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Rats, Bats, and Vats and The Rats, The Bats, and The Ugly are military Science-Fiction books by Eric Flint and Dave Freer that take place in the same universe on a colony planet called Harmony And Reason with a Bug War going on. But wait, it gets better: the colony was put there by a slow ship so a good deal of the passengers were of the genetic material variety ... instant conscripts! Hu, What not so instant? Well, crud. But wait, there are friendly aliens who are willing to sell us their advanced technology, too bad their ships FTL broke down on the way to warn us about the bugs. This technology consists of implants slowshield/hardshield chip and the Soft-Cyber chip, see below.

The first book deals with Chip Connolly, a vat-brat conscript, and a number of rats and bats getting Trapped Behind Enemy Lines, facing insurmountable odds. At the same time, Virginia "Ginny" Shaw, a young and innocent heiress, her cyber-uplifted galago Fluff, and her Korozhet tutor get captured by the Magh. Against all odds, Chip, the rats and the bats manage to save the girl and win the day.

The second book deals with Chip's court martial over the aforementioned events and Ginny and the others' attempts to save him from the firing squad.

Contains examples of:

  • Aliens Speaking English
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The charges Chip is accused of include rape, desertion... and driving without a license.
  • Big Eater: the uplifted Rats thanks to some shrew blood, to the point where it is mentioned repeatedly that they eat their enemies and if hungry enough their allies
  • Bug War
  • Chainsaw Good: Ginny comes to love hers. The people in her way, not so much.
  • Deadly Upgrade: the shield implants. If not used correctly they will kill their users and/or explode. Subverted in that this is exactly what they are designed to do; not only are the evil alien masterminds' natural weapons not covered by the two types of shield provided, the implants also don't even have a on/off switch.
    • Slow-Shields are energy absorbers that protect the user from kinetic energy weapons and power themselves by the body heat of the user, not that the later comes up in story.
    • Hard-Shields are Deflector Shields set up to not allow anything to travel past a certain speed in a certain perimeter, which conveniently means that if a firearm is set off inside that perimeter the bullet BLENDS the user
    • Phlebotinum Overload what happens when two Hard-Shields meet
      • Both Shield types come in installation sizes
  • Eats Babies: the evil aliens do this with aplomb.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: or at least uplifted Galagos (aka bushbabies).
  • Exact Words: How the Doc resists the Restraining Bolt; sure, he'll follow the good, wonderful Korozhet's instructions. The Complete Monster Crotchet might as well order a wall around, though.
    • Later on, Dr. Thom learns the hard way that using his Korozhet mind control device to order Ginny to come to him was a bad idea. At least without first ordering her to put down the chainsaw...
  • Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: what else the Soft-Cybers can do.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Seemingly the Magh, with their insect-like creation of hives as they overrun human territory.
  • Hot Skitty-On-Wailord Action: Ariel the rattess has a certain fondness for her commanding officer, though she fits in his pocket until she gets an upgrade.
  • Large Ham: Van Klomp
  • Lilliputians: 2/3rd's of Harmony And Reason's elite soldiers are the size of a small housecat.
  • Majorly Awesome: Both Fitzhugh and Van Klomp
  • The Medic: an oddly philosophical rat with a good deal of Heroic Willpower.
  • Miles Gloriosus: The HAR military brass minus Fitzhugh and Van Klomp.
  • Oireland: the uplifted Bats to the point of asking why were they given high explosives again?
  • Pimped-Out Car: Nym's candy-striped golf cart.
  • Prequel: Genie Out of the Bottle is a short story taking place shortly before the main plot, detailing the backstory of Fitz, among other things. Available at the Baen Free Online Library here:
  • Prison Episode: Subverted when Chip gets thrown in the brig in The Rats, The Bats, and The Ugly: he wants to stay in the brig where he gets a mattress and three meals a day. At the front, he doesn't get that.
  • Privately-Owned Society: Although technically, it's commonly owned and the vat-grown citizens or their heirs can buy a share after they're done paying the bill for growing and educating them. That, and interest.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Fitzhugh
  • Restraining Bolt: what the Soft-Cybers really are. Other features include a highly-accurate timepiece, one-way radio, Universal Translator...
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Inverted. Chip has no interest in Ginny whatsoever...until she gets nice and dirty.
  • Split Personality: what happens when you overload a soft-cyber.
  • Starfish Alien: three varieties vaguely bug-ish Magh, vaguely land-sea-urchin-ish Korozhet, and vaguely blue-four-tentacled-hairball-thing-ish Jampad.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Sanjay Devi does so masterfully in the second book.
  • Uplifted animals: the Rats and Bats are genetically engineered bipedal cyborgs that require Soft-Cyber and vocal implants to soldier and talk
  • Virginity Makes You Stupid: Ginny. Partially averted that the symptoms start to attenuate shortly before the cause is treated.
  • Widget Series: take a swig every time you laugh out loud ... we dare you.
  • Write What You Know: Dave Freer's knowledge of conscription apparently comes first hand
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