The Ghost Brigades

by John Scalzi
Series: Old Man's War 2
Reviewed date: 2013 Sep 10
Rating: 4
384 pages
cover art

The Ghost Brigades is nearly as good as Old Man's War. Scalzi takes us into the mind of a Special Forces soldier, Jared Dirac. The Special Forces soldiers are artificial intelligences planted in cloned bodies. Special Forces are human, but augmented and enhanced. Their advanced, super-human bodies and their complete integration with their BrainPals allow them to train and act together as a unit--the entire platoon seeing, hearing, acting, thinking in concert. They are humanity's best weapon in a hostile galaxy. They are humanity's greatest fear: that being simply human is not enough in this galaxy, that the Special Forces are the beginning of the end for regular, non-engineered mankind.

Jared Dirac is not just Special Forces. He is special. His mind was not seeded with artificial intelligence, but with the brain pattern of a traitor. Charles Boutin, a top scientist, defected to one of the many alien races hostile to mankind. The Colonial Union hopes that by creating Jared, they can unlock Boutin's memories and perhaps discover where Boutin went. It doesn't work. Jared has no special memories.

Jared trains and fights along with the rest of the Special Forces, being watched specifically by Jane Sagan (who you may remember from Old Man's War. Years later, Jared's memory is triggered: he begins to remember things about Boutin. Not everyone trusts Jared--after all, if he is Boutin, he may turn traitor like Boutin--but they have no choice. Using his memories, they track down Boutin.

Oh, and in the meantime, they foil a plot by three alien races--the Obin, the Rraey, and the Enesha--to gang up on the humans. Boutin, it turns out, had been manipulating these events in order to destroy the Colonial Union, which he believes is an oppressive, warmongering government that is actively making things worse for humanity. He is not wholly wrong, but for now, the Colonial Union is victorious.

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