Republic by Steven L Kent

Rating 8.9/10
A top SF title with space battles, different planets and Galactic politics.

Earth, 2508 A.D.. Humans populate the six arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. The oppressive Unified Authority controls Earth’s colonies with an iron first, stamping out revolt with a powerful military made up almost entirely of expendable, mass-produced clones.

Private First-class Wayson Harris was raised in a Unified Authority orphanage among thousands of clones, bred to be the ultimate soldiers. But unlike the other Marines, programmed to obey first and think later, Harris has a mind of his own. When he fends off an attack from a rogue general, Harris is thrust into the middle of a galactic conflict that forces him to question his existence as a weapon of the U.A. and the cost of rebellion.

The Clone Rebellion: Republic is the first book of The Clone Rebellion series written by Steven L. Kent. For some readers talk about clone rebellions often refers to Star Wars but, just to let you know, these books do not reference and are not part of the Star Wars universe. The Clone Rebellion consists of eight books so far, with book nine planned to be released October 2013. They have been out for quite some time in the US through ACE, and now they are crossing the Atlantic with Titan Books publishing the whole series between March and September 2013. I mentioned in the review of The Noise Within that I wanted more SF, so with Titan Books having provided SEAL Team 666, Clone Republic and Clone Rogue, March has been quite the month for me.

Republic is quite the powerful story, written with a great galactic backdrop. It takes place in the year of 2508 A.D., humans have expanded their reach by terraforming and colonizing most of the planets in the six arms of the Galaxy. Even though the expansion has been far reaching, the universe is ruled still from planet Earth, Washington D.C.. The government currently controlling everything is called the Unified Authority, and they control through military superiority. They have high tech gear and advanced space ships, but above all is their creation of synthetic soldiers known as clones. It’s military superiority without the worry of casualties. The clones have been engineered with specific aims in mind - they cannot think for themselves and if they ever discover they are a clone, their body releases a lethal chemical that will kill them instantly. Another aspect of the cloning is that after they come out of the test tube, they are placed in clone ‘orphanages’. Altogether this backdrop gives off a bit of an eerie feeling - sort of inhuman, classified, where you just don’t know 100% what’s going on.

The main protagonist of Clone Republic is Wayson Harris. He starts the story as a Private First Class, placed on a settlement called Gobi. Soon after the introductions are done, you learn more about Wayson - that he looks and acts different, that he thinks for himself, and that he was top of the class in almost everything. So what is he doing in an outreach of a settlement? Things progress and as he makes his way through the galaxy, Wayson always has one great friend with him - Vince Lee. Wayson sees that every Marine looks the same, including Vince, but Vince does not see this and it creates a lot of tension in the story, especially considering Vince’s personality twist. Wayson and Vince have a lot of support for each other, and they are a fun duo to read about.

Next to the setting and the strong and enjoyable characters of Clone Republic, I want to briefly mention the fight sequences and technology. A lot of the battles are fought on different planets and give a very detailed display of what the clone Marines are possible of. Being equipped with a few nifty tech items like Noxium grenades and their battle suits also helps. Steven L Kent describes these scenes in a very vivid and colourful way that gives you a front row seat to the action. Also, there is lively description of the space ships, their warping and interstellar transport technology, which really creates a feeling of “awe” – it makes you wonder about this giant universe with endless possibilities.

Clone Republic is a top SF title for me. I still haven’t got that much material to compare it with, but this book is written in a great way and is a very nice display of what is possible in this genre. Steven L. Kent produces with this first book a diverse introduction to The Clone Rebellion universe, going from space battles between Destroyers and Frigates, to Marines fighting rebels on different planets, to a nice intermezzo private leave, and to Galactic politics. Clone Republic had a nice overall pacing and enough twists and turns to keep me wanting to find out what happens next.

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