Wounded Worlds: Nihil Novum by Ryan Hodge

This science fiction epic of war and morality is compelling, despite its faults.

I found the story slow going to start with. Scenes jump between alien and human characters, on Earth and an alien planet, and back and forth in time. Scene headers state the time and place, but I couldn’t be bothered to read them at first, so it took a while to figure out what was happening. But the characters and their situations were sufficiently interesting to keep me reading. Once I got used to the time jumps, the back story and the forward plot built into a compelling whole.

The writing is very readable throughout, though suffering from occasional editing errors which I found annoying.

The plot’s rather complicated: the Americans have defeated an alien occupation of Earth, and are now liberating another occupied world, Talveras. The human protagonist, Ruan Altman, is an ex-soldier, now a civilian administrator on Talveras. American forces are mopping up the last alien hostiles while the civilian government are selling the benefits of the American constitution to the natives (the humanlike novum). Ruan gets friendly with a female novum, Fa’ashi. They both have pasts they’d rather forget, but hers is catching up with her.

Expect lots of violence and bloodshed.

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