Hi Everyone – Tom Jurassic back here today on the Jurassic Park Podcast, and today we are talking all things Primitive War again.
For those of you who have been here for a while, you may remember my review of the original Primitive War novel written by Ethan Pettus, which you can read here.
The Hunting of Stalker Force is an anthology story set between the end of the Primitive War novel, and the upcoming sequel, and it explores how the members of ‘Vulture Squad’ have gone their separate ways – with the characters of Andrei, Xavier and General Jericho returning amongst others as we once again return to the jungles of Northern Vietnam to re-discover the dinosaurs which have since been contained in a desperate attempt by the US Military. Construction teams maintaining the perimeter fences are under attack from vicious packs of Utah Raptors – and there have been breaches which have allowed Dinosaurs out into the world. Now, Stalker Force must desperately hut down and eradicate the last of the Utah Raptor packs which exist within this North Vietnamese valley – before they then begin the hunt for the rest of the animals in the wider world.
This story does a really good job of tackling a bold new dynamic – completely flipping the relationship that we see between the dinosaurs and the humans within the first Primitive War novel. In The Hunting of Stalker Force, the US army are mobilising kill squads – meaning that, for the first time, they are the real threat to the dinosaurs – with concepts such as carpet bombing constantly looming overhead. This is an interesting parallel to the real Vietnam conflict – where lethal weaponry like napalm saw frequent, and often questionable, usage throughout the time soldiers were deployed. I really like how the idea here is to terminate a threat within the ecosystem – essentially forcing the ecosystem to fit itself within what already exists. The Utahraptors have been identified as apex predators – and so, Stalker Force are attempting to terminate them as they are the biggest threat to the ecosystem which the dinosaurs have just been introduced into.
There are lots of great sequences in this novel – and I don’t want to spoil too many of them, so I’m going to limit myself to describing two here. The first sequence lets us follow the men of Stalker Force as they pursue a pair of Quetzalcoatlus who have been dominating the skies above the valley the story is set in – preventing the use of Helicopters and aerial ordinance to support operations within the valley. Stalker Force are given a very simple but very brutal task – make these creatures extinct again. This whole sequence plays out in an interesting way and really does tug at your heart strings – as you realise this last great animal is terrified and is attempting to desperately escape its fate. Not only does this echo the bitter hopelessness that our human character’s experience within the first novel – it is a perfect way to explore the very real threat of extinction which many animals face today. The animal is ultimately cornered in a cave, and after putting up a vicious fight, we have a poignant moment where our characters realise that they have just made this beautiful animal extinct once more.
The second sequence I would like to touch on is when our characters are fighting to herd a group of herbivores within the valley – preventing them from nearing a damaged segment of the fence which they could break through. The sequence here is thick with both Triceratops and Parasaurolophus – hitting so many incredible Jurassic Park vibes. I love the deep descriptions for the Parasaurs and their crests which we get here. Here, the characters are attempting to herd the animals away and prevent a stampede when suddenly Cryolophosaurus leap into the fray – adding a tense dynamic to the sequence whilst simultaneously adding dinosaurs which were not featured too heavily within the original novel. The tension here is thick – and it’s a very well described sequence which really captures the sense of desperation and pace which I think Ethan wanted to communicate here. Without spoiling it, the sequence ends in a fun way which I don’t think you will see coming – and it does a lot to really add to the overall characterisation of these creatures throughout Ethan’s books.
These are just two of many fantastic sequences which are prevalent throughout the Hunting of Stalker Force. As we have come to expect from the Primitive War franchise at this point, this is an incredibly brutal yet beautiful romp into a world filled with dinosaurs. I really adore the depth here – as Ethan goes into so much detail with both the animals and their behaviours, but also the brutality of the sequences here – something which was incredibly prominent throughout the first Primitive War novel. Whilst we get more time to breathe and appreciate the natural environment more within this novel, Ethan still manages to recapture those key beats from the first novel – creating a piece which feels consistent and well-grounded within the universe he took the time to build within the first book. It’s a fantastic book-end to the Vietnam portion of the Primitive War tale – opening us up to a much greater world which looks to be filling with dinosaurs. This gets me incredibly excited for the sequel – which could be something akin to a The Lost World capture story.
If you would like to check out The Hunting of Stalker Force, you can pick it up here.
Make sure you also join the Facebook group for the latest updates on the development of the sequel to the first Primitive War novel.
[Thanks to Ethan for sending me a copy of the novel to make this review possible – I had a blast revisiting the universe of Primitive War!]