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The Vang: The Military Form by Christopher Rowley
Published by Del Ray
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
The Vang: The Military Form is not a direct sequel to Starhammer, since it's set five hundred years later and has none of the same characters, but it's in the same universe and there are references to the Laowon and how the Starhammer was used to free humanity from Laowon domination.
It is set on a colony world called Saskatch, where a powerful drug called TA45 is being refined from tropical tree ferns. Meanwhile, an illegal prospecting mission in the asteroid belt discovers an ancient Vang escape pod and releases a Vang Military Form. It takes over the space ship and uses it to get to the planet, where it transforms hordes of hapless people into organic battle machines. Two people from the spaceship escape to warn the people of Saskatch, and manage to enable the ancient billionare Arntage and his companions to escape from the spaceport, which is under the control of the Vang.
I didn't enjoy this book as well as the first one. There wasn't the same sense of grandness and wonder in it, and it just seemed more grungy and gritty. Also there were some contridictions with the descriptions of the Baada drives in the two books.
Furthermore, the characterization of the Vang made them seem less awful and unfathomable, since we actually see inside their minds, which brings us closer to them. They were scarier when they were Alien. Still I did like the portrayal of a dysfunctional family in the Beshwans, and their daughter's dillema in dealing with them. She feels a duty to them because they're her parents, but she's old enough that she can tell this isn't normal.
Unfortunately this book has gone out of print. It is possible to have Amazon.com search for a used copy, albeit at a premium.
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This review posted May 23, 1999
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