Space: Above and Beyond: Demolition Winter
Written by: Peter Telep
Published By: HarperPrism
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I was a huge fan of the 1995 sci-fi television series Space: Above and Beyond and was surprised it only lasted one year. Slated for five years, the show was aired on Sundays and, thanks to Sunday Night Football, lost its battle for ratings despite the huge fan following. The show was centered around the 58th United States Marine Corps Squadron whose members had joined for various reasons, but were all united against one common enemy, an alien force known as Chigs. I had the original novelization of the pilot episode of the show, but never knew that other books had been written. Years later, I found a copy of Space: Above and Beyond: Demolition Winter and knew I had to have it.
Taking place shortly after the death of Nathan West’s brother, Demolition Winter begins with the 58th Squadron, AKA: the Wild Cards, on a tear, having completed mission after mission. But there’s no rest for the weary. They are slated for a new mission, one that the 21st Squadron could not complete. They are to be inserted into an ice planet known as the Bulldog’s Belly. While there, they are to demolish Chig supply lines and, if possible, discover what happened to the 21st. No sweat, right? Except the Wild Cards can’t use their fighters to get past Chig defenses – they have to enclose themselves in torpedoes modified for the trip and then steal Chig fighters to escape. Oh, and did I mention that they have to trust a Silicate added to their team as a demolitions expert?
But that’s not all that the Wild Cards are up against. Their leader, Captain Shane Vansen has just celebrated a birthday…actually celebrate is not the best of words. As she turns one year older, Vansen begins to change, becoming more hardcore and questioning her motives. Lt. Nathan West, having lost so much to the Chigs, is up for the mission, but his torp’s mechanics fail and he finds himself way out of position for the mission and nowhere near the rest of his squadron.
The insertion of a Silicate in the squadron does nothing for its morale. Shane’s mother and father were killed by Silicates and Lt. Paul Wang was tortured by one. Trust issues abound and come between members of the squadron as Lt. Cooper Hawkes deems the squadron’s attitude toward the Silicate as prejudice, something that he has endured as a tank-grown human. Lt. Vanessa Damphousse is none too sure about the mission either, especially with her commanding officer acting so off and the tension added by the Silicate insert.
As the mission moves forward, the 58th gets a dose of reality regarding the powers that be that sent them to Bulldog’s Belly. Their mission specs change and they find themselves in rescue, destroy and evade mode in an action-packed battle on an ice planet filled with enemies, both real and imagined. Can the Wild Cards complete their mission and return to the Saratoga in one piece?
Space: Above and Beyond: Demolition Winter brought me back to the excitement of the television series. Peter Telep is so in tune with the characters and so descriptive, I could actually see everything taking place in my mind’s eye. In fact, he fooled me a little. After reading this novel, I wasn’t totally sure if it wasn’t based on an episode (I haven’t watched my DVD set in a while) and I had to look up the episodes to be sure. Demolition Winter is definitely episode worthy and probably could have been made into a real episode had the show continued on as originally intended.
I loved the twists and turns Demolition Winter took. You just never were too sure who to trust. I kept waiting for the moment when the team would be betrayed, but when that moment came, I was totally unprepared for the revelation. Fans of the series are going to love this novel and the continuation of their favorite space marines!