On an average day in the year 2020, the earth is decimated by a race of insect-like aliens called Saurons. These creatures are intent on enslaving the remaining humans and forcing them to build temple-like structures that they deceitfully claim that they must do in accordance with their religious beliefs. After the temples are complete, they claim that they will then leave to continue their journey in space. In reality these structures are birthing chambers where a new generation of Saurons will be born, and the old generation will die. Because the Saurons will be vulnerable to attack during this process, they intend to kill all but a handful of their newly-acquired slaves as soon as the structures are complete. However, several groups of humans have escaped slavery and are fighting against the alien captors. These groups learn the truth about the so-called temples and mount a united resistance against the Saurons. Among the resistance fighter are a group of ex-military, a group of black people who escaped from a slave train, and a group of semi-autonomous slaves who are assigned as bodyguards to the president of the puppet government established by the Saurons.
Dietz's book touches issues of human caste systems, racial prejudices, and the human need for freedom in a repressive setting. It encourages the reader to consider hate, and why it is directed at individuals. However, this aspect of the book does not go deep enough into the subject to make the reader contemplate personal biases or evoke strong emotion on the subject.
The plot is fairly well organized and though it runs quite smoothly, there are one or two dead ends and ambiguities, the most blatant of which being a sexual encounter between a leader of a white supremacist group and his wife who has been assigned to him by the group's supreme commander. The woman is never mentioned again in the book and the whole section is gratuitous in its sexual nature, adds nothing to the plot, and should have been left out of the book. Another problem arises because the reproductive process of the Saurons is poorly conceived. Each individual of the race dies in the process of birthing its first and only offspring. Under this scenario, Sauron deaths prior to the birthing process would deplete the race until it dwindled to nothing. Because Saurons can never have more than one baby and die in the process, the species could have never multiplied to the population level assumed in the book.
Overall, this book earns a moderate recommendation on the merits of its vivid descriptions, captivating action scenes, and its interesting story line. But its weaknesses certainly leave it lacking as a contender for the title of all-time best sci-fi adventure.
This report prepared by Jonathan Guymon
Ace, Sep 2001, 21.65, 368 pp.
In 2020 in what seemed like a blink of an eye, New York City, Moscow, and Beijing were easily destroyed. Not much more than a weekend past and the invaders conquered the earth. More than three billion humans died starting on what became known as Black Friday as the alien Sauron race, using superior weaponry, easily win the war. Any human who survived the weekend of terror has a struggle ahead as slaves of the mighty Sauren race.
UN Security Officer Jack Manning ends his vacation once he learns that the nations of the world lost to the brutally efficient Saurons. The leadership Zin faction of the conquerors have no mercy, immediately directing their Kon soldiers to kill any opposition no matter how slight. In that environment, a captured Jack labors in the mines of his enemy before being reassigned to a massive temple building construction project. He patiently waits to escape, but the opportunity never seems to surface.
DEATHDAY, the first tale of William Deitz's alien invasion series, is an exciting non-stop action thriller though most of the book occurs after the Saurons win. The fast-paced story line is exciting and the insight into the Sauron caste system is cleverly intermingled into the plot so readers begin to understand the conquerors. This is what makes this a must read for sub-genre fans. William C Dietz provides more than just an opening gamut of a military science fiction thriller along the lines of V. He provides a deep social and psychological study of humanity and the Saurons that make the invasion seem devastatingly real and leave breathless readers waiting for EARTHRISE.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner