After Armageddon Paperback – Mar 15 1990
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Created by Jerry Pournelle, Edited by John F. Carr
404 pages; $3.99
I really enjoy this series. It has been out of print for a long time, but you can readily find copies in used book stores or on the internet. Four of nine volumes in the series sit on my shelves, and I am always happy when I come across another one. I always manage to find a couple of really good stories in each volume that lead to further enjoyable reading, oftentimes in the novel version of the same story. Volume I featured a short story by Orson Scott Card called Ender's Game. Volume I also introduced me to David Drake's Ranks of Bronze. Volume IV has a chapter from Gordon Dickson's Way of the Pilgrim. In Volume IX, my favorites are The Voice of the Cockroach, by Leslie Fish, and The Contract, by Don Hawthorne.
I already knew Leslie Fish from her folk guitar performances of Rudyard Kipling, but this was the first of any of her fiction I have come across. In The Voice of the Cockroach, a man receives the rare gift of seeing himself as he truly is. The pain and clarity of that moral revelation was so powerful I had to put the book down for a moment, lest I be caught up in his grief and sorrow. The Contract is a historically informed tale of a Russian officer picking up the pieces after the world comes to an end. In a very, very, Russian manner.
There are also short essays in each volume discussing war and politics. It is interesting to look back on them 25 years later and see how their analysis and predictions held up. Alan Brown's essay on Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers was still topical. Kennedy correctly predicted the Soviets were falling behind in the Cold War, but Kennedy also spent a lot of time in 1989 pondering how the Japanese could use their wealth to influence world affairs. It turns out mostly by making Hello Kitty branded everything. Kennedy didn't miss the potential of China, he just didn't know whether they could successfully reconcile capitalism with Marxism. Well, now we know.
Go pick one of these volumes