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Europa Strike: The Heritage Trilogy    by Ian Douglas order for
Europa Strike
by Ian Douglas
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2000 (2000)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Douglas is back in action with yet more Marine derring-do. Europa Strike rounds off his Heritage Trilogy very nicely indeed. The story starts as Major Jeffrey Warhurst looks out on the Bahaman ocean deeps from within a navy submersible, Manta. This is a test of new alien technology in preparation for use underneath the ice of Europa, a frozen moon of Jupiter and the location of yet another alien artifact. This one, The Singer, appears to be attempting to communicate and Earth powers are in a race for first contact.

This time the Chinese are the bad guys (on the human side, that is). They are prepared to start a war in order to be first with the Singer and Major Warhurst ends up under siege in the Europa Deep-Access Research Station with less than a hundred Marines against a Chinese onslaught by air and ice. Attrition is fierce and their situation quickly moves from bad to desperate. But Marine ingenuity comes up with innovative approaches to warfare on and below the icy terrain.

Douglas brings back many familiar characters from Semper Mars and Luna Marine, in particular Jack Ramsey and my favorite, Kaitlin Garroway. He does an excellent job of depicting scenes of battle but continues to have fun with them too - he's managed to up the ante from lobbing cans of beer as missiles to something more potent, just as deadly, and even funnier. And he continues to throw in literary references, with an A.I. called Dejah Thoris from Burroughs' Princess of Mars, and the Europa station nicknamed Ice Station Zebra from the thriller by Alastair Maclean.

If you haven't tried this trilogy yet, start with Semper Mars. It's full of fast-moving military action, entertaining science and engaging characters that the author moves on and off center stage from book to book. He picks a different planet for each story and figures out how the Marines will respond to it, both in technological and in human terms. I can't wait to see where he'll send his Marines next, but I predict that one of Kaitlin's kids will run the show.

Europa Strike includes a first human clash with the powerful Hunters of the Dawn, but not quite in the form that I expected. Given that it was a brief encounter and there is scope for so much more, it looks to me like the series will go beyond the initial trilogy, good news for its fans.

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