti-tank mines and IEDs.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: When the alien invaders are about to make the human race extinct, someone on Earth finally decides to come out of his self-imposed exile and show them what real monsters can do.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: M3A3 Bradleys assist the Abrams tanks in Afghanistan in taking down Shongairi armored columns.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Lieutenant Colonel Alastair Sanders gives one to his troops in Chapter XV (6).
      Lieutenant Colonel Alastair Sanders: All right, people. Let’s get back to our units. But first let me just say I’m proud, damned proud, of all of you and all your people. I always have been, but never more than I am right this minute. I know how every one of you has to be worrying about what’s been going on back home. I’ve been worrying about it, too. But for right now, it’s time for us to go on doing our jobs as well as all of you and all of them always have before. As far as we know, we’re all the United States has left. I hope and pray that’s not the case, but if it is, then we are by God going to give these murderous bastards the frigging boot, and I want our toes so far up their asses the only thing they can taste is made-in-the-U.S.-of-A. shoe leather! I want them to frigging choke on it!
    • Sharon Dvorak in Chapter XXX (30) explains to her husband Dave that she will die defending the kids before any of the "floppy eared bastards" come anywhere close to them.
      Sharon Dvorak: If those long-eared freaks ever get this close, my kids — our kids — are going to be hiding inside that cave, scared out of their minds. Those kids are our lives, Dave. They're our future. Hell, they're our hearts and souls, and you damned well know it! And if anything happens to you, I'll see you in their faces, hear the echo of you in their voices. Nothing is going to take that away from me. Nothing on God’s green earth — and I don't care how it got here! — is getting past me to hurt those kids! Don't you worry about what I'm ready for, David Dvorak. Not when our kids are involved!
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. By the begining of Chapter XXVII (29), Thikair notes that Ground Base Commander Shairez appears to have "aged" thanks to the ongoing conflict with the Humans.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: Discussed. Both the hostile Shongairi and the humans fighting them both realize that a benevolent invasion would have been a lot more effective than the regular Alien Invasion that triggered the violent, stubborn human resistance that is turning the aliens' occupation into a bloody slog.
  • BFG: Everything from sweet, sweet Barrett .50 cal rifles to Bushmaster chainguns.
  • Big Blackout: Averted — for a while. Despite the elimination of major cities, power and internet stay up for a good while before the Shongairi specifically take them out.
  • Big Damn Hero: Ukrainian soldier Pieter Ushaklov saves a young girl and her infant brother, who almost got caught in Shongairi motor fire.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end of the book, Humanity has all it needs to strike back at the Shongairi homeworlds and the Hegemony, and to rebuild Earth but at the cost of three billion human lives thanks to the pre-landing orbital strikes and an unknown amount lost during the fighting on Earth.
  • Bizarre Alien Sexes: Sarthians have three sexes: male female, and neutro. Male and female impregnate the neutro with their gametes, which merge to form a zygote in the neutro's body. Unlike the largely male-dominated human societies, the child-bearing neutros tend to be higher on the social and political hierarchy of Sarth, probably since they tend to act as peacekeepers between the more aggressive and emotional males and females. Many national leaders are neutros. There is almost no sexual dimorphism between males and females, except for their plumage coloring and patterns, while neutros tend to be a little smaller and also have a unique plumage pattern. Sarthian families also consist of three partners.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: For the Shongairi, refusing to submit to an obvious superior, especially after that superior has demonstrated unquestioned strength, is horrific. They also don't see why humans get pissed when Shongairi eat the corpses of those they killed, including children; to the Shongairi, eating the corpses is the only way to honor them and not let the soul go to waste. Humanity's refusal to back down and fight viciously out of a need to protect their families or to seek vengeance for the deaths of loved ones is utterly alien to the Shongairi.
  • Body Language: After arriving to the orbit of Sarth and studying the natives with their spy drones (modified from Shongairi drones to be even stealthier), the human emissaries study the natives' body language and learn that their nonverbal cues for "yes" and "no" are the exact opposite of those common on Earth (i.e. they shake their heads to indicate an affirmative and nod to indicate a negative). After first contact, Sarthians note that humans tend to often start nodding, only to then shake their heads, as if catching themselves.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • You don't need a military grade BFG to kill Shongairi troops, even hunting and recreational firearms work well against them.
    • When Dave Dvorak gets a good look at the standard Shongairi rifle, he is somewhat confused as to why they aren't using their equivalent of an Eotech sight instead of iron sights. Dave then remembers that Humans have been killing each just fine for centuries with good old fashioned sights.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: In the second book, one of the scientists is obsessed with adapting the Shongairi neural educators into this. He sees multiple benefits to being able to control equipment with but a thought. His bosses eventually transfer to him to other projects, although he tries one last experiment and ends up frying his brain. Which is fine, since he also accidentally uploaded himself into his computer.
  • Break the Haughty: The Shongairi slowly start to lose morale as they realize that the backwater spear swinging primitives are anything but.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Weapons stockpiles in Romania contained surplus Soviet weapons dating from as far back as World War II and are used by the resistance forces in the region.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: The Shongairi eventually start knocking out Human satellites in orbit. Assuming this means the space stations such as the ISS are among them.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Shongairi equivalent to rabbits are known as "garishes".
  • Canada, Eh?: In the second book, Canada is revealed to be one of the nations to suffer least in the Western Hemisphere, alongside US and Brazil. With Saskatchewan surviving relatively unscathed, it becomes the new seat of government. Canada is the first to accept President Howell's offer of forming the Continental Union.
  • The Cartel: With Mexico City a smoking crater and the federal government in shambles, the drug cartels have taken the opportunity to carve out their own little fiefdoms over what used to be Mexico. Since the US needs a strong ally in the south, they have been sending squads of vampires to take out the cartel leadership in order to re-establish the legitimate government of Mexico.
  • Cassandra Truth: After driving away the Shongairi, the government of North Carolina sends out a broadcast telling the rest of humanity of what happened, including how it was accomplished. No one believes the latter part, of course. After all, who's going to believe something as ridiculous as vampires?
  • Casual Danger Dialog: An F-22 Raptor pilot takes time to criticize the F-35 while shooting down alien dropships.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Of course, if there hadn't actually been an Alien Invasion, it just would have been... crazy. On the Hegemony side, all the tech has dozens of layers of redundancy, since it's designed to work for centuries without fail. This means that a countergrav generator could potentially be 80% smaller than what it is now, if they were willing to go down to the expected equipment lifetime of only 80 years or so.
  • Crazy Survivalist: It's all justified (Alien Invasion, remember), but the menfolk of the mountain cabin have clear plans to put lots of half-inch holes in anyone who might threaten their little commune.
