The second-to-last of the Heavy Gear colony books, Life on Atlantis describes the colony world of Atlantis. Like the name implies, it’s a water world; small islands here and there but mostly just ocean. Colonized and somewhat terraformed in the early years by a Terran corporate consortium, then abandoned by the CEF withdrawal, and now stuck in a stalemate war with the CEF forces bent on (re)conquest. Unlike most other worlds, where CEF has either conquered or been pushed back, here the result is a strange form of stalemate. The CEF holds the islands and has space superiority, but the Atlantean locals hold the rest of the world (i.e. the oceans). Based in vast underwater cities, they have underwater tech that the CEF cannot match and the ability to shoot down satellites from low orbit, using submarine-based beam weaponry and distributed sensor nets. The CEF Fifth Fleet, stuck in this situation for ages now, is growing more and more frustrated and crew morale is low. On the other hand, the Atlanteans have little hope of gaining any new ground back. Of course, into this situation enter the Terra Novan strike teams (and PCs, potentially).
It’s a decent book, providing detail on both the history of the world and the current situation. Atlantean tech and culture is described, along with the major underwater cities (only in rough detail, of course). The usual mix of NPC descriptions, plot seeds and vehicle data rounds of the mix.
The book is quite readable, but I was left with a feeling that more could have been done with the setting. Sure, the touches of Greek here and there (result of original colonist language/culture mix) were nice, as were the discussions on life under the waves. On the other hand, it was still mostly just “well, these guys live underwater and use subs a lot”. Also, I’m not sure I quite buy the setup… why doesn’t the CEF just drop some nukes near the cities, the shockwave from even a missed strike should be enough to rupture pressure seals at those pressures. To be fair, I have no idea of the physics involved here; would a nuke be effective at depths of 0.5 - 1km? I suspect yes, due to the uncompressability of water… but dunno. Of course, a valid explanation is that the CEF wants to capture the cities and installations, not destroy them. Still, I think that is something that would have merited some discussion.
Overall, quite ok. Not the best of the colony books, but not bad either.