There’s nothing like enslavement by brutal alien overlords to bring people together, right?
Or at least in most science fictional scenarios. But in Peace Warrior, author Steven L. Hawk takes that classic story set-up and turns it around. Excepting John Lennon (rest in peace, btw), most of us probably can’t imagine a world without war, hatred, poverty, misery, and all-around horror headlining the news every night.
Grant Justice is one of us. He swears up a storm even when he’s not directing military maneuvers in one of earth’s endemic wars. He’s a good guy who can handle a gun who happens to die in a particularly gruesome manner (insert description here of shattered bone and bloody, ragged stumps where limbs used to be. Oh, and drowning).
But 600 years from now, when a young N’mercan scientist resurrects him with the power of cryogenics, Grant Justice is a social deviant, a dangerous “Violent” far removed from the Peace-loving culture of the distant future. And seriously, those future humans need to chill out. “What the fuck?” are entirely acceptable first words for a guy whose consciousness has been drifting in a deathly abyss of memories for the last six centuries.
But the world Grant wakes up to isn’t anything like what he remembered. And it’s probably more of a shock than waking up in 1410 would be. At least people swore back then. But Hawk has created a world where world peace has been achieved and beauty pageant contestants have to think of some new cliché to talk about (insert gasp!).
Peace isn’t just some geopolitical goal either—it’s a lifestyle. Welcome to Planet Pacifist, where the “verbal violence” of a bewildered “What the fuck?” is enough to excommunicate a time traveler from society. Oh, and where an alien race called the Minith enslaved earth’s entire human population to die in the millions mining for natural resources—and did it without quashing a single rebellion. Why? Because there weren’t any.
The appropriate response here would, indeed, be: What the fuck? I mean, ABC has a Catholic priest becoming a terrorist to fight alien subjugation (and it’s awesome).
Humankind’s last hope is the revived warrior with the violent psyche of a twenty-first century human, good ol’ Grant Justice—and while the name reeks of cliché, Peace Warrior doesn’t. There are a very few weak points (the Grant-Avery love interest subplot happened a little too fast, perhaps), but Hawk makes his story, characters, and future world entirely plausible.
Good science fiction tells a captivating story, making readers empathize with believable characters and tense with anticipation as the story builds to a climax. Peace Warrior does all this, hands-down. The book had barely started before I was entirely invested in the success of Grant and his army of Violents. Example: the other day I was reading in my sister’s room while she painted. When I cheered out loud, she asked simply: “Did Grant kill another alien?” Hell yes he did! And I, well how could I not be with Team Human?
There’s nothing like good storytelling—but great stories go deeper than that. Science fiction can take us into the far future, but the best SF reflects the present world too, incorporating contemporary social issues and ideas into the plot itself (there’s nothing worse than a preachy novel, after all). Peace Warrior is a damn good story, even as Hawk raises complex issues about Nature vs. Nurture and the role of violence in society.
I’ll be concise to sum up, because I think that’s how Grant would want it: Rebel humans are super badass, and Peace Warrior is a great book.
Peace Warrior is available as an ebook on Amazon for $2.99.