Other than using too much salt, reading is the last guilty pleasure allowed me while I’m warming a thumb in the rare bit of downtime we get at work on board our big floating fuel tank. The downside to picking up an engaging book is that it can lead to bad reading discipline, resulting in me reading through much or most of my off-watch time, leading to sleep debt. On the one hand, I get to enjoy some hopefully uninterrupted time with a great book. On the other, I wake up from a short nap, groggy, and do things like pour a can of diet pepsi into my oatmeal.
If that example sounds oddly specific, that’s because that’s exactly what I did when I stayed up too late reading Marko Kloos’ ‘Terms Of Enlistment.’
Terms of Enlistment is a sprawling story, concisely written- It’s a military-centric sci-fi novel set in a future that sounds damn probable, following one military recruit from a favela style housing project as he wins a slot at boot camp and gets molded into a useful member of the military, though not the branch he wanted, and seeks out a place for himself in strange company while trying to adapt his dreams and desires to the reality he faces. The book is meant from the start to be a serial- as stand-alone stories go, it’s rewarding and readable and damn well written- the language and tone are suited to the situation; to me, descriptions of boot camp and the gun tech reads at times like a dispassionate report in a personnel file, and that’s exactly what makes the book a good stand-alone read- your feelings, empathy and receptiveness to the storyline evolve with the story.
… and it’s a hell of a storyline. Sprawling, as I said, and written in a linear fashion. The author has made fertile ground of the book’s world, and I’ve picked up only the most vague indications of which avenues he will explore or cast off in subsequent novels.
Have no doubt, this is very obviously a storyline that can go somewhere, and I’ll be curious to see if Kloos can evolve the plot enough to do justice to the potential- the most significant plot twist left an odd combination of questions unanswered, and I’m hoping this will be borne out without going all Larry Niven and being hit-or-miss in the next installments.
I’m excited to read something unique and suitable to my palate, and I like how the book contains some payoff material but overall makes me ask “where’s he going with this?” I’ll be happy to find out when the next part comes out. This book reads quickly- As I said, I burnt up a couple of off-watch periods that should have included more sleep. You should read this.
You can learn more at Marko Kloos' blog "The Munchkin Wrangler" here or on the sidebar.