Review: The Unincorporated War
You may remember that THE UNINCORPORATED MAN followed the adventures of Justin Chord, a man who had frozen himself in a time capsule to be reawakened when the cures to his diseases were found and he could be revived to live again. Justin indeed was awakened to a world run by the system of incorporation, the selling of personal shares to individual lives. The vast majority of mankind was working, not able to make their own decisions, towards being a majority share holder in their own stock thus taking control of their decisions and their lives. Justin saw the system as tantamount to slavery and started to oppose it immediately. The end of THE UNINCORPORATED MAN saw Justin forced into space towards the outer planets starting a revolution that pitted the outer planets and asteroid belt versus Earth and its incorporated system.
THE UNINCORPORATED WAR picks up where MAN left off. Justin is now president of the outer colonies and trying to fight a war with the inner planets. Meanwhile Hektor Sambianco, Justin’s main opposition in the courtroom in the first book, is the only one who sees just how dangerous Justin is to the world and his perfect incorporated system. Hektor rises to power on earth to continue to fight against Justin.
I don’t expect all of you to get all of that. There’s a lot going on here and more to it, as well. Characters who appeared in the first book take on new significance here, showing more depth than they had originally. New characters appear and the world seems to shift from the courtroom to battles in outer space. This isn’t to say that the book turns into an all-out action novel. It felt more like reading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. The action is never so much described as discussed later. The joy isn’t in the battle scenes themselves, but in the strategy behind them and the tactics of the various military leaders. I loves me a good action scene as much as the next guy, but I was happy with the way the Kollin brothers sucked me in with the various scenarios that played out in space.
It’s weird how a series of books, the first playing out in courtrooms with legal battles and the second dealing with very real wars out in space, can have a similar feel to it, and yet it really does. It still all about maneuvering and outwitting your opponent, and that’s where the book really shines. The battles are fun and engaging. There are twists and tricks to them as each battle is played out. The reader thinks that the battle is going a certain way only to have the rug pulled out from under them as it quickly turns.
Sadly there were some other things that I was disappointed with. Let’s start with Justin. As the unincorporated man back on earth, he was a fun character. He was brash and self assured. He was the main driving force back on earth for the events that happened there. Such is not the case here. Justin as President of the Outer Alliance really is quite boring. He is relegated to talking in meetings while all the real fun character action and motivation is left to other characters. Indeed it seems like the story has left him behind.
Which leads me to my other complaint about the book. I know it is a cardinal sin for a reviewer to talk about what they wanted the book to be instead of talking about what it is, but darn it I’m going to do it anyway, so let’s get it out of the way. As a Military SF book about war between the outer planets and the inner planets of the solar system (mainly Earth and Mars), the book works just fine: it’s a good, solid read. But (and this is a big BUT I’m talking about here), it’s called the unincorporated war, emphasis on incorporation! You know, that really cool idea from the first book? Where people sell stocks in themselves and are run like mini companies? Doesn’t that sound cool? You’d think something like that, an idea like that, would trickle down into every aspect of the book. Every character back on earth or mars (who by the way is incorporated) should think about incorporation or act on some aspect of it all the time! It should come up all over the place. It should affect every decision they make, every action. The ramifications of such a system should be so wide spread that it encompasses everything. And the characters in the outer alliance? They should feel the lack of it (I mean they’ve been living with it their whole lives right?) It should affect what they are doing as well.
But you know what? It doesn’t. Not for a second. Not for even a brief microsecond. All we get are a few scant references as to why the war is being fought. “We must put an end to this evil system of incorporation.” Why? As far as I can see it does absolutely nothing. Every character on earth behaves just as he or she wants without any thought or consequence. The system has disappeared in everything but name only. And that’s my biggest complaint. This story of the war is fun and well done, but it could have been written in any other bland SF universe. The Kollin brothers have invented something else, something truly fun to think about, and then they left it by the wayside.
Which is a bummer. THE UNINCORPORATED MAN started off on a pretty decent start, but I was hoping for more with this one.
Recommended Age: 14+ I’d say. It’s a bit slow for younger readers. Not enough explosions and whatnot.
Language: Scattering of words. The Kollins aren’t in to a ton of profanity.
Violence: Nothing gory. Space battles, but all impersonal.
Want to give this novel a shot? Here are the links to the various books in this series, in order: