Fiction Reviews

The Future War

(1997) S. M. Stirling, Gollancz, 9.99, trd pbk, 357 pp, ISBN 0-575-07157-5

The Future War is the third, and presumably final, part of S. M. Stirling's Terminator novels based on James Cameron's and William Wisher's cinematic creation. Now, I previously gave the first in the series a good review and, boy, how I wish that that novel had been the basis of the third Terminator film, however the actress that played Sarah Connor apparently was not destined to appear in the third film for reasons I am sure you could find out about should you feel so inclined.

Anyway, what we got with the third Terminator film was an alternative to the ground covered by this third novelization. Stirling takes us from a few days before judgement day, through the apocalypse and to the point when they send Kyle back in time to protect Sarah from the Terminator.

Enough said really. The trilogy of novelizations was written without the necessary grounding in the first book for them to stand alone and so they will only appeal to those who have seen the film. However such is the strength of Stirling's first offering in this saga that many may wish to find out about his take on the apocalypse.

As for me, I found it engaging. However I have to say I was not entirely convinced as to the way Judgement Day would have affected the world outside the US. But maybe with my interest in human ecology and biosphere science I am probably a little more sensitive to the house of cards we have made of our current global society that is far less resilient than many people (including politicians) realise. Given an AI with access to the US nuclear arsenal, hence indirect (through anticipated retaliation) to much of the rest of the World's arsenal, the potential kick a Judgement Day would give would knock our global society for six for generations. Whereas here parts of the World not that far from the US seem to carry on as if nothing happened.

But apart from this one gripe, Stirling delivered a suite of characters to take us through the apocalypse and within his book's rationale, they do do that well. Infiltrator should have been the third film while the second novelisation and Future War might have made for excellent follow-ups. Ahh well. You can't have everything.

Jonathan Cowie

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