I just finished reading Crusade last night, the second book in Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen series. It still hits that oddly specific sweet spot I mentioned before, with alt-history technological bootstrapping and idealized social dynamics being the name of the game. I believe I referred to Into the Storm as a strange mix of Stirling and Flint, but I’ve come to a better understanding of these books’ oddly specific conflux of flavors. To envision Anderson’s style, strip away most of Stirling‘s semi-religious influences and replace what remains with faith in Honor and Doing What’s Right, convert Flint‘s cheerfully proletariat bonhomie into something just a bit more hierarchical, and toss in Weber or Ringo‘s blood-spattered military adventurism. Now you’ve got a good approximation of Anderson. (Just to be clear, I don’t expect any Oh John Ringo No! moments).
This second book in the series sticks with the same characters we met in the first one, and expands the cast slightly to give us a better perspective of the foes our protagonists face. The setting remains the same, and the various characters on the ship are still wonderful to follow around. I still sometimes felt like I was reading about a Chopper’s gang from Apocalypse World, and the sometimes aggressive, sometimes malicious pranking and posturing of the crew is reminiscent of my own experiences of living with a large group of other young men. People are convincingly selfish and obsessive about their various areas of responsibility, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing the gradual induction of non-human characters into the ship’s crew and watching how they adapt to their duties and adopt the mannerisms of the other characters around them.
Ok, speaking of adapting, I need to mention something that I brought up last time as a concern; Anderson very carefully carries through on representing stereotypical 1940s gender roles, and I found that a bit off-putting (not the accuracy, but the roles and expectations themselves). Fortunately, since the American humans aren’t the only culture in the book, there are groups of characters who aren’t bound by those gender-strictures. But Crusade doesn’t look much deeper into the disconnect between the human conceptions of propriety and the conceptions of their new Lemurian allies. I said that I’d be dissatisfied if that didn’t change… and it didn’t really change, and I am dissatisfied. At the same time, the topic has certainly been discussed (briefly, or as a source of disconcertion) by the characters even if not much has come of it thus far, and it looks like there may be more change coming down the line. My guess would be that such change will inevitably be lower priority for the story than the themes of military and honor, but I’ll keep reading and keep hoping that the change will come some point soon. At a guess, the alteration of gender expectations will come about as a fait accompli as more of the humans die and are replaced by Lemurians. Go figure.
Those quibbles aside, I’m still enjoying the series. If you liked the sound of the style amalgamation I described above, you’ll probably enjoy it too.