I finished reading Chase into Space today and I'm starting to figure out some of the reasons this trilogy seems so bland. The only real conflict in these books is Us vs Them, all of humanity versus the insectoid alien menace. Without a Darth Vader figure the overall conflict has no villain to boo. There's no real person-to-person conflict. Nora and Cris reunite without Cris showing any anger over being abandoned as a child. The only real interpersonal conflict, between John and the fatass major, is brief and basically played for laughs. And there's very little intrapersonal conflict. Nora manages to just stop being an alcoholic. Cris's anger management issues never jeopardize a mission. The whole trilogy seems to be hinged entirely on the alien threat, there's nothing else under the surface. That must be why these books are such a fast read, they're about the most shallow sci-fi I've ever read.