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Summary

We were fighting on the wrong side of a war we couldn't win. And that was the good news.

The Ruhar hit us on Columbus Day. There we were, innocently drifting along the cosmos on our little blue marble, like the Native Americans in 1492. Over the horizon came ships of a technologically advanced, aggressive culture, and BAM! There went the good old days, when humans got killed only by each other. So, Columbus Day. It fits.

When the morning sky twinkled again, this time with Kristang starships jumping in to hammer the Ruhar, we thought we were saved. The UN Expeditionary Force hitched a ride on Kristang ships to fight the Ruhar wherever our new allies thought we could be useful. So, I went from fighting with the US Army in Nigeria to fighting in space. It was lies, all of it. We shouldn't even be fighting the Ruhar; they aren't our enemy. Our allies are.

I'd better start at the beginning.

©2016 Craig Alanson (P)2016 Podium Publishing

What members say

Average customer ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Clearly I'm in a minority but...

Don't get this review wrong, I did generally enjoy this book but I don't think it is the 5 star gem other reviewers seem to agree on. The idea is great and the mix of humour is fairly unique given that this is not the focus of the book, this is a really difficult balance to achieve, so the author deserves kudos for the attempt. However the characters are shallow and the plot is simplistic; motivation for uber-intelligent species to be conducting a galaxy encompassing war is never explored and the aforementioned humour is school-boy at best. Coupled with a overly large dollop of American jingoism and you're left with a basic if enjoyable yarn to waste a few hours on but not a 5 star listen. I doubt I'll continue with the series.

56 of 67 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic start to what I hope is a great series

This was an impulse buy and I was a little worried at first. I needn't be though as it was gripping from the start. It's well written and easy to listen to, R.C Bray was as usual, a spot on choice for the narrator. The book has a great change part way through that really sent the story in another direction that was very well delivered. Overall it's a great easy listen. There's some obvious ideas liberated from other sci-fi greats, both written and televised but it works really well.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Excellent, original and narrated by a master

RC Bray is reason enough to buy an audiobook. Brilliant performance of an original and entertaining book. Need the next book now!

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Heinlein or Adams? Maybe pick one and run with it

What disappointed you about Columbus Day?

The book is written from the perspective of a Sergeant in the US Army. So far, so Heinlein (Starship Troopers). Indeed, the book contains all the gung-ho Americana you want, if that's your thing (it's not my thing). There's very little hard sci-fi here - by limiting us to our Sergeant's perspective we're never allowed/invited to grasp any of the mind-blowing changes that alien contact might have initiated, and I was left dissapointed by the limiting of perspective.

However, the abrupt shift in tone halfway through the book (the character 'Skippy' is introduced) is jarring. Suddenly we're in Douglas Adams territory - being invited to laugh at ourselves as a species. Humour is really difficult to pull off (Adams was a master) and Alanson frankly isn't all that funny - obvious gags about Facebook and Cat videos don't really cut it. However, it's not really either element of the book that really bothered me, it was the rather crude splicing of what felt like two different ideas together. Write a serious book about a soliders' experience of cutting edge war in space, or a lighthearted satire of humanity when shown to be idiotic in the face of greater intelligence. I think it takes more skill than Alanson has to splice the two, if it were even possible.

Has Columbus Day put you off other books in this genre?

There are usually compromises to be made when reading sci-fi, which is frustrating but it wouldn't put me off entirely.

What about R.C. Bray’s performance did you like?

The narration is really good. I totally bought R.C Bray's characterisation of Col. Joe. Bray really brought our narrator to life. In fact, I think he rescued what is a pretty poor book.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Columbus Day?

Honestly, I would have suggested to Alanson that he decided what sort of book he wanted to write and stick with it. There are two interesting ideas for books here - one hard-boiled military tale in the tradition of Heinlein et al, and another in the tradition of Adams etc. This book is a great illustration of why a consistent tone is so vital.

Any additional comments?

I'm genuinely baffled by the glowing reviews of this book.

17 of 24 people found this review helpful

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fantastic book

great story. great characters. great narrator. i love RC Bray.
Craig Alanson is my new favourite writer

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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FANTASTIC!

Great start to an amazing series! R.C Bray is amazing as usual!!!!
Love it and want more!!!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good fun

Think Independence Day meets Star Trek.

