The Clone Alliance, by Steven L. Kent (Ace, 2007)


In the far future, war has broken out across the arms of the Milky Way Galaxy, as the Unified Authority fights against the secessionist Confederate Arms Treaty Organization and the fanatically religious Morgan Atkins Believers (or Mogats). Caught in the middle of this galaxy-wide conflict is former UA soldier and occasional war hero, Waylon Harris, the only Liberator-series clone known to still be alive. Waylon, fully aware of his clone status unlike the millions of other clones populating the UA armies, has, over the course of his adventures, become a rebel and a wild card. When he and his sometime partner, the mercenary Ray Freeman, got stranded on a distant planet, it looked like that was the end of the war for them both. That wasn’t to be the case for long.

Following a suicidal attempt to return to civilization at all costs, Harris and Freeman are once again drawn into the thick of things, used as a go-between for the various warring factions, which ultimately sends Harris right into the very heart of the Mogat empire. There, on an inhospitable planet, surrounded by millions of the enemy, he discovers their closely-held secrets. Little does he realize he’ll soon participate in a massive military attack upon the Mogats, a campaign which will once again test his morals and resolve. For Waylon Harris, it’s never dull.

The third book in the series, The Clone Alliance once again offers up stunning battle sequences, intriguing moral quandaries, and plenty of unexpected revelations. We see some pretty major developments in this book, especially related to the secret of the Mogats and their technology, and the religious/moral growth of Waylon Harris. I’ve enjoyed this series so far, as Steven L. Kent has gotten a lot of good mileage out of the concepts of breeding clones to find a war (a plot which admittedly has some passing familiarity to the Star Wars prequels) and brainwashing/programming soldiers to fulfill certain goals. (In an intriguing twist, normal clone soldiers are programmed to think of themselves as human, and to see themselves as having blue eyes and blond hair, as opposed to the brown eyes and brown hair every clone really possesses. In short, it’s an army of clones, each of whom thinks he’s the only human in a sea of clones… and furthermore, if they realize the truth, they die on the spot. Which makes Harris’ self-awareness all the more unique.) Kent has also done quite nicely in giving his characters personal quirks, from the clone soldier who’s developed a prankster personality, to Harris’ growing religiousness.

It’s a far-flung plot, taking place in various parts of the galaxy, but it holds together pretty well, save for a few coincidences that can be passed off as characters being both luckier, and smarter, than one might expect. But then again, where Harris is concerned, it seems as though nothing’s entirely impossible, and people have learned to take that into account. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a nice, fast-paced military SF book with plenty of well-scripted action and adventure to satisfy the discerning reader, with a sympathetic narrator and a good build-up towards the end. I’ll be looking forward to the next in the series. Newcomers will want to start with The Clone Republic and Rogue Clone.

Originally posted on SF Site, 2007

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