BOOK REVIEW: OSPREY ADVENTURES BUG HUNTS & WAR OF THE WORLDS

Osprey Adventures is a new series of small-format, soft cover books (about the size of a graphic novel). The books provide a short, in-universe overview of a particular subject. Here’s how Osprey describes the series:

“There is a line where fact and fiction meet. This is the realm of Osprey Adventures. Unlike bookstores, the world is not divided into fiction and non-fiction. There are many subjects, such as myths and legends, secret histories, folklore, conspiracy theories, cryptozoology, UFOs and aliens that often don’t fit neatly into either category. Osprey Adventures was created to explore these topics, and produce books filled with interesting stories, whether they be factual, fictional, or somewhere in between.”

The line covers numerous topics, with titles as diverse as VAMPIRES, JACK THE RIPPER, THE CTHULHU WARS, DINOSAUR HUNTER and WEREWOLVES. I tried out Mark Latham’s BUG HUNTS and Mike Brunton’s WAR OF THE WORLDS.

BUG HUNTS by Mark Latham

Anyone who has read ARTEFACT, or any of THE LAZARUS WAR books, will know that BUG HUNTS was bound to be my sort of book.
BUG HUNTS by Mark LathamBUG HUNTS is 80 pages of pure ALIENS- and STARSHIP TROOPERS-inspired goodness. The book recites a fictional (and hopefully alternative) future history, which basically revolves around the discovery of bug-based alien lifeforms. These include Draper’s World Xeno-Parasites, Centauran Araknyds, and the Hive-Beasts of Klaatu VI. As you can probably predict, contact between humanity and “the bugs” has universally been brief and violent. The descriptive text – well-written and engaging – is accompanied by black-and-white and colour imagery.

The human response to the bugs is the STAR Marine Corps: corporate “soldiers for hire”, equipped with the best hardware that the human race has to offer. The STAR Marines are Colonial Marines or Mobile Infantry, but if you don’t have the funds you don’t get the protection. This section is accompanied by a brief run-down of the Marines’ key equipment.

 

I pretty much loved BUG HUNTS. The book really throws you into the universe that it creates. This is necessarily derivative, but if you enjoy the source material on which it is based, you really won’t mind this at all. The equipment section felt a little brief, but there’s a lot of ground to cover here – from rifles, heavy weapons, to exo-suits, ground vehicles and even starships – so that’s completely understandable. The writing is on point, snappy and well-directed, but that’s only part of the story.

I should also remark on the artwork: it’s awesome! The cover – the Marine with his motion tracker, being stalked by an unknown alien menace – defines the rest of the book. It’s a shame that some of the art isn’t in colour, but what we do get in colour is simply incredible. The full-page plates of Major Xander and Captain Carter are particularly worthy of note.

WAR OF THE WORLDS by Mike Brunton

WAR OF THE WORLDS by Mike BruntonFrom the future of BUG HUNTS, to the alternative past of WAR OF THE WORLDS, Brunton’s book basically presents an overview of HG Wells’ classic book. With the sub-title “The Anglo-Martian War of 1895”, this book sticks pretty firmly to the canon established by the original novel.

The main part of the book is a blow-by-blow account of the war. It’s put into historical context (focusing on the readiness of Anglo forces), which was interesting, but the main attraction here is an analysis of the Martian military. Much of this probably isn’t new (fan fiction concerning Wells’ book is a well-defined genre), but it’s very well written and I found it engaging. Early on, HG Wells even gets a nice in-universe reference for being “unpatriotic” and “pro-Martian”!

Again, the artwork needs a mention. As with BUG HUNTS, there are several uncoloured images, but the full-page pictures are really inspiring.

The verdict on Osprey Adventures

I’d highly recommend both BUG HUNTS and WAR OF THE WORLDS. In you have an interest in either of these universes, you’ll steam through these books. Both are well written, well illustrated and just plain fun. I hope that these books are representative of the rest of the Osprey Adventures line!

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