The Clone Empire
by Steven L. Kent
Cover Artist: Christian McGrath
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441019588
Date: 26 October 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Save the galaxy, get betrayed, just another day for Wayson Harris. After defeating the alien invasion, the clones were abandoned, and used for target practice. Wayson wants revenge on the Unified Authority, one problem though; he is trapped on a planet in a system without any jump capability. Well two problems, the citizens of Terraneau want all the clones gone. Wayson and company figure out how to escape and find the other clones who have been busy freeing planets and establishing their own Enlisted Man's Empire. The U.A. is infiltrating the clone empire and is now killing the leaders.
Just as the counter infiltration is kicking up, a new old threat returns. The return of the Avatari forces the U.A. to work with the clones they betrayed. The new threat is greater than even the first, planets burn, and whole worlds die. So Wayson must survive, find the Avatari, and prepare for the inevitable U.A. betrayal.
This is the sixth Clone book by Kent. Each Clone novel follows the adventures of the last Liberator clone, Wayson Harris, the only clone that knows he is a clone. Wayson tends to go in guns blazing, and things work out. Along the way his sometimes companion Freeman shows up to help and guide Wayson. The final revelation sets up the plot for the seventh installment of the series.
Author Kent writes a fast paced and interesting novel. His dialog is realistic and his universe is very well thought out and developed. The future that he creates is both scary and fascinating. There is still a great deal of potential for development and exploration in future novels. Although The Clone Empire is enjoyable, the series is starting to feel a bit like a formulaic Western. Not that Westerns are bad, but I am waiting for something new because I feel there is the potential for so much more here.
The clones of this universe are very intriguing. The death reaction to finding out that they are clones is a bit of genius, yet disconcerting. It plays upon the need each individual has to be different, even when they are the same. Let's face it, humans are this way too, the more we are the same the more we focus on the differences to prove that we aren't like everyone else, blinding ourselves to how similar we are to one another. In some respects clones are treated just like any other resource or good, used and then disposed of in a hopefully useful fashion. We know we spent a lot on that, so we should get some use out of it as we throw it out. Clones are an exploited minority.
Readers that enjoy the Clone series will likely also enjoy Old Man's War by John Scalzi or Jack Cambellís Lost Fleet series. The StarFist series by Dan Cragg and David Sherman follows a similar plot formula with normal marines rather than clones.