  • Clarke's Third Law: Brigade Commander Harshair briefly reminisces that the savages from their earlier colonization campaigns were convinced that the Shongairi troops were wizards who could see in pitch black darkness thanks to their night vision tech.
  • Comically Missing the Point: It only becomes funny during the Shongairi invasion, but the take-away from the original hegemony survey of Earth counts as this. The Barthoni team took away that humans are barbarians from watching a battle from the hundred years war when they should have learned that, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, humans will try to find creative solutions to problems before giving up. From the way the invasion was conducted, that simply never occurred to anyone even though everyone had access to the same data.
  • Cool Plane: Several F-22 Raptors shoot down Shongairi drop ships in American territory. During the assault, one of the pilots even bashes another cool plane, the F-35 Lightning II, as he shoots the ships up.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: At the end, the book is essentially about Wolf Man aliens with orbital bombardments vs. various modern armies and fucking Dracula!
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: The humans point out that the entire war could have been avoided if the Shongairi hadn't announced their presence with orbital bombardment and instead simply showed up to offer humans "carrots" i.e. gifts of advanced technology. The Shongairi eventually realize it too, but far too late.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The Shongairi are prepared for two kinds of combat — kicking the crap out of primitives & space warfare. They are shocked to realize that humanity is far, far more advanced at warfare inside a gravity well; their tech could have done everything we did better, but they just never needed to.
  • Crusading Widower: Most of the main male characters lose their entire family in the invasion.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The Shongairi preemptive cyber attack that completely destroys all human cyber security in mere minutes including the security of the Pentagon and CIA databases. It's even referred to as a "fucking cyber massacre". The second book reveals that they have quantum computers, explaining why it was so easy for them to break our encryption.
    • Then when the Shongairi make their first attempt at landfall, they are destroyed by eight F-22 Raptors attacking unopposed due to the aliens having no doctrine or equipment for aerial combat.
    • Of course now, they are now dealing with human guerrillas and soldiers that refuse to surrender that curbstomp the alien's ground forces repeatedly as they're unused to an enemy that won't quit once their cities have been flattened from orbit.
  • Deadly Gas: Shongairi mortars are able to fire a round the releases a fast acting neurotoxin.
  • Death from Above: Humans have their aircraft while the Shongairi have Kinetic Weapons.
  • Death of a Child: In one particular scene in Chapter XVIII (19).
  • Deconstructed Trope: The story deconstructs Humans Are Warriors and Humans Advance Swiftly. The Hegemony witnessed the English slaughtering the French at Agincourt and see how fast human tech is progressing compared to "civilized" races and are scared to hell. So they tell their enforcer race that everyone will turn a blind eye if an accident were to happen to us...
  • Determinator: Mankind as a whole to the Shongairi; it turns out that while humans do possess a submission mechanism, it is subordinated to our instinct to protect family. It's also pointed out that "family", in this case, can include up to entire countries. Then Dracula extends it to humanity itself, at great cost to the invaders. And, implicitly, the Hegemony and its allies.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The Shongairi open up with a bombardment that kills about half of the world's population, and note that starvation and disease will kill many of the survivors. When resistance continues that severely threatens their ability to maintain control, they plan to instead just wash the whole thing by releasing a bioweapon and wiping out all the survivors.
  • Deus ex Machina: Throughout the story, the Shongairi invaders consistently lose ground battles to humans but pulverize the entire area from orbit afterwards. Towards the end they learn enough human tactics to capture a rebel village without resorting to orbital bombardment and develop a bioweapon to destroy what's left of humanity (clearly unaware that we happen to be extremely well versed in biological warfare). But just as they're about to deploy the virus the leader of the village they captured to experiment on turns out to be freakin' Dracula and he and a handful of newly-spawned vampires single-handedly wipe out the entire invasion force. Hints that Dracula was present were scattered throughout the book, but were relatively subtle, and the reader is expecting a hard sci-fi war novel, and not fantasy elements to creep in and sucker punch them.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Up until the TwistEnding, it's basically Worldwar in the twenty-first century, with the political and technological issues adjusted accordingly.
  • Disaster Scavengers: Alluded to and prepared against, but not actually seen. Humanity holds together pretty well rather than turning on each other for the most part. There are some mentions made of characters being attacked by other, desperate scavengers, and a couple of groups of National Guardsmen attempt to become local warlords and meet suitably bad ends. Then again, the plot doesn't last until winter, when people will get desperate, though what may happen then is discussed.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Shongairi retaliate for a group of tanks wiping out one of their ground convoys with an orbital kinetic strike that not only destroys the human tanks but also the nearby city.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Fleet Commander Thikair hijacks Humanity's TV and Internet to demand Earth's surrender after the kinetic bombardment.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Around halfway through the novel, most Humans decide that if they can't beat their orbital firepower, then they will kill as many as they can on the ground.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Vampires turn out to be more like Stargate's Replicators. Their bodies are composed of advanced nanobots that make them invulnerable to most things and allow them to "disassociate" into gas form that can levitate. It's also why they don't require any sustenance beyond electromagnetic radiation. The scientists studying them state that this is way beyond what the Shongairi have and may also be beyond what the Hegemony has.
  • The Dreaded Dreadnought: Shongairi dreadnoughts are powerful warships, capable of bombarding the surface of a planet with projectiles. They're also armed with missiles and lasers, although the latter are mainly used for close-range engagements and to shoot down missiles. Human-designed dreadnoughts in the second novel are significantly larger and more powerful.
  • Drop Ship: The first ones sent to Earth were destroyed by USAF F-22 Raptors and a French antiaircraft battery took out three more. They're stated to be the size of missile cruisers but are utterly lacking in anything that would protect them in case of an attack. Even their radar is incapable of picking up human stealth fighters or detecting a missile lock. Apparently, they have antigravity drives, but tend to use the boring old aerodynamic wings, as antigravity is too power-hungry.
  • Eagleland: Type 1. America is awesome, and the aliens recognize the US as one of their biggest threats.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Thikair eventually just decides to blast Earth to asteroids. Later, Vlad threatens to do this to the Shongairi worlds in turn using dreadnought weapons.
  • The Empire:
    • The Shongairi Empire.
    • Year one of the Terran (aka Human) Empire begins after the defeat of the Shongairi.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Humanity is so screwed. Until Dracula decides it's the Shongairi's turn.
  • Enemy Mine: An American Major and a Muslim extremist working hand in hand, with little rancor.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Subverted. The Shongairi war technology is drastically inferior to Human tech. The real problem is their orbital firepower.
  • Energy Weapon: The Shongairi "tank's" main armament is a laser emitter rather than say a 120mm cannon. These are very powerful and can tear through our armor easily, but is weakened by Earth's atmosphere and can't go through depleted uranium-augmented Chobham armor, but it can go through Ferdinand armor.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: Discussed. When the Shongairi arrive at modern day Earth, they are confused as to how we have advanced so fast, they speculate that perhaps that one of their recon drones crashed and gave the Humans a head start on the technological game.
  • Everything Is Online:
    • We youtubed shooting down alien dropships!
    • Fleet Commander Thikair broadcasted to all of Humanity online to announce the invasion.
    • Also one of the primary advantages of humanity, allowing us to coordinate strikes and keep up morale.
  • Expanded States of America: In the second book, following the Divided States of America, the state government of North Carolina consolidates power in the surviving enclaves in the US under Governor Judson Howell. Since the entire presidential line of succession is gone, Howell is appointed the new president. The trope is zigzagged, though, as Howell's plan is to create a new supranational governing body, first over the Americas, and then across the entire world. Being American himself, he wants the new Continental Union of the Americas to be a federal government like the US, with individual countries retaining their autonomy where it doesn't interfere with the established CU constitution and the laws passed by the CU congress. The congress is to be bicameral, mirroring the US Congress, except senators will be appointed by the countries' legislatures instead of elected by the people (the way it was for the US originally). There will be an Electoral College to ensure that countries with the larger populations don't dominate presidential elections. While the US isn't going anywhere, it will now be a part of this supranational body, equal to any other. The first member nations are the US, Canada, and Brazil (the latter is necessary to convince the rest of the world that this isn't going to be dominated by English-speaking nations). In the second part of the book, set 15 years later, it's mentioned that the Continental Union only existed for 5 years until the first nations from other continents began to join, at which point it was reformed into the Planetary Union of Earth.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: The Earth delegation to Sarth wants an opinion on a discussion between one of their own diplomatic attaches and Myrcal, the Qwernian Foreign Minister, from a native Sarthian. It is there that they discover that the Qwernian word for "councilor", which the humans have been using as a title for their junior diplomatic attaches, also means "deputy". Myrcal has been under the assumption that Arthur Mc Cabe, a junior member of the delegation, is their Ambassador's immediate subordinate, due to this mistranslation. And the members of the Earth delegation begin to wonder what else Myrcal has incorrectly assumed about the humans, and how that might be shaping Qwernian foreign policy...
  • Explosive Breeder: Humans, compared to most other races at this stage of development. The Shongairi are shocked to discover that Earth is home to 7 billion people, whereas the next closest example is only half a billion.
  • Eye Scream: Squad Commander Gunshail is killed by a .308 Winchester round to the left eye.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Human militaries outmatch the Shongairi, but cannot defeat them thanks to the Kinetic weapons on the Shongairi's side.
  • False Flag Operation: The aliens use Iran as a cover when hacking world military installations right before the invasion.
  • Fantastic Racism: Within the Hegemony, between carnivores and herbivores/omnivores. The Shongairi have nothing but contempt for humanity as well, at least at first. The revelation of the vampires makes a lot of mankind...uncomfortable.
  • Fantastic Ship Prefix: The Planetary Union Navy uses PUNS for its spaceships, which presumably stands for "Planetary Union Navy Ship".
  • Fantastic Slurs: The Shongairi use "weed-eater" as an epithet for the members of the Hegemony and Humanity calls the Shongairi "puppies."
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Hegemony has phase drives that allow them to travel several times the speed of light. This requires the use of Sleeper Starships in order to get anywhere meaningful, since trips routinely take decades or even centuries. In the second novel, human scientists have managed to improve on the tech and increase the speed by 50%.
  • First Contact: Humanity's first contact with alien life is the Shongairi launching kinetic energy weapons and wiping out half of the world's population, including most major cities, military bases, and naval vessels. Only later do the Shongairi announce themselves to the survivors and demand surrender. A more proper first contact happens in the second book, when the PUNS Outlook reaches Sarth orbiting 61 Cygni A (roughly 11.4 light years from Earth). After a period of covert observation, Dave Dvorak sends out a radio broadcast across the planet announcing humanity's arrival and offering to meet all the world leaders (or their representatives) at a UN-like building the Sarthians call the Nonagon.
  • Fridge Logic: The aliens think humanity deserves to be mass-murdered and enslaved or just outright exterminated because humans fight each other (even if the fighting was tiny compared to the species size) and the only reason we have militaries to resist theirs is due to our in-fighting. So...what does that say about the aliens since they have militaries, too?
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Vlad is trying to be one of these, but the Shongairi are pushing him. He deliberately makes Stephen a vampire in order to be one of these and his Morality Pet.
  • Galactic Conqueror: The Shongairi had already conquered two planets before arriving on Earth.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Dave Dvorak, after taking a round to the shoulder, is forced to sit on the sidelines and take care of intel.
  • Genocide Backfire: The Shongairi invaded Earth, wiped out half the population, and eventually tried to kill the rest. Then we jacked their neural educators and industrial ships, and noted that their extremely slow FTL means mankind has centuries before anyone even realizes they haven't reported in. The novel ends with mankind prepping to turn the warships and weaponry back toward the Hegemony that condemned them in the first place.
  • Genre Shift: The genre shift doesn't take place near the end, resulting in a cry of Twist Ending or Deus ex Machina. The issue is though the novel's expansion of the story is entirely before the events, resulting in 90% in the first genre of hard sci-fi alien invasion. The last 10% however involves Dracula.
  • Glass Cannon: Shongairi ground vehicles are very well armed, with lasers that punch through modern tank armor like paper and advanced and powerful mortars. However, their armor is only rated to fight crossbows and catapults, so human anti-armor weapons go through theirs like paper too. Subverted in that they are later revealed to have designs for better hardware, but it took them a while to get their production facilities up and running.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Thikar eventually concedes the use of genocidal bioweapons as the only option against a planet full of humans who refuse to submit, and are rapidly depleting the invader's reserves.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Thikar planned the Shonghairi invasion to take place immediately after an extensive covert intelligence gathering campaign, followed by the simultaneous kinetic bombardment of every major military base and government center on record. The idea was to cripple humanity's ability to fight back in a massive opening salvo with minimal infrastructural damage outside of that, forcing them to surrender. However, as the targets included the major administrative organizations that might negotiate surrender, no one was left to tell their forces and civilians to stand down, leading to partisan actions, reprisal strikes, more partisan actions, and a protracted quagmire for the Shonghairi.
    • There are some implications that parts of the Hegemony might have picked up from the scouting report that humans could be actually dangerous (and not just potentially dangerous if allowed to develop), and let the Shonghairi on Earth in the expectation that the Shonghairi might expend more resources than gained. They did, alright. To the point that the novel ends with the year noted as Year 1 of the Terran Empire.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: Averted. Old Soviet hardware is lovingly appreciated by the resistance in Romania.
