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In his introduction to this solid shared-world anthology, laid in the universe of his novel Ranks of Bronze (in turn developed from a short story reprinted here as the first item), military SF author Drake explains the book's venerable premise: human soldiers (in this case, Romans from the lost legions of Crassus) have been enslaved by star-traveling aliens who need low-tech mercenaries. Of the stories, David Weber's "Sir George and the Dragon," Drake's "Lambs to the Slaughter" and S.M. Stirling's "The Three Walls 32nd Campaign" are all conventional if substantially above-average military SF. (It's hard to resist a centurion nicknamed Raninunculus, i.e., "Froggy.") Mark L. Van Name's "A Clear Signal" distinguishes itself by its focus on the ethical issues created for humans by access to the aliens' high technology and for aliens by access to a supply of desperate human beings. Finally, Eric Flint's "Carthago Delenda Est" combines passion and zaniness in about equal measure, a mixture that has worked for its author in novel length and now seems to prosper in his shorter pieces. Neither the basic proposition nor most of the development in individual stories will win high marks for originality, but military-historical scholarship and narrative techniques are another matter, as one might expect from the roster of authors. In addition, one learns a good deal about the background of the Roman guilds and federation and how a "benign" federation might look from the point of view of its illegal immigrants doing its dirty work.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Drake's previously published story of an interstellar interpretation of a portion of Roman history ("Ranks of Bronze") becomes the touchstone for this collection, which focuses on the starfaring descendants of displaced Roman legions. From David Weber's revision of the legend of St. George ("Sir George and the Dragon") to Eric Flint's tale of a far future Roman empire ("Carthago Delenda Est"), the six stories create a satisfying fusion of ancient history and far future military sf suitable for most libraries' sf collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.