Review: The Damned by Alan Dean Foster

Trask grows weary of aliens landing and killing all the helpless humans. Invariably, aliens either have advanced technology or a biological edge, ie. claws and big, sharp  teeth to get the job done. It never occurs to anyone that some aliens might not be so big and scary.  That humanity could be the most dangerous creature in the universe.

This is the underlying premise of “The Damned” series by  Alan Dean Foster.  There are three books in the series.

A Call to Arms

The False Mirror

The Spoils of War

I will not tell you these are great science fiction. They are strictly summer day reading, but the ideas in the books were interesting enough to keep me engaged.

Two great powers, the Weave and the Amplitur do battle for the universe. The war rages for centuries and then humanity gets recruited by the Weave to fight the Amplitur. The premise is old hat to any sci-fi fan, the execution was original.

The Amplitur actually believe they are the “good guys.” They have a pseudo-religious plan to unify all the universe and take the next evolutionary step together. It makes you all warm and fuzzy until they start conquering planets who do not want to sign up. Amplitur also have a form of mind-control that cannot be resisted. You will literally jump off a cliff if they asked.   The Weave is a loose collection of races fighting the Amplitur.  That is their only purpose; stop the Amplitur and let people live in peace. They are vaguely libertarian.

Both sides try to minimize casualties, since both sides have a vested interest in recruiting rather than killing each other. Mostly ground fighting and limited use of nuclear weapons.  The war stalemates for centuries.

The Weave, seeking new allies, quietly land in Belize and picks up a few humans for testing.  Each race in the universe has its specialization. Some are fast, or strong,  others  intelligent.  As a collective, their racial characteristics exceed human maximum in every area, save one.

Humanity may be below the curve on average, but in one area we are absolutely the best: war. We are the xenomorph from “Alien” or a “Predator.”  No race can stand against us either physically or tactically in combat. We are more agressive, devious and violent than any known species. Everyone fears us, even our allies.

Throughout the books, besides the expected combat scenes, there is a surprising amount told from an alien perspective. I thought it gave an interesting view on what it means to be human and all the violence our heritage contains. Most sane humans avoid war as a waste of human life. Foster asks an excellent question. Can you feel guilty killing the minions of mind-controlling religious fanatics who are not human? Humanity finally gets a war where the other side is not just portrayed as non-human monsters, they actually are! His portrayal of humanity actually “enjoying” the war is disturbing and realistic.

I enjoyed reading military sci-fi with some thought put into them.  They are worth a look.

Trask, the Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.