  • Guns Akimbo: Rob Wilson does this out of desperation when Shongairi soldiers are closing in on him and an injured Dave. The concept is even deconstructed during the same scene.
    Over the years, Rob Wilson had instructed more Marines and cops than he could count in the proper use of handguns, and he’d always made a point of depressing the pretensions of any would-be two-gun pistoleros who crossed his path. That kind of fancy shit looked good in movies, he’d told them cuttingly. Of course, in that case both the writers and the director were on the side of the hero as he unerringly picked off individual targets with each hand while simultaneously hurling his body in a graceful, headfirst, slow-motion, midair roll of a leap through a solid hail of automatic fire. In real life, the hurlee would almost certainly end up shredded and dead, he’d pointed out. And even if the idiot survived—miracles did occasionally happen, after all, and he’d been told God sometimes took pity on lunatics, drunks, and fools—all he’d really achieve was to totally waste the ammunition from both of the guns in question. Even standing still he’d waste most of his shots because the human brain had this odd little quirk: it found it quite difficult to focus on two separate sight pictures simultaneously.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Shongairi technology is very carefully calibrated to be just advanced enough to avert a Curb-Stomp Battle—and permit humanity to show what determined and gallant warriors we are—while still ensuring the eventual outcome will not be in our favor, necessitating the Deus ex Machina in the Twist Ending. Also, due to a quirk of human psychology, we're the only species that has ever reached our current tech level without world peace and thus to invent things like modern stealth fighters. They're far higher tech but are just kitted out for the wrong war and could dominate us if they weren't. They still hold the top of the gravity well and have better bioweapons and cyber-warfare tech.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Human Tank battalions rely on such tactics due to having to get the hell out of Dodge before Shongairi Kinetic weapons get a lock on them.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard:
    • Neural education gives humanity what it needs to commandeer Shongairi capitol and construction ships and begin the Genocide Backfire.
    • The puppies fail to realize that wiping out all of Earth's capitols leaves no one to tell their military and civilians to stand down, not understanding that we wouldn't find it self-evident. The Shongairi also failed to realize that revealing their presence by bombing the hell out of mankind and demanding surrender without offering any sort of incentive to surrender (beyond "we'll bomb you more") was likely to result in a lot of mankind just getting pissed.
    • Leaving the internet in place to demand surrender lets humanity use it to rally and boost their morale, until the bad guys decide it's too much trouble.
    • Eventually starts happening to humans. The Shongairi, paying attention to human tactics, start to wise up and allow regimental commanders more flexibility in calling in air and orbital support. Eventually they start using human grenade and rocket launchers to supplement their infantry weapons. One even notes that when it's all over, the Shongairi will have learned a lot from humanity. He's right, but not entirely in the way he thinks.
      • Not quite an example, though, as humanity has counters to such things and counters to our tactics and strategies and counters to those. If anything, playing war our way just makes it easier for us to fight you.
  • Hope Spot: Senior Squad Commander Laifayr has when when Dave's .50 Cal Barret rifle stops firing since it is out of ammo.
  • Hopeless War: Though mankind fights tenaciously and wins small victories, it ultimately has no way of defending itself from an enemy that controls the orbitals. It's a hopeless for man, until the Twist Ending.
  • Hover Tank: The Shongairi tanks are able to hover, but this just leaves its unarmored bottom side exposed. Their ground transports are still wheeled, though, as hover tech is expensive.
  • Humanity on Trial: Offstage, but it does happen, and we're given the death penalty.
  • Humanity Is Insane: The puppies' horrified conclusion.
  • Humans Advance Swiftly: We've advanced three times faster than the fastest known race (which advanced twice as fast as the next best), and no one can figure out why such a warlike species hasn't blown itself up yet. The Shongairi actually intended to take advantage of this, putting humans to work in their R&D labs as well as using them as shock troops. Then we jack the Shongairi's neural educators, and the end of the novel implies we're getting prepped to eventually return the favor.
    • The second book expands on this and proposes several explanations for why that's the case. For one, the Hegemony is dominated by herbivore species, whose mindset was that technology should help protect them from predators instead of finding better ways to hunt prey. This means that after a certain point, there's really no need to advance at a breakneck pace. This mindset seems to propagate even to omnivores and carnivores in the Hegemony, since they're in the minority. Additionally, pretty much all races in the Hegemony have a Post-Scarcity Economy, limitless energy, and perfect health that allows the to live for centuries. All those factors result in them designing technology to last for a long time and viewing change in a negative light. As a consequence, they're not used to having to repair broken stuff as much as we are. And when things don't break, there's no need to innovate. Humans of the 21st century are used to the mentality of "next year's model will be better" and planned obsolescence. The Hegemony races have no such views. The galactic culture's advancement curve has plateaued around 150,000-100,000 years ago. In contrast, humanity's curve continues to rise. When engineers and scientists get their hands on some specs of Shongairi tech, they're shocked at how overengineered everything is (to the point of having a piece of equipment be 5 times larger than it has to be due to all the redundancy). The engineers' immediate reaction is to scale back on the redundancy to something that is still acceptable by human standards (but would be unforgivably risky to the aliens) to miniaturize the components. And some applications of tech are either absent (any form of AI) or are deliberately suppressed (artificial gravity on ships).
  • Humans Are Morons: The Shongairi are initially convinced of this, based on "idiotic tactics" from Agincourt, and a further convinced of it once they understand the current situation. For example, they believe that the refusal of First World powers to use nuclear or biological weapons against their enemies in the Middle East is idiotic (specifically citing the US' tolerance of Iran's actions) and the presence of a public information network like the Internet, allowing free, ready access to vast stores of information, is considered completely insane.
    • The whole reason the aliens want to kill us is because they believe we're mindlessly violent and would lash out uncontrolled against other species. The Shongairi are think we're stupid for not using weapons of mass destruction against the Middle Eastern populations to kill off the terrorists, regardless of the ecological damage and the countless innocents who would die horribly.
  • Humanity Is Insane: Humanity is the only race that doesn't have the instinct to surrender permanently when beaten by a superior force, since we're far more individual and family oriented than the pack and herd oriented aliens. Guerrilla warfare, passive resistance, and sabotage are utterly foreign to our would-be conquerors because a Shongairi confronted with an obvious superior will automatically submit; the notion of resisting against the "pack leader" in anything other than an obvious show of force intended to seize control of the pack is considered vile and dishonorable.
    • They will soon learn that humanity isn't likely to accept their surrender when we exterminate them right back. The Hegemony will then learn that we hold those who ordered our extermination as even more guilty than those who attempted to carry it out.
  • Humans Are Warriors: This novel has strong, pervasive themes of "HUMANITY, FUCK YEAH!"
