Many years ago I read a book, possibly one of a series. I read it in the early 90's so it may have been from that period or the 80's. I remember several details, but can't recall title or author. Title may have been something like Xenophobe or Xenophile or some form thereof. Not Xenocide from the Ender series. That plot doesn't sound familiar.


Genre is probably Military Sci-fi

Humanity is fighting an alien race trying to kill us.

Humans all have "jacks" built into their skulls which allows them to "jack into" whatever machinery or technology they want to control. For instance, the protagonist is applying for a job and for the interview he jacks into a phone booth, goes to a virtual store, buys a virtual suit to attend his virtual interview.

The military uses large robotech style robots that are controlled by the pilot through virtual reality via the jacks in your skull. Same thing with load lifters or any other machinery. They also have nanotechnology that provides adaptive camouflage.

I seem to recall the robot pilots referring to infantry as crunchies, due to the sound they make when they get stepped on by the robots.

I have googled as many different ways as I can think of and can't find anything. Guessing it was not very popular.

  • There's a bunch of sci-fi books beginning with "xeno" here - None of them seem to immediately suit the description; isfdb.org/cgi-bin/edit/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 22:15
  • To help narrow it down a bit, do you remember anything in the book about the invaders being reptiles with yellow blood? Or about Nazi officers being made young again?
    – Omegacron
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 18:36
  • Definitely no Nazis. That would have stuck out. As for the other, sorry. Just too many cobwebs upstairs.
    – spamb0t
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 12:54
  • I have definitely read the book you are talking about and have been trying to find it for years. I feel like the title was 'Xenocide', but definitely is NOT the Orson Scott Card novel, however I've been unable to dig anything up.
    – user46390
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 13:03
  • So, look for an author who rode tanks in a previous life, since we call infantry crunchies in the modern day. ;)
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 5:10

3 Answers 3


It was called "Warstrider", by Ian Douglas! I clearly remember the cover having the word "Xenophobe", big and bold, on the cover, though, along with a huge black/silver alien thing looking like the creatures from Pitch Black, bearing down on a guy.

Humans had nanotech films on their brains for interfacing with computer systems, eastern culture had become dominant, the aliens used Silver Surfer-looking nanotech mechs that split into smaller mechs once defeated and at some point, humans came into contact with a third alien race using biotech that also wanted to help defeat the antagonist aliens. The ending had a twist about the true nature of the attacking race.

The reference to crunchies is when Corporal Castellano tells the main protagonist Dev:

"The poor bloody infantry, sonny. Crunchies, the striderjacks call 'em,'cause that's the sound they make when their CAs get stepped on by the big five-meter jobs."


Chris Bunch and John Ringo have both used the term crunchies to describe infantry.

In Chris Bunch's books it's mainly the Last Legion series, though he does use the term elsewhere as well. In John Ringo's books I think the term is only used in the Aldenata series. In Aldenta 4 - Hell's faire there is the paragraph:

Operations orders, movement orders and communications were laid out days in advance. Otherwise they tended to run over such unimportant obstacles as front-lines, headquarters or, in one particularly unpleasant accident, the entire logistics "tail" of divisions. There was a reason that SheVa crewmen referred to everything other than SheVas, including "lesser" armor, as "crunchies."

Which sort of matches your memory of being crushed by robots. However none of the books has a title anything like "Xeno-whatever" and I don't think any of them make a big deal of virtual reality though it's a long time since I read them. They are certainly military SciFi though.

  • The title is my weakest memory. The phone booth virtual interview thing, the cords plugging into peoples heads, that's what I remember most. Both of the series you mention can be eliminated based on their publication date. I was reading this book circa 1993. Thank you contributing however, as I may have to look into reading the titles you mention.
    – spamb0t
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 20:56

Perhaps the novel you are looking for is one of the Bolo series of books by Keith Laumer. A Bolo is a rather advanced tank which is controlled by one human, first by voice and later, with a helmet-like advanced interface in which the human and Bolo AI temporarily meld into one mind. The list of novels is rather extensive, with one of the latest being David Weber's Old Soldiers. The Wikipedia entry lists the enemy alien races that try to wipe out humanity; there are also a few ally alien races. The list of books include those written by Keith Laumer as well as anthologies, and other novels based in the universe created by Laumer for the Bolos. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolo_(tank)


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