The Lazarus War Book 1: Artefact by Jamie Sawyer (book review).

March 9, 2016 | By | Reply More

The one major thing that really tends to nag me about military SF is that it tends to use Jim Cameron’s ‘Aliens’ colonial marines as its template. Jamie Sawyer is no exception with his opening novel, ‘The Lazarus War Book 1: Artefact’ where certain dialogue or words suddenly appears. To compound this, he also borrows imposing personality into successive bodies from Algis Budrys novel ‘Rogue Moon’, although teleportation isn’t used, crossed with Poul Anderson’s ‘Call Me Joe’ crossed with ‘Avatar’ as this military team involved is sent to investigate a mysterious artefact with up to a dozen bodies each which they can swap to carrying out their mission. Brings a whole new dimension to laying yourself on the line to achieve anything because a death of one body is not the end of your military career.


The colonial marine connection is kept up when certain traits come up as well. Spot the marine who sleeps while waiting for action instance.

Back to the story, the Krell (has Sawyer never watched ‘Forbidden Planet’? Perhaps he did but it’s never wise to use famous names) are the bad aliens and their starship, the Oregon, is destroyed leaving the medical unit ejected onto the planet. Captain Conrad Harris’ own spare bodies are destroyed but his unit’s bodies survives and they are brought to the camp of Dr. Kellerman, who doesn’t explain what happened to most of the two thousand people that went in with him to originally investigate the artefact and hadn’t been in contact which was why the military unit was sent in the first place. Hmm…that sounds awfully ‘Forbidden Planet’ like, too. With the Krell monitoring communications, something is definitely going on.

Kellerman forces Harris plus his team in their combat bodies to get through the Krell forces to take the key to unlock the artefact, using the survival of their original bodies to keep them in line as well as monitoring just in case they thought of coming back to attack him. Anything beyond that point is classified.

The book is done purely from the Harris first person perspective and so we aren’t given much insight as to what is going on elsewhere. It also brings up a problem about the Krell, who seem more like a cross between a certain set of xenomorphs and some of the inhabitants from the planet in ‘Pitch Black’. As they are supposed to be an intelligent space-faring race, you would have thought that they would be doing smart moves. However, as this is the first book, perhaps this can be remedied further down the line.

This doesn’t mean that this is a badly written book but I always tend to be a little wary of stories that depend so much on other sources than original ideas and if I spotted all these connections, then others will as well. No doubt if you’re into military SF, then you’ll feel well at home but each to our own safety blanket.

GF Willmetts

March 2016

(pub: Orbit/LittleBrown. 438 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-356-50546-6)

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Category: Books, Scifi

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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