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Generally, the alien perception of humanity is that we're insane or idiots.
  • Hypocrites: The Hegemony, who consider themselves peaceful enlightened folk and regret allowing the aggressive Shongairi into the fold as required by their laws, decide to sweep humanity under the rug (by literally throwing us to the wolves) rather than having to let us join someday. The Shongairi repeatedly lampshade this in contempt.
  • I Come in Peace: Dave Dvorak uses that in his greeting when making first contact with the Sarthians.
  • It's All My Fault: Stephan Buchevsky blames himself for the villagers he was protecting getting killed or captured. Mircea helps convince him that it isn't.
  • Improvised Weapon: From IEDs to homemade Claymore mines.
  • Insane Troll Logic: How Foreign Minister Myrcal of the Qwernian Empire acts in the last third of Into The Light. Ou is so fixated on victory over the Republic of Dianto that ou regularly makes rookie diplomatic blunders just to gain a perceived advantage. Some select actions include using choice passages from the Earth Ambassador's speech proclaiming that no Sarthian nation will get preferential treatment to suggest the Earth delegation is making a secret deal with Dianto, exposing several key intelligence assets for minimal returns, and plotting to hold human diplomats hostage to force the Earth delegation to submit to their demands based on rather flimsy evidence even ous immediate subordinates are questioning. Unfortunately, ou also manages to maneuver ouself into beoming the second-in-command of the Qwernian Empire, and serves as the primary antagonist of the latter part of the book.
  • Insufficiently Advanced Alien: Orbital bombardment is just about the only thing the Shongairi have going for them (though to be fair, Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is pretty effective). Their ground forces don't have any experience going up against anything more advanced than crossbows, and it really shows in their tactics and equipment. They do eventually start uparmoring their equipment and adjusting their tactics, and their actual heavy and support weapons are quite effective; the humans note that the puppies' mortars in particular are very deadly and have a wide variety of ammunition types.
  • Infodump: Several chapters are devoted solely to outline politics on Earth or within the Hegemony that led to the current situation. One chapter is mostly devoted to excessively detailing survivalist preparations, and there are some entirely irrelevant infodumps (e.g. the one regarding Iranian politics or several pages devoted to an F-22 pilot bashing the F-35 while in the middle of attacking alien landing ships).
  • Intelligent Gerbil: The two alien species described in the novel resemble dogs and cattle.
  • Invaded States of America: Shongairi forces eventually land in America and they get all sorts of hell from the US Military and Partisan fighters.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Happens off camera to some captured Shongairi Mooks and Ground Base Commander Shairez.
  • Just Following Orders: On the Shongairi side we have Ground Base Commander Shairez, who is often portrayed as the more likable Shongairi, whose only concern is to just follow her orders and get the job done along with not seem to having a severe hatred for the Humans.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Governor Howell, the Governor of North Carolina who acted as The Mole to the Shongairi and had all National Guardsmen and law enforcement covertly assist the rebel forces in his state. Because of his actions, which saved many lives, he seems to be well on his way to becoming President of the USA and the nation's capitol will be moved to Raleigh.
  • Kill All Humans: The Shongairi plan to kill most humans and enslave the rest turns into this thanks to one asskicking after another.
  • Kill Sat: The Shongairi use their kinetic weapons to try to pound Earth into submission.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better:
    • Dropping a Meteor of Doom is a cheap way to soften up a future colony. Plus, the Shongairi have effective energy weapons on their heavy assault vehicles but mostly rely on mediocre conventional firearms. Human firearms and artillery become the stuff of nightmares for them.
    • In the second novel, the humans decide to go with railguns instead of energy weapons, since railguns pack a lot more of a punch and are very good at penetrating armor. For tanks they particularly prefer discarding sabot rounds for better penetration. As for handheld rail weapons, they pretty much pulverize any flesh they encounter and can easily go through three or four people.
  • Last Stand:
    • All of Humanity is pulling this since they have no way to stop the Shongairi kinetic weapons.
    • Stephan Buchevsky and a small band of rebels pulls one so that the refugee village can evacuate.
  • La Résistance: Partisans operate all around the world, and prove to be a major thorn in the Shongairi's side.
  • Leave No Survivors:
    • When Shongairi soldiers attempt to surrender, Stephen Buchevsky again sees the children they have killed, he is reminded of his own killed daughters and has them all executed.
    • Eventually, the Shongairi just decide to kill all humans from orbit. Dracula ain't going to allow it.
    • In the second book, this is Vlad's intention for all the Shongairi in the galaxy. It takes Stephen decades to convince him to spare some of them. And that's just on their homeworld. Their colonies will be wiped out completely. Vlad's amended plan is to obliterate all their space assets, including off-world colonies in the system, and to bomb them back into the stone age, making sure to destroy any and all industry and about 2/3 of the population.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    • The poor Shongairi did not expect backwater omnivores to pack armor-piercing, antipersonnel ammo, IED expertise, or the F-22, the M1 Abrams, or the T-72.
    • In the second novel, the Qwernian Empire on Sarth get a dose of this after they capture a number of human diplomats in order to hold them hostage and force humans to deal with them exclusively. Humans instead mount a full-scale assault on their capital city and easily storm their palace without a single human casualty.
  • Lightspeed Leapfrog: Vlad and the vampires spend all of the second novel flying to the Shongairi homeworld at roughly 6 times the speed of light, taking them about 40 years. Just as they're preparing to repay the Shongairi for their attack on Earth, they detect a massive spindle-shaped vessel gaining on them at an unbelievable acceleration. Then Dave Dvorak contacts Vlad from his brand-new ship that has left Earth no more than 10 years ago.
  • Like a Son to Me: Pieter Ushaklov comes to view Zinaida, the girl he saved from Shongairi mortar fire, as his daughter.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • One of the Hegemony's more pragmatic founding races basically tells the Shongairi that they'll look the other way if humanity doesn't happen to make it through this.
    • Later, when the Shongairi decide we're too dangerous to use as slaves, they plan to make the release of their bioweapon look like an accident to deflect political fallout.
  • Meaningful Name: Mircea Basarab. See Genius Bonus on the YMMV page.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: On a previous planet they colonized, the Shongairi's bases were attacked by "cat-apes".
  • Molotov Cocktail: Molotovs become standard for resistance fighters, and are easily able to land inside alien vehicles through the infantry firing ports.
  • Mook Horror Show: The book is full of POVs of Shongairi soldiers freaking out as their comrades are slaughtered by human weaponry and vampires.
  • Morality Pet: Stephen becomes this for Mircea.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: Also Mother Afghanistan, Mother Ukraine, Mother Romania, and even Mother North Carolina... Weber really makes an effort to show that he views Earth as a World of Badass.