Of course, when an alien star ship turns up in earth's atmosphere, followed closely by a second alien race, you just know it's all not going to work out in Earth's favour. Our little earth-weapons clearly aren't up to the task! Naturally, the cunning humans' plan is to simply nick the other lots' ships, weapons etc et.... I've totally overly simplified the plot with that statement - but that's the feel of the book.

It's good fun, great narration, and I've downloaded the next book in the series for when I need some light relief. The adjective "jaunty" seems to fit the bill. Onwards then, for a merry jaunt through the universe.....


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Patience is rewarded

This really is worth sticking with until chapter 10. The narration is spot on. I was unsure at first but am now hooked.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great listen

I was a little sceptical when I ordered this book after coming off the back of B V Larsons’s undying mercenaries series but I can honestly say Craig Alanson has the imagination and storytelling abilities to match BVL coupled with a very appealing sense of humour.
I have already ordered book 2 in the series

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Mildly amusing but not really my kind of si-fi .

I prefer a little less conversation....a little more action. I probably won't go onto book 2

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary Glenn
  • 27-06-17

Sci Fi I didn't know I wanted

I usually over analyze anything I read or watch, not wanting to waste my time on dribble or uninteresting content. After spending too much time sorting through different audio books, I settled on the Expeditionary Forces series as it appeared interesting and is, well, a series. If I enjoyed it, that would postpone the excruciating task of finding another book.
I am ecstatic that I made this choice. As much as the story is engaging, the narration is as good or better than any I've listened to. Even sound effects are not needed to add anything. Very well done.
A little more science fiction detail wouldn't hurt but does not detract from the enjoyment of this writing.
The humor throughout was unexpected but welcome and well done. Not found very often in well written Sci Fi.
Off to start the second book!

112 of 116 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • 29-06-17

Brilliant, Funny, Clever... a Sci Fi must have

It’s hard to know where to start when describing this instant modern classic. I’ve loved Sci Fi since I was yay high…I cut my teeth on space operas like the works of EE. Doc Smith. This is the next generation of space opera and it’s fabulous. It’s also quite funny in many places. It’s action packed but doesn’t feel silly like a lot of action fiction does. The plot includes dueling alien races of giant hamsters and lizards, faster than light travel and a snarky deus ex machina artificial Intelligence the size of a can of coke. Sounds ridiculous but is actually compelling, weirdly credible and wildly entertaining. I’m already most the way through book two which puts me close to a third of the way through a 50 hour epic. If you love hard Sci Fi, if you are a Trekki or a Star Wars fan you will lap this up.

78 of 81 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christine D.
  • 07-07-17

Slapstick Meets Sci-Fi

Would you consider the audio edition of Columbus Day to be better than the print version?

Yes, the reader gave a fantastic performance.

What was most disappointing about Craig Alanson’s story?

Skippy....just....Skippy. And how everything after that worked out conveniently fine for our heroes. Hardly any real conflicts because the soda can went behind the scenes and magically solved the issues they were having. Roses and rainbows after that.

Which scene was your favorite?

Some of the interactions between Skippy and Joe were entertaining; Skippy discovers the internet.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Chuckles, but nothing extreme.

Any additional comments?

The story stopped being good after Skippy showed up....think, Jar Jar Binks with a brain. After that, it felt like a comedy sitcom like "Alf", goofy alien saves the day. And the condescending nature of the beer can reminded me of the little green alien that showed up once in an episode of the Flintstones..."dumb dumb"... I likely won't be buying the next book in the series as long as Skippy's around to conveniently fix everything before anyone gets hurt. The story becomes predictable...oh no, lizards!..oh, wait...never mind, Skippy will just blow up their ship from the inside and 100 light years away. No need to panic. Rinse, repeat.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 04-01-17

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT

CHEESEBURGERS
A few months ago I VOLUNTOLD you that BOB would have legions of fans. Now I am telling you this will be the next book to hit number one in Sci-Fi Contemporary. This book has science galore, comedy galore, aliens galore and space battles. To say I love it would be an IMPLIED DUH, but than OVERKILL IS UNDER RATED.

