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Sounds like a joke: An interstellar army intelligence officer, a giant alien praying mantis, and an agnostic chaplain's assistant walk into an escape pod...

In the end, a divine miracle causes the alien queen to go against her race's centuries-long policy of destroying all other races they come in contact with. This is wrapped in a layer of plausible deniability by the author, but is clearly the point of the story. Unfortunately, across millennia of human conquest, no genocidal invasion has been stopped because of the spiritual richness of the doomed civilization intrigues the invaders. "Let's make friends and stop this war" works for children's stories where "war" is a stand-in for fighting on the playground.

The story is well written, and there are enough different layers to motivations to make it interesting, but in the end, the actions are implausible and the setup too contrived. (I am being harsh, but I am looking for the best, no judging on a scale of 1 to 10. It was good enough that I read it carefully all the way through.)

Kudos to brad for making the army officer an Egyptian female instead of white heterosexual male, but he loses any credit for the unseemly emphasis on the fact that she is an Egyptian Christian, not a Muslim.

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divisionsandprecisions

October 2015

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