  • Neck Snap: How Ground Base Commander Shairez is put out of her misery.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: The Shongairi come off as insufficiently advanced because their entire war doctrine revolves around conquering pre-industrial races. Guess what happens when troops trained and equipped to curb-stomp natives with pointy sticks comes up against modern military hardware?
  • Next Sunday A.D.: We are never given an actual year, but we do get some subtle hints such as America having a female president.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: English-speakers tend to call the Shongairi "puppies" due to their canine-like appearance.
  • No Party Given: What party the Premier of Saskatchewan belongs to isn't specified, even though the Leader of the Opposition is identified as belonging to the New Democratic Party.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Shongairi, when the vampires attack, find the silence more disturbing than facing the destruction humans can cause in direct combat.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Mircea to Stephan in Chapter XXVIII (28).
    Mircea Basarab: It is just that we are so much alike, you and I. Deny it as you will, my Stephen, but there is a Slav inside you!
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Enforced thanks to the Shongairi keeping a close eye on our missile silos and nuclear subs.
    • The Shongairi keeping an eye on our nuclear capability means nothing as if they had the power to get rid of it, they would have done so ASAP and if you shoot everything at once, it doesn't matter if they manage to destroy the silos and subs (which they aren't necessarily capable of doing anyway).
    • This doesn't stop the radical factions in India and Pakistan from taking the opportunity to settle old scores by nuking one another after their population centers are wiped out by the Shongairi. In the aftermath, the angry Shongairi proceed to launch another salvo of rocks at the Indian subcontinent, further devastating it.
  • Numbered Homeworld: The Hegemony designated Earth "KU-197-20".
  • Obstructive Bureaucracy: The Hegemony. It takes them 600 years to go from deciding humanity is a threat to finally sending the Shongairi after us. The Shongairi are aware they can probably get away with subjugating or wiping out a Class Two civilization because it'll take at least a couple of centuries for the Hegemony to check up on them; more if they stall for time. Justified because Hegemony FTL isn't that much faster than light and their first contact teams are most made up of a race specifically known for adherence to procedure.
  • Off with His Head!: Decapitation is the only way to kill a Vampire. That being said, good luck managing that if you're not a vampire yourself.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Thikair has one when Ground Base Commander Shairez informs him that Humans have no submission mentality.
    • Dave Dvorak has one when he realizes that a Shongairi patrol will encounter him and his small resistance group during a supply run.
  • Oh, My Gods!: The Shongairi use names such as "Cainharn" and "Dainthar" in this fashion.
  • One World Order:
    • The Shongairi are confused that humanity managed to get to our current level of advancement without becoming this. It's starting to shape up in the sequel, as the governor of North Carolina seeks to unite all the human survivors under a single federal government modeled after the US (bicameral legislature, state-appointed senators, electoral college, etc.) in order to rebuild Earth and prepare for round 2 against the Hegemony in a few decades' time. By year 15 after the invasion, the Planetary Union of Earth consists of most of the nations, including US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Spain, both Italies (which split into Padania and Sicily), Portugal, Romania, India, and South Africa. Switzerland is on the fence, trying to lobby for "associated status", although President Howell makes it clear that it's either in or out, no middle ground. And Pakistan has become a hotbed of radical Islam and steadfastly refuses to join, as the Planetary Union constitution includes clauses for fundamental human rights, which the Pakistani leaders are vehemently against.
    • Averted with the Sarthians, who are at about the 1930s-1940s level of technology. They still have plenty of nation-states, but the two dominant ones are the Republic of Dianto and the Qwernian Empire. The others tend to be members of one of the two blocs. The humans compare them to Athens and Sparta of Ancient Greece. The Dianteans are a lot more like the humans in terms of their politics and values. They revere the rule of law. They are an island nation with a powerful navy. The Qwernian, meanwhile, have a strong warrior tradition and scoff at laws, preferring custom and tradition over the written word. They have a powerful army and control lots of natural resources, but their navy is lacking. The humans are adamant that they wish for the Sarthians to establish some kind of supranational governing body in order to help distribute the human technology equally.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: The concept of shoulder flesh wounds commonly seen in media is deconstructed in Chapter XXXIII (33).
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Instant intangibility/gaseous form, invulnerability to conventional weapons, undetectable to thermal or night vision, no need to breathe, and no vulnerability to holy items. Although the second book reveals that they're actually robotic beings composed of nanobots. Presumably, when a person is exposed to nanobots by drinking a vampire's "blood", they start to quickly replace their organs and cells with more of themselves until there's nothing of the original biology left.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Of the President Minority variety as POTUS is female in this story.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: Both sides are this to each other for various reasons. The vampires throw this trope back in the alien's face. Subverted in the sequel, where it's revealed that the vampires were created using by aliens using technological means and aren't supernatural in the least.
  • Papa Wolf: Humanity's hat. The Shongairi's psychology is built around a pack structure, and thus they automatically submit to superior members of the pack. Most herbivore species' psychology is herd-oriented, causing them to submit out of automatic fear-response and a desire to deflect threats away from the herd as a whole. Humans, however, are family-oriented - and they respond to threats against members of their families with swift and seemingly-irrational violence.
  • Planet of Hats: Earth is a planet of Determinators who happen to be Mama Bears and Papa Wolves. Notably, this is the conclusion reached by Base Commander Shairez because there is no other truly common thread she can discern, due to the violent diversity of human culture.
  • Post-Scarcity Economy: Thanks to assemblers (3D printers that work on a molecular level) and unlimited energy, all Hegemony races are this, especially since space travel makes it easy to obtain resources from asteroids and uninhabited planets. Humanity is starting to become this in the second novel 15 years after the invasion, with the assemblers left behind by the Shongairi being wholly owned by the Planetary Union government. The assemblers back the global currency, the Planetary Union dollar. Any PU citizen can get their basic needs satisfied for free, although luxuries still require money, which means people have to work.
  • Powered Armor: In the first part of the second book, powered armor is being developed under the name Project Heinlein.
  • Pronoun Trouble: After encountering the Sarthians and learning that they have three sexes, Dave Dvorak wonders for a short while about what pronoun to use for the neutro gender. But then the sophisticated translation software they're using comes up with a solution to use the Old English pronoun "ou" and its derivations: ous (his/her), oum (him/her), ouself (himself/herself). The narrator starts using these even before the Sarthians are contacted for the first time, which is likely to confuse the readers before the explanation is given.
  • The Quisling: Largely averted as a whole by humanity thanks to our collective outrage and the Shongairi's failure to understand human psychology and their "no carrot, all stick" approach. Then we get Governor Howell of North Carolina, who is actually a mole— something the Shongairi can't really conceive of until late in the book. Not only that, but he is instrumental in the sequel in trying to unify all the isolated pockets of survivors into a One World Order.
