Icehouse by Michael O’Reilly & Robert Brooks – Short Story Review [Eroldren]
Eroldren continues his spotlight review over Blizzard’s Heart of the Swarm short story series.
“In this dangerous situation, things are gruesome in the Icehouse and its only about to get grittier and entertaining. Surely to become a fan favorite.” – The Founding Fields
Apparently the ongoing wave of Blizzard short stories have moved away from the current format in which featured a specific zerg unit of some kind and were we have instead a story which has been entirely written to be dedicated terran only. I thought initially that “Icehouse” would be the sore thumb in the overall lot of Heart of the Swarm‘s short stories since all the previous entries were promoting the nightmarish Zerg Swarm in some factor… Except, I couldn’t ever more glad proven wrong; this is one of StarCraft‘s best short stories!
Warden Kejora knows that what the Dominion needs on the frontlines more than anything else is a steady supply of stone-cold killers… and he’s more than happy to supply them. In his Icehouse training facility, the dregs of society are transformed into some of the most efficient killing machines the galaxy has ever seen. But what would happen if an innocent man were to be put through the grueling regimen that produces the Dominion’s Reapers? Can this man survive with his humanity intact, or will he become just another victim of the Icehouse?
Before the short story came the Icehouse was a little infamous place in StarCraft’s expanded universe and only bare tidbits were known about its existence plus a manga story done by David Gerrold titled “Fear the Reaper” found in the fourth and final StarCraft: Frontline volume which featured a curious account of reapers. Except that one hold’s pretty much nothing in comparison to their grittier portrayal set inside their home turf. Here we actually get to see into inner workings of the Reaper Corps, the Dominion corrupt, and the scum they bring to this training installation who are given a fighting chance to serve for the Dominion Armed Forces and not be executed or join the ranks of resoced (AKA brainwashed) marines.
In regards to the story as a whole, there was honestly really not anything at all which I found myself bothered in the overall story of “Icehouse” aside from having a nagging suspicion as the plot developed a and brought up mystery question. Although I couldn’t quite figure out it first I’m suspecting that each author decided to try to handle the two main characters – Gabriel Feltz and Warden Kejora – as two distinctive personalities: one the strangely misfortunate but adaptive victim, the other being a devious Dominion official. If that’s the case, it worked rather seamlessly I think.
As for commenting on the rest, I’ll won’t try to spoil to much aside from repeating this world was dark and gritty, we had an entertaining cast, enough action was abundant and every page I read kept me intrigued to understand this ruthless place and see what would happen next to our characters. And those mentioned factors I just said were some of the important components in which I think drew me into the StarCraft franchises so many years ago and favor terrans somewhat in multiplayer. Had “Icehouse” thrown in some psionics into the picture it could had been even more so amazing!
Anyway my point is “Icehouse” was most definitely a worthwhile read on my part and I’m sure that you’ll be left entertained as well. Go read it now! After all, the entire range of Blizzard’s online fiction are free to read on their respective Battle.net sites.
Until next time, fear the reaper man!
Overall Verdict: 9.5/10