Command Performance by Alex Irvine – Short Story Review [Eroldren]

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Eroldren continues his spotlight review over Blizzard’s Heart of the Swarm short story series.

“Even though Drenthe is an eccentric one, he’s a character that is without a doubt someone fascinating to follow as the story of his next holovid unfolds.” – The Founding Fields

I don’t know about you but I’ve honestly haven’t had any major dislikes with this ongoing series Blizzard been cranking out weekly. Except for some minor nitpicking it feels rather a solid series Blizzard organized together and I’m enthusiastic that Blizzard might decide to keep on pushing it onwards for months to come. Even though a change in their release schedule could be altered into a biweekly rate – rotating between Warcraft and StarCraft – I do hope they can expanded the StarCraft universe at a steady enough rate through other freelance writers like Gavin Fyhrie-Jurgens or Matt Maxwell beforehand.

Let’s get onwards with “Command Performance” at any rate. We have another freelance writer coming into the StarCraft scene and this time it’s  somebody who surprisingly has quite a bit of work under his belt: Alex Irvine, Locus award-winning author of A Scattering of Jades and various titles within licensed IPs such as Transformers, the Marvel Universe, Star Wars, and Supernatural.

At first, notable holo director Ottmar Drenthe balks at the idea of creating an advertisement for arms manufacturer Axiom Ordnance’s latest product . . . but when he realizes the assignment’s unlikely opportunity to create art, he is more than willing to become part of the story he was hired to tell. After all, he is Drenthe.

Through the eyes of Drenthe we see into the world of making a holovid behind-the-scenes. Already that one subject matter that’s something bewildering to read about in the StarCraft universe. Holovids are something in terran society that’s been barely explained aside ambiguous references or highlighted names on Wings of Liberty map doodads making plays with real life Earth movies.

Like Overlords just beforehand, who could have expected a StarCraft story would be through to be explored from this unique perspective? I didn’t. Something more associated to firing guns, military forces, psionics and alien battles on the other hand yes.  Not to say that first half of generalize outlooks doesn’t have its own elements close to general idea which is represented through Axiom Ordnance as the blurb states. From Drenthe’s POV we see the scale of their and a developing conflict that adds more to the unraveling plotline alongside the wrongdoings and duplicity of our good o’l Dominion corrupted. Aside a couple minor plotline developments I anticipated would happen in some variation “Command Performance” for the most part Alex Irvine kept me wondering and enthralled as each page brought new things into the picture.

On a final note I want to talk a little bit more about our lead character who is Drenthe. Yes, I recognized his money-grubbing nature and somewhat out for himself that’ll fund his holovids. However, combining that attitude and some the character changes he underwent while on Buriki V, and plus the quirky manner of being an illeist – speaking in third-person – I find him becoming something else: a new favorite character. Whereas most short stories are largely written as one-offs that was meant for just that one particular story and there’s no real expectation to see its characters ever again we sometimes instead discover ourselves liking a newcomer who we simply love and we want more of them. That said I think Drenthe just might be one of those characters in a small handful for StarCraft (from the short stories at least at any least) who could make potential comebacks that readers will surely enjoy seeing. At least that’s the reception I’ve gathered from Battle.net posts. Whether it be a sequel of some sort or in a different medium such as a novel or easter eggs found in-game we’ll dig it. After all, he is Drenthe.

Until next time,

Overall Verdict: 9/10

Eroldren

Eroldren, a SFF follower of both tie-in media and original works, enjoys rereading books frequently. So be warned, he might bring out sometimes his share of older and heavy duty titles alongside the newcomers.

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