  • Rage Quit: This is, basically, how the Shongairi decide to end the war. They haven't been able to occupy the world, they can't complete their bioweapon, and now all their bases are getting assaulted by something they can't stop on the ground. Thikair withdraws his entire devastated army from the surface and then prepares to destroy the entire planet, mostly out of spite.
  • Recursive Translation: A major plot point of the latter third of Into The Light. The Earth delegation to Sarth uses the term "Councilor" for some of their minor civilian dignitaries, as it has a common equivalent amongst most Sarthian languages thanks to the democratic influence of Dianto, except in Qwernian, where the same word can be translated as "deputy". This leads to the Qwernians completely misunderstanding the Earth delegation's command structure, and who is actually in charge, which causes them to make successive diplomatic blunders.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Zigzagged with vampires. While shooting one in the head has no effect (they often demonstrate their invulnerability by shooting themselves in the head), it is possible to kill a vampire, but only Vlad and Ushakov know how. Ushakov kills Cecilia, who's gone off the deep end and started killing indiscriminately, by decapitating her with some kind of special kukri he got from Vlad's mansion. After a moment, her head and body crumble to dust (actually nanobots).
  • Restraining Bolt: Much of Hegemony technology has built-in restrictions to keep it working within acceptable parameters. This also includes their self-learning software (what humans would call primitive AI), which is kept in check by dozens of subroutines.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: The aliens usually do this successfully but get way more than they bargained for with humanity.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • The war against the Shongairi becomes this as so as it is confirmed that we can fight back and that they have landed on Earth.
    • Platoon Commander Rayzhar goes on one when his two little brothers were killed in a ambush. He does not discriminate against military and civilian targets.
    • It's clear at the end of the book that, with the help of captured Shongairi tech, Humanity will exact its revenge on the Hegemony and the Shongairi home worlds.
  • Rock Beats Laser: As it turns out, the depleted uranium-augmented Chobham armor on M1A2 Abrams tanks literally beats Shongairi vehicle mounted lasers.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: In the second book, the breakaway Conch Republic raids coastlines for any ship or boat that dares to sail. They capture the vessels and either keep them or sell them to warlords in exchange for food and supplies. The re-established US government puts a stop to that.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Colonel Sanders. Lasts a good ways into the novel, and inflicts a brutal defeat on the Shongari that gets talked about for the rest of the novel, but is killed in the bombing that follows.
  • Schizo Tech: How Earth is viewed. Not only is it weird for us to still be using fossil fuel power and yet to be avoiding chemical & biological weapons, but we've done things with military technology no other race ever would have because they would've been unified by that point.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Thikar decides to scrap the invasion and destroy Earth from orbit.
  • Self-Mutilation Demonstration: In the sequel, the vampires demonstrate their nature by either allowing themselves to be shot or shooting themselves in the head.
  • Sequel Hook: The end of the book makes it clear that since we got decades until the Hegemony realizes the Shongairi haven't responded back to them, Humanity plans on bringing the fight to them with captured Shongairi tech.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Self-Insert Fic: So what, a main character is named David; it's a common name. And his wife's name is Sharon... and they live in South Carolina... and their dogs are named Nimue and Merlin? Oh, come on, Weber!
  • Semper Fi:
    • Master Sargent Stephan Buchevsky is a US Marine and was an instructor when he wasn't stationed in the Middle East.
    • Rob Wilson, David's brother in law, is a former Marine Corps instructor. When it comes time to form the Continental Union Armed Forces, Rob is livid that there won't be a marine corps. To his credit, he manages to convince the brass to rename the nascent Continental Union Armed Forces Expeditionary Forces to Space Marines, especially since he finds the acronym CUAFEF ridiculous and sounding like a cat coughing up a furball.
  • Slasher Smile: When Dracula and other vampires board the Shongairi ships, Thikair is terrified of his smile.
    Thikair only stared at him, unable—not allowed—even to speak, and the human smiled. There was something terrifying about that smile... and something wrong, as well. The teeth, Thikair realized. The ridiculous little human canines had lengthened, sharpened, and in that moment Thikair understood exactly how thousands upon thousands of years of prey animals had looked upon his own people’s smiles.
  • Sleeper Starship: Despite the existence of hyperdrives, interstellar travel routinely takes from several decades to centuries (just being several times faster than light isn't much of a speed in galactic terms), requiring cryogenic suspension for the crew.
  • Space Marines: Dvorak's brother-in-law, a retired US Marine is angry that the Continental Union is thinking of abolishing the term "marine" as no longer necessary. Instead they're thinking of calling the assault branch of the army "Continental Union Armed Forces Expeditionary Forces". He thinks that CUAFEF sounds like a cat throwing up in the corner. He lobbies for calling the new branch "Space Marines", and apparently it works, much to the chagrin of certain staff officers.
  • Space Navy: The Planetary Union Navy is exclusively space-based. If there's anything the invasion has demonstrated, it's that a wet navy is utterly useless to anyone holding the orbitals and can see any ship in the ocean plain as day, being able to drop rocks on them well outside their range. Thus there no longer needs to be a wet navy. On the other hand, in order to standardize uniforms and rank insignia, as well as to avoid confusion, all the military branches now use the same ranking systems, so no admirals in charge of fleets or captains commanding ships. This does end up changing, however, as the naval personnel demand to be allowed to continue the old "wet" navy traditions, including the ranks.
  • Space Station: The space platform Bastion is built not long after the founding of the Planetary Union in order to house the seat of PU government, as doing it anywhere on Earth's surface would result in accusations of favoritism to a particular member state. The platform is home to the PU Congress, the Terra House (the residency of the president), the Citadel (the PU's version of the Pentagon), and the people who make it all work, so it's grown to a decent-sized city and is constantly in the process of being expanded.
  • Succession Crisis: Since the President and the entire line of succession, in accordance with the 25th Amendment, has been wiped out, there's no clear candidate to take the post of President. North Carolina Governor Judson Howell takes the reigns as the largest and most organized part of the country. While a congressman manages to survive the Shongairi attack, he wisely chooses to step aside, as Howell represents a far larger constituency than the people who elected him. This is less of an issue in Canada and Brazil, as the two people who become Prime Minister and President, respectively, were in the line of succession, albeit very far down.
  • Suicide Attack: Major Dan Torino and Abu Bakr were going to use a suicide truck bomb to destroy a Shongairi base. Becomes unnecessary when the Shongairi evacuate the planet.
  • Superweapon Surprise: Humanity has barely left their gravity well, and are facing a species that has FTL capability. Humanity has superior ground weaponry, but there's no way mankind can win, and both sides know it. But no one expected Dracula!
