The Dohani War
by Martin Kerharo
Translation by Donald Webb
Published by Bewildering Press

When I agreed to review "The Dohani War" I was told that the publisher felt it was one of the finest books they'd ever published. They said it would remind me of Heinlein's "Starship Troopers." That was high praise and when I began reading this novel I could see why.

Sharply written, with a streamlined prose, it jumps right into the action as a human assault team prepares to board an alien outpost. We're at war with the monstrous Dohani and our hero (Lieutenant Dexter Zimski) is a grunt in command of a multi-cultural squad.

It's familiar stuff and as I slipped into the first few pages I could already feel a three-day stubble growing on my chin, taste the worn out butt of a cigar clenched between my teeth, and sense the weight of a 70-70 plasma rifle resting comfortably on my hip. Boo Ya! Let's kick some alien butt!

Or maybe not.

The truth is this novel makes a sharp left turn halfway into the first chapter and doesn't go where I was expecting. Instead, it becomes an intelligent and thoughtful exploration of one of the oldest questions in Science Fiction. Sorry, not going to tell you what that question is but I will tell you that despite there being no Dreadnaughts exploding in space, no laser cannons raining death upon us, and no hordes of rampaging aliens, the novel is intelligent, interesting, and kept me turning the pages. Almost from the beginning I wanted to know what happened next.

The story is told in the first person, with the author trying hard not to get in the way. So, it reads a little like a memoir. Zimski tells us much of what he's seeing or experiencing with no "pulled back" view that allows us to step into the minds of the other characters. But since the story is fairly intimate, (there is a love story) that's not a real problem. There are times when the story seems a bit rushed because major events are summarized. That's a pity because there are items about which I really wanted to know more. But again, I found that forgivable.

As a bonus, there are several articles pinned to the end of the novel that were written to discuss specific elements. Consider them the literary equivalent of DVD extras and a chance to really explore Mr. Kerharo's vision and logic.

All in all I enjoyed "The Dohani War." I did have to put down my 70-70 plasma rifle but I got to pick up my sense of wonder and I think the trade was worth it. I hope you do too.


I just found out that the novel will be offered for free. It doesn't get better than that.

Reviewed by Arthur Sanchez
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