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    Review of RATS, BATS AND VATS by Eric Flint and Dave Freer

    Baen, September 2001

    Alien maggots have invaded the human-inhabited planet of Harmony and Reason (HAR), gradually overrunning the planet despite the efforts of the military--aided by cybernetically enhanced 'rats' and 'bats.' Another alien race sells humans military technology and advice, but that advice too-often seems either wrong or incomplete. At any rate, the humans are losing and the maggots have just snatched another significant chunk of territory, leaving a small group of soliders (one human along with small groups of rats and bats) behind the new expanded force field that prevents human counter-attack.

    Together with his heavy-drinking rats and his revolutionary bats, human Chip Connolly must stay alive in the face of literally millions of maggot soldiers and workers. Worse, the hive's 'group mind' means that even if they kill everyone who sees them, the bugs always know where they are hiding.

    Things only seem to get worse when Chip and the others have to rescue aristocratic Ginny Shaw, the heiress to the human colony's greatest fortune and her Korozhet tutor. The young woman at least has the virtue of being attractive (although Chip knows perfectly well what happens to vat-born clones who aspire above their stations and develop interests in shareholders) but the Korozhet is nothing but trouble--and only Chip seems bothered by this. Against the wishes of its generals, part of the human army watches the heroes as they attempt to survive but, as long as the force field remains intact, they are helpless to intervein. Even if they could, the humans have lost every battle they've fought.

    Authors Eric Flint (see more reviews of novels by Flint) and Dave Freer (see more reviews of novels by Freer) combine in a light-hearted look at the military, space-opera, and revolution. The story maintains a perfect balance between tongue-in-cheek and solid adventure, involving the reader in the characters at the same time as it keeps us smiling. The plight of the cybernetic rats and bats, as well as that of the slave-like clone humans (vats) adds a very mild political message to the light-hearted novel.

    RATS, BATS & VATS is the first novel in a series. The second is THE RATS, THE BATS & THE UGLY (see our review).

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 11/25/04

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