  • Take That!: The author does not have a good opinion on the F-35 Lightning II as shown during a scene where an F-22 Raptor pilot is criticizing it... while shooting down alien dropships.
  • Tank Goodness:
    • M1A2 Abrams and Romanian T-72 tanks do just fine against the invaders.
    • Shongairi tanks (called GEVs) have powerful lasers for armaments and can easily punch through our armor.
  • Tested on Humans: The Shongairi attempt to capture humans several times to prepare a bioweapon.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dracula delivers one of these to Thikair at the end, noting that, among other things, the Shongairi were going to sentence humanity to extinction for daring to defend themselves and fight back against an invader.
  • The Remnant: The remaining Human military units of the world are still fighting the Shongairi.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: The Shongairi usually do this successfully but get way more than they bargained for with humanity.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Absolutely no one on Earth will even consider helping the Shongairi thanks to their repeated orbital bombardment and the billions of human deaths.
  • Time Skip: The first part of Into the Light takes place not long after the invasion is over. The second part jumps forward 15 years. There are additional jumps by months and years in the novel. In fact, the epilogue takes place about 40 years after the beginning of the novel.
  • To Serve Man: Played with. The Shongairi are carnivores and consider not eating their fallen foes as almost disrespectful to them. This does not endear them to humanity or to any other race, for that matter.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The Publishers Weekly summary leaves no doubt as to the nature of the twist at the end of the novel.
  • Twist Ending: The last few pages of this novel shift this novel's genre signficantly away from Weber's usual Hard Sci-Fi by introducing vampires. YMMV, but few reviewers seem to appreciate it.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The book is basically vampires versus aliens. Plus that's just the first part of the trilogy!
  • Uncertain Doom: Admiral Robinson, who briefly takes command of the U.S. military after most of the cities and military bases are destroyed and organizes the first (quite effective) counterattack. He's targeted by the Shongairi immediately afterwards and multiple characters question/specualte whether he got away in time but are often told there's been no word of him since.
  • Upgrade Artifact: The Shongairi test direct "neural education" on humanity and finds us surprisingly better at receiving it than most of the Hegemony's species.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Brigade Commander Harshair undergoes one while his entire platoon gets decimated by American M1A2 Abrams in the Afghan desert.
      Brigade Commander Harshair: They’re primitives! Barbarians! They don’t even have interplanetary spacecraft, far less supralight capability! They can’t be doing this! It can’t be happening!
    • Thikair as the novel progresses, especially when humans begin destroying his ground bases. He eventually just decides to Rage Quit regarding the entire invasion and blow up Earth from orbit. Vlad disagrees, and the subsequent scene on the bridge of the alien dreadnought ends with Thikair breaking down into a sobbing wreck.
  • War Is Hell: Something the Shongairi finally learn after treating it like a safari for so long.
    Now the horrifying, thundering monsters [American M1A2 Abrams] came straight for the rest of the Shongairi in Harshair’s column, grinding contemptuously through or over the flaming carcasses of their dead comrades’ vehicles, trampling the wreckage underfoot, and the entire brigade began to come apart.
  • War Refugees: There are many of them in Romania, and the Shongairi aren't afraid to target them either.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Averted, but it is mentioned that survivors will do what they must to keep themselves and their families from starving.
  • Weakened by the Light: Zig-zagged. While vampires do indeed feel pain when exposed to sunlight, it's not because they're dying. It's because their changed bodies are fed by electromagnetic radiation, and sunlight overloads them. Older vampires have learned to control their intake and no longer suffer from it. That said, Vlad wasn't certain that the vampires, especially the new ones, would survive the unshielded trip into space with all the cosmic and solar radiation up there. He didn't tell the others because it wouldn't have a made a difference.
  • When All You Have is a Hammer…: The Shongairi's trump card is their orbital firepower, which they use in lieu of effective ground forces. Whenever someone resists on the ground, the Shongairi orbital forces bomb them, or the nearest town within three or four miles. They don't seem to get that this is just making things worse. This is reinforced by Shongairi pack-based psychology, which tells them that the best way to force compliance is by bombing targets to demonstrate superiority, but those insane humans just keep on fighting.
  • Wooden Stake: An SAS soldier-turned-mercenary, who has started working for a Mexican drug cartel, breaks off a chair leg and tries to use it to stab one of the vampires who have just slaughtered his elite unit. He misses and stabs her in the gut. She points out that it should be the heart and demonstrated on herself. She drops to the ground, with the other two vampires gasping. A second later, they all burst into laughter, as the stabbed one gets up. They explain that none of the "traditional" methods of killing vampires work, right before one of them rips out his heart.
  • Worthy Opponent: Regiment Commander Harah, despite hating them with a passion, still admires Humanity's ingenuity and resistance. Of course, he would never dare say this aloud.
    Harah's Inner Thoughts: Actually, Harah, part of you admires these creatures, doesn’t it? Once you get past their total lack of any concept of honor, at least. If you can ever accept that they truly don’t realize how completely and utterly dishonorable it is to refuse submission to a proven superior, it all looks a bit different, doesn’t it? After all, we’ve killed thousands of them for every Shongair we’ve lost, and they still have the guts—the absolutely insane, utterly irrational, totally dishonorable, mind-numbingly stupid guts—to come right at us. If they only had half as much brains, they would’ve acknowledged our superiority and submitted months ago, psychology or no psychology, of course. But, no! They couldn’t do that, could they? That would be the reasonable thing to do!
    • You aren't exactly doing a good job if you have to count people killed by orbital bombardment and civilians murdered by soldiers in your kill count to feel better about how badly your ass is being kicked:
      • we’ve killed thousands of them for every Shongair we’ve lost
  • Written by the Winners: In the second book, Vlad explains that while some of what he's done before his transformation would indeed be called cruel by modern standards, it was actually no different than what many of his enemies were doing. It's just that most of the stuff about him was written by the Ottomans, who wanted to portray Vlad as a bloodthirsty murderer.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Abu Bakr el-Hiri's reaction to the thought of using a suicide truck bomb.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Buschevsky when discussing the scenario of nearby villages selling them out to looters to save themselves.
    Stephan Buchevsky: If their kids start starving, then any parent worth a single solitary damn is going to do anything it takes to feed them. I understand that, and I’ll give any kid the last slice of bread I’ve got. But if any of those other enclaves out there decide to sell us out, or throw us to the wolves to save their own asses by pointing somebody who comes after what they’ve got in our direction—or if they’re stupid enough to try and use your agreement just to get close enough to us to hit us themselves—then I’m going to be really, really unhappy, you understand. And they won’t like me when I’m unhappy. Hell, I don’t like me when I’m unhappy!

Alternative Title(s): Into The Light

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