A Matter for Men - War Against the Chtorr 1 Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Matter for Men - War Against the Chtorr 1

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.
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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.

The review of this Book prepared by J. Lee a Level 10 Peregrine Falcon scholar

Chapter Analysis of A Matter for Men - War Against the Chtorr 1

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 30%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 30%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 20% Tone of book    -   depressing/sad FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story If an invasion, from Earth/human POV:    -   fighting overt invasion (attacking aliens) War or Invasion    -   Yes Major kinds of combat:    -   guns Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   infantry soldier Age:    -   20's-30's


Earth setting:    -   near future (later in 21st century) Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   explicit references to deaths scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   a fair amount of scientific explanation How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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David Gerrold Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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