Science Fiction T2: Infiltrator

I'm a big fan of Terminator, as evidenced by my Terminator: Future Fate D20 Modern supplement, so it was just a matter of time before I got around to reading this. My wife bought it for me two Christmases ago, but I never have time to read…that is, until my job sent me on several plane trips around the U.S. Suddenly, I had a lot of time on my hands. I read T2: Infiltrator in one day.

Having seen Terminator 3 already, I can see where some of the ideas in Infiltrator made it into the script. This is a good thing, as S.M. Stirling attempted to incorporate all aspects of the movie as well as incorporate the character's voices. In fact, Stirling did such a good job that his characterizations reminded me of the Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zahn.

The best thing about Infiltrator is that it picks up where the movie left off, letting the characters do what they would logically do after saving the future; in this case, hiding out in Paraguay. Sarah and her son John Connor, now 16, have a touching relationship in a crazy world. Then in steps a spitting image of a Terminator: Dieter Von Rossbach, a retired secret agent who just happens to also be hiding out in Paraguay.

Stirling checks off box after box in explaining the Terminator movies. Wonder where the Terminator gets its accent? Curious as to how Cyberdyne manages to continues its research? Wonder how Terminators think? It's all here.

Our arch villain, the man-eating I-950, is a cybernetic gorgeous blonde. Armed with a multitude of Skynet's limitless information, her own seduction techniques, and the know-how to create other Terminators, and I-950 is a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, that force is handily defeated in the conclusion, effectively ruining a really cool bad guy (gal?). It's almost as if Stirling had to stretch out the plot to two more books, so the poor I-950 had to be sacrificed.

Nevertheless, this is not your traditional action sequel; Stirling takes time with everyone from the Dysons who deal with Miles' death to Sarah struggling with her nightmares and alcoholism to John just trying to be a teenager. This is a smart book with big ideas in a heavily commercialized genre. Don't let the fact that the book is selling for one cent fool you; it's certainly smarter than a lot of drek out there.