Humanity faces an unusual form of alien invasion: the importation by parties unseen of a more evolved (and thus more efficient) ecology. A Matter for Men is the first novel in what is supposed to be a seven-volume series, The War Against the Chtorr, by David Gerrold. However, Gerrold has repeatedly missed announced publication dates after the fourth book, A Season for Slaughter, was released in 1993, and the great majority of fans have given up hope of seeing the series finished or even just continued.
Humanity is decimated by seven major plagues. Civilization doesn't totally collapse (as in most other apocalyptic works), and gradually rebuilds itself. It only slowly becomes clear that this is merely the prelude, though, when more and more strange new plants and animals are discovered. Much more highly evolved than their terrestrial counterparts, they outcompete their rivals and take over various ecological niches. Among the most terrifying are semi-intelligent, giant, worm-like creatures - killing machines that emit roars that sound like "Chtorr", thus giving a name to the planet from which they come and to the unseen enemy. However, knowledge of the invasion is kept from the general public.
Jim McCarthy is a young man who is drafted and assigned to a US Special Forces unit because he has had a couple of years of college biology. His task is to learn about the enemy, up close at first hand, and ultimately how best to fight them. Duke, his commander, has to be very patient, as Jim makes mistakes, but he also gets specimens and discovers useful things. This is enough to get him sent to Denver.
There Jim learns that the United States is so distrusted that many other nations don't believe the Chtorrans are a threat, or even think that the Americans are using it as an excuse to rearm and regain power (the United States accepted having the army disbanded rather than engage in an all-out nuclear war). He is also contacted by an ultra top-secret government organization led by Colonel Ira Wallachstein because, while he is a bit of a clumsy nuisance, he's also a smart troublemaker. While he's in the Special Forces by mistake (due to the disruption caused by the plagues), he has shown that he is an asset, so (after thorough evaluation) Wallachstein answers his questions about the "Uncle Ira group" and formally enlists him.
One of his first tasks is to stand guard when the hostile, suspicious delegates are shown a captured worm. The worm breaks out of its cage and kills dozens in a killing frenzy before Jim is finally able to stop it (it collapses on him). When he wakes up in the hospital, he is debriefed by a member of the Uncle Ira group, who confirms his suspicion that he had been set up to be killed, along with the obstructive disbelievers. Despite this, Jim remains committed to fighting the Chtorrans as part of the group.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's a compelling, well thought out, original story line.
Best scene in story:
I wouldn't call it a favorite scene, but it certainly is memorable (in a horrifying way) when Jim is taken to witness a feeding of the captive worm. Worms will only eat live prey, so stray dogs are brought in. Sickos (including the woman who brought Jim there) pay to watch.
Opinion about the main character:
Jim McCarthy is rather annoying, somewhat immature and whiny, but, as the series goes along, he does sort of grow on you.