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There Will Be War Volume X by Jerry…
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There Will Be War Volume X

by Jerry Pournelle (Editor)

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This is the last volume in the late Jerry Pournelle's long running series, There Will be War. Volume IX was published in 1990. Jerry said that the series had originally ended when the Cold War did, but the return of great power politics with Russia and China made it relevant again. It has sold well over the years, if Jerry had lived longer, I imagine more volumes would have been forthcoming.

This volume is just as good as any of the previous installments. One major change is that China is featured as the bête noire instead of Russia, but otherwise the basic structure remains the same: short science fiction with a military focus is interspersed with non-fiction essays on military topics, all of it woven together with short introductions by Jerry.

There were some great stories in this volume. Standouts for me were "Flashpoint: Titan" by Cheah Kai Wai, "The Fourth Fleet" by Russell Newquist, "Among Thieves" by Poul Anderson, and '"Fly-by-Night"' by Larry Niven. All the stories in this volume were good, which makes it hard to pick my favorites, so I go by the ones that stick in my memory the best.

In particular, Larry Niven's contribution astonished me with how dense it was. Larry managed to pack so much detail into every sentence that I had a little trouble keeping up. I found myself scanning back every so often to make sure I hadn't missed something interesting. I often had. I hadn't previously considered getting into Known Space or the Man-Kzin Wars, but now I want to.

I've found a number of great authors via their contributions to this series, for example Gordon Dickson. In this case, I was already familiar with Larry's books with Jerry Pournelle, but I only kind of liked The Magic Goes Away, the only solo Niven book I've read. Looking back at my review, I wrote it up better than I remember it. Thanks to this collection, I'm willing to give Niven's other books a chance. Which is after all the point of short stories; they give you a chance to try authors out rapidly, and see who you might like to read more.

I think this volume continues a great tradition, and it has some great stories in it. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes any of the authors who contributed, fans of military science fiction, and anyone who likes a cracking good yarn. You should be able to find something you like. ( )
  bespen | Dec 30, 2017 |
Like others, even if items did not end up on the Hugo nominee list fairly, I figure I'll read them and give an honest opinion.

** What Price Humanity? - David VanDyke
There's a germ of a good idea in this story. The ending is actually really well-presented. I could see a 12-year-old boy with a serious video game obsession thinking that this story was absolutely devastating.
However - I've already read 'Ender's Game.' I saw that ending being telegraphed to me loud and clear from quite early on. The set-up? A space soldier comes to consciousness in a medical-type setting which he realizes quite soon, is a VR simulation. He assumes that he's been injured and that he's in recovery. But soon, he's joined by a number of other soldiers - all acquaintances that he's served with, and even one old girlfriend who, he's quite certain, was dead. They're asked to participate in a number of simulated training exercises involving new tech against humanity's alien enemies.
The main problem with the story is that the characters feel like they were imagined by the aforementioned 12-year-old boy. The mentality is very juvenile and limited-feeling, and a scenario that had a ton of potential just doesn't achieve what it could have.

Also - a note: When South Park called a lone black character "Token" it felt like a pointed bit of social criticism. When VanDyke does it here, it doesn't.
  AltheaAnn | Aug 4, 2016 |
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