YOU GOT SOME SPLAINING TO DO LUCY
The book is over 16 hours long, and Jim The Impatient listened to all 16+ hours and was entertained all the way. Alanson has great timing and knows how to keep a story from going stale. For example, just when I thought the book was going to enter a shoot-em up phase and become boring, we are introduced to SKIPPY, an A-HOLE AI, who is witty and funny. There is something here for all Sci-Fi fans. Nothing is really new, but a lot of the good old stuff is used. For instance there are ELDERS, CLIENT RACES, PATRONS, ANCIENT ARIFACTS AND THE COLLECTIVE.

EMBRACE THE SUCK
I am not saying this is my favorite, just that it will hit number one. My favorites in the category and in order are, The Martian, Ready Player One, Bob and than this book. Some might roll their eyes at the serendipity of finding Skippy and all that he does to get them out of trouble, but if you can get past that you will love this.

SCREW ONE SHEEP
I have been listening to books since the cassette days. I have heard lots of great narrators. I don't believe I have ever heard one grow in their job as well as Bray. He started out good, with his great voice, but what he has put into the last couple of books, I have listened to has just blown my mind. Based on the last two books, he read for me, I would say he has to be my favorite.

ALPHA MIKE FOXTROT

478 of 534 people found this review helpful

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  • Victor
  • 07-05-17

Think "Farscape" not "Star Trek"

What made the experience of listening to Columbus Day the most enjoyable?

Great story of a young soldier from rural Maine that who's life is changed radically when aliens show up in his little home town. The story becomes a little ridiculous when he meets an super-intelligent alien AI but its well written and fun so it's easily forgiven. However, by book two, it starts to get a little redundant. Regardless, I am very much looking forward to book 3 and beyond.

What other book might you compare Columbus Day to and why?

I would compare it to the TV show "Farscape" the sometimes ridiculous and some times funny sci-fi show. It even includes wormholes...

Which character – as performed by R.C. Bray – was your favorite?

Sippy is my favorite character... He's an "a**hole". lol

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • shonte
  • 29-06-17

funniest series I've heard so far

anxiously waiting for 4th book to be released, 1st 2 chapters are boring, but the gut busting laughter is non-stop and worth the wait from then on

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • C. Hartmann
  • 17-12-16

Well...THAT was Certainly a Lot of Fun !!

At 16 hours, this is actually like reading two separate books -- the first is a pretty well done military "grunts in space" story. It is a notch above the usual because of the narration which is just great. But at about the halfway point, it transforms to a space opera-type of tongue-in-cheek story that is somewhere between Redshirts and Ready Player One -- inside jokes, clever asides and a much more self-aware story....and did I mention the narrator???? I'm not going to give away the story -- which is not really rocket science (sorry) -- but I think you will very much enjoy.

97 of 117 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for W. Keith Withey
  • W. Keith Withey
  • 27-06-17

Fun SciFi best since "Hitchhikers Guide...."

Serious but fun and Joe's encounter with "Skippy" the AI made me laugh out loud! Clever writing by Craig Alanson, and Joes character is brilliant and funny yet dead serious. Brings me back to the tough, wisecracking characters in WWII movies. Joe is smarter than he gives himself credit for, and is masterfully narrated by R.C. Bray. What a hoot!!!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matthew
  • Matthew
  • 22-02-17

A Book to Lighten Up the Mood

Any additional comments?

This is one of those shallow, entertaining on-the-rails rollercoaster books I love. The whole point is escapism and laughs. Sorry, but there isn't any real character development, giant allegories, or any of that silly "literature" stuff here.

What we do have is one poor combat grunt that keeps ending up in the worst possible place at the worst possible times. Each time he ends up there good ol' Lady Luck comes around and beats him with a baseball bat filled with love and barbwire. Plucky plans against different enemy alien shenanigans and a fateful meeting with a uproarious lonely male (weird right?) AI ensues. The AI even admits that he's a jerk.

So if you want a hilarious adventure romp on easy mode, pick this book up, I mean it is like Old Man's War or Willful Child. If not, go pick up I dunno, 2001 or something.

35 of 42 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nicole
  • 22-06-17

Started a little slow...then I was hooked

There's a lot of background information and explaining in the beginning for the storyline to make sense. It started a little slow for me, but then I couldn't stop.

If you like plausible sci-fi mixed with adventure this is a great choice.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful