I first learned about the existence of this book in an ad, placed in either Asimov or Analogy magazine. It sounded interesting, but it wasn’t until I read a book review section where the book was mentioned as “highly enjoyable” or something. So I hunted for it at the Central Lending Library and was pleased to find a copy on the shelf.

The book certainly didn’t disappoint me.

NLB Call No.: BUE – [SF]
ISBN: 0446614297

If you enjoy Military-Sci Fi, then you’d love this one. Especially if you’re a fan of Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (the book, not the move with the half-baked cannibilised storyline). Just a few pages into the book, I realised that this was a story modeled after Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, but told from the perspective of a young man who became an orphan as a result of the alien projectile that destroyed where his mother lived.

Before the book begins, there’s an excerpt of an “anonymous letter fragment, recovered on Omaha Beach, Normandy, June 1944”:

“We crabbed shoulder to shoulder down the cargo nets to our landing craft bucking in the Channel, each GI’s bilge -and-sea-soaked boots drenching his buddy below. In that moment I realized that we fight not for flags or against tyrants but for each other. For whatever remains of my life, those barely met strangers who dangled around me will be my only family. Strip away politics and whatever or whenever, war is an orphanage.”

Many reviews mention this book along side with Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Joe Halderman’s Forever War (both which I enjoyed immensely).

My (extremely) rough notes:

Earth is under attack by aliens who hurl city-smashing projectiles across space. Humans are not prepared. One young man becomes an orphan when one such projectile destroys a city where his mother lived. He gets all angsty; gets into trouble with the law; judge gives him a choice — sign up with the Marines or go to jail. He reluctantly joins the Marine Corp; a soldier with an attitude problem. Eventually he gets whipped into shape. Earth launches a counterattack against the Aliens.

You can’t compare Orphanage with the two books. Robert Buettner has done a nice job in keeping the book fast-paced, where the dialogue is believable and the military hardware and combat sequences don’t go to the extent of overpowering the storyline. But Orphanage is more simplistic. I think it’s meant to be that way. It doesn’t delve that deeply into the social issues and human psyches the way Starship Troopers and Forever War did.

Amazon.com reviews here.