Viewpoints Critical (2008) is a speculative fiction collection. It contains sixteen stories, nine science fiction, five fiction, and two ambiguous tales. Some are related to series by this author.
"The Great American Economy" (Analog, 1973) is SF only because it anticipated the future, since it relates a tale of cyber crime.
"Second Coming" (Asimov's, 1979) is an SF story relating the adventures of Jimboy Wright during an earlier mission.
"Rule of Law" (Analog, 1981) is another story that is SF only because it anticipated the future, describing the use of computers to develop profiles of judges, prosecutors and other aspects of criminal trials.
"Iron Man, Plastic Ships" (Asimov's, 1979) is an SF story explaining how an acting Captain reacted to inferior procurement methods.
"Power to ...?" (Analog, 1990) is an SF story about the development of an efficient and effective fusion reactor.
"Precision Set" (On Spec, 2001) is an SF story about future sports and their effect on the people involved.
"Fallen Angel" (Flights, 2004) is a fantasy story about a resident of Hell who gets calls for his services from the angels.
"Understanding" (On Spec, 2000) is a fantasy story describing how a man got his wish and regretted it.
"News Clips Recovered from the NYC Ruins" (The Leading Edge, 2005) is an SF story covering the decline of American education and the consequences.
"The Pilots" (In the Shadow of the Wall, 2002) is a fantasy story about three pilots, one a ghost from the Vietnam War.
"The Dock to Heaven" (Low Port, 2003) is an ambiguous story about an infosnark who does a favor for the angels. Are the supernatural terms metaphorical or real?
"Ghost Mission" (Slipstreams, 2006) is a fantasy story from the Ghost series, describing how a ghost saved a zombie from her killer.
"Spec-Ops" (Future Weapons of War, 2007) is an SF story recounting the perils of remote control warfare.
"Sisters of Sarronnym, Sisters of Westwind" (UNIVERSE, 2006) is a fantasy story about the founding of the Recluce settlement.
"The Difference" (Man vs. Machine, 2007) is an SF story telling of the perils of religion among computers.
"The Swan Pilot" (Emerald Magic, 2004) is another ambiguous story about the pilot of a starship and the interludes that he encounters on the voyage. Are the interludes merely delusions or do they have some reality?
Several stories draw from the author's experiences as a Navy helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. "Iron Man, Plastic Ships" comes from the McNamara effort to reduce the costs of fighting a war. In the long run, such methods actually cost more -- in lives if not in materiel -- than the rather chaotic processes used before and after that administration. Similar thinking still occurs among the politicians in Congress and elsewhere.
Other stories draw from the author's memories of the EPA and subsequent consulting work. "Power to ...?" shows the extreme complexity of global warming. It also warns of the hazards of ham-handed political solutions.
These stories are entertaining and thought provoking. Like the best speculative fiction, they illustrate future possibilities. Read and enjoy!
Highly recommended for Modesitt fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of exotic locales, enigmatic situations, and interesting people.
-Arthur W. Jordin