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Literature / The Apocalypse Troll

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Stand-alone military science fiction book by David Weber, also known for his Honor Harrington works.

Follows the adventures of the Russian-descended Time Traveling Super Soldier Colonel Ludmilla Leonovna chasing the big bad back in time to stop The End of the World as We Know It from happening.

The whole book is available online, on Baen Books.

Tropes associated with Colonel Ludmilla Leonovna herself:
  • Action Girlfriend
  • Ace Pilot: As of the beginning of the book, Ludmilla has thirty-four fighter kills and squadrons under her command have destroyed thirteen capital ships, including a dreadnaught which she was the Sole Survivor of the battle to destroy it. She kills at least one Troll Fighter after scrambling (maybe a second one, but the narrative doesn't confirm that her missile hit). Following that the Troll commander notes that, in the three week long running battle during which her fighter is the only remaining human craft because she hasn't had to sleep, she has killed another ten fighters from his squadron. She's an ace nine times over even before she takes out two more Trolls on atmospheric approach to Earth and the Troll commander only shoots her down because she was willing to die in order to nuke the Kanga ship carrying a bioweapon that would have made the entire human race extinct.
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  • Badass Bookworm: She has three advanced degrees.
  • Beast Man: The Kangas apparently look enough like Terran kangaroos that Ludmilla nearly shoots up a zoo upon her first sight of the latter.
  • Eternal English: Slightly subverted - some bits from 400 years in the future require explanation, such as dropping the first syllable of "mister" and just saying "Ster".
  • Girl in a Box: After her fighter is destroyed her escape pod homes in on Dick's boat and he opens it to find her inside, unconscious and covered in blood with a hole in her chest.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Lampshaded by the nameless Troll near the beginning of the book, who muses that the only things that have let Ludmilla keep up with his squadron over a week-long duel are the enhanced reflexes and endurance she gains from her cralkhi symbiote... the same symbiote that she gained from his own masters' malfunctioning bioweapon.
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  • Mayfly–December Romance: Ludmilla (who is effectively immortal via Healing Factor, though she can be killed) falls in love with a normal man. For certain values of "normal"...
  • Punny Name: Ludmilla's fighter is named Sputnik Too. Not Two, Too.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Looks 18-19, is actually 84.
  • The Symbiote: The source of her superhuman reflexes, strength, Healing Factor and apparent youth. Can be passed to others via blood transfusion, but since it has a 95 to 99% death rate (depending on the available medical technology), this is never done except in desperation, when the person receiving it would die anyway.
  • Take Me to Your Leader: The second sentence she says to Dick (after "Hello, yourself") after waking up. It's an Invoked Trope because she's from the future, literally fell from space, has an interest in "historical" entertainment, and (as she explains when Dick calls bullshit on her using this line) has a low brow sense of humor.

Tropes associated with the rest of the book:
  • Absolute Xenophobe: the Kangas. The Trolls, judging by the sample of one we have, go past this and into Omnicidal Maniac territory.
    • The Kangas are genocidal religious fanatics and the Trolls are their cyborg slaves which also happen to be "programmed" to be psychotic aside from absolute loyalty to their masters. The Trolls are very aware of their enslavement and hate their Kanga masters just as much as everything else (see the Omnicidal Maniac entry below).
  • Always Chaotic Evil: the Trolls, every single one.
  • Blood Knight: While Trolls are best described as Omnicidal Maniacs, they do delight in destroying the objects of their all consuming hatred.
    • The Trolls are portrayed in the book as especially hating Ludmilla and her kind.
  • Brain in a Jar: Trolls are psychotic lab grown human brains that are installed into war machines. They're even interchangeable, as the Troll leaves his fighter to enter the climactic ground battle by transferring his organic component into his combat chassis.
  • The Dragon: Blake Taggart.
  • Dictionary Opening: The book uses definitions from the fictional "Webster-Wangchi Unabridged Dictionary of Standard English" as chapter epigraphs.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Captain Onslow ordering Ludmilla to pursue the fleeing Kangas with all of her surviving fighters instead of returning to protect the Defender because he's already given orders to ram the Troll dreadnaught. He nicely caps it off with the words "See You in Hell, Col-" as the flagships collide in a titanic explosion.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: We're only told (not shown) how Kangas think, but the Troll viewpoint is almost as alien. Their foes deliberately try to not think of them as at all human.
  • Mind Rape: The Troll does this to several people in order to acquire information about present-day Earth. One victim is a schoolteacher who was camping with her husband; it has its way with her for 6 hours before finally disposing of her body, and records every moment of the process for its later enjoyment.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: where the Troll first lands on Earth.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Trolls would gladly kill their alien masters if they could, but the Kangas made very sure they can't. So they'll settle for killing everything else.
    • When humans first found out that Trolls were cloned human cyborgs they set a trap to isolate and rescue a few of them. The Trolls slaughtered the peaceful envoys attempting to make contact, even though it was clear that they were completely outgunned by said envoys' military guards. They just tried to kill as many as they could before being taken out themselves.
  • Psychic Powers: The Kanga's tampering gave the Trolls a limited ability to read and manipulate human minds. It only works on about a third of humans, though. A key challenge for most of the book is keeping the whole thing secret from anyone the Troll might be able to read. Even finding out who is and isn't immune is a fairly impressive challenge, since the only way to tell the difference is with an EEG, and they can't tell anyone why they're scanning them before they run the scan.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Kangas fall under the "aliens as religious fundamentalists" version of this trope. Their religion teaches that God made one race in his image (them, in case you hadn't guessed), while the Devil takes an infinite number of different forms in his attempts to destroy them. By the time they encountered humanity, they'd built their entire culture around searching out and exterminating every other sapient race in the universe.
  • See You in Hell: literally Captain Onslow's last words, spoken to Ludmilla as the Defender rams the Troll dreadnaught. Both ships are completely annihilated in a huge nuclear fireball.
  • Sole Survivor: Ludmilla and the Troll are the only survivors of a pair of Standard Sci-Fi Fleet battle groups that spent about a month (subjective time, at least, considering that they spent most of it at relativistic speeds) wiping each other out both before and after they went so fast they went back in time. The Troll is unaware that Ludmilla survived for most of the book, however, because he thought he had killed her when he destroyed her fighter over the Atlantic. He only learns of her survival when she activates her blaster during the climactic final battle, an instant before she blows him to hell.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: The general organization of both the Terran Navy and the Kangas. The shorthanded human battle group is led by the Defender, which ends up facing off against a Kanga carrier and dreadnaught, after both sides' cruisers and destroyers were destroyed before the big ships managed to defy Einstein.
  • Temporal Paradox: After some early discussion, the question is tabled in favor of more practical matters. The upshot is that it doesn't really matter; even if Ludmilla's home timeline is safe, she and her comrades would fight just as hard to save another Earth from what the Kangas and their cyborg slaves would do to it.
  • Terminator Twosome: Ludmilla and the Troll, each the sole survivor of their respective forces.
    • The Troll thinks he killed Ludmilla ("the cralkhi") from the point that he blasts her fighter to pieces in low orbit. A major element of the story from that point is that her existence must remain a secret because the only weapon on the planet that can reliably destroy the Troll can only be fired by Ludmilla, because it's hardwired to her DNA. They could still use strategic-grade nukes (there's actually an F-18 Hornet overhead on standby during the climax, being flown by an extremely freaked-out pilot who is not happy to know that he might be ordered to destroy half of North Carolina at any given moment), but if she is actually able to pull the trigger there's a much better chance of not killing a few million innocent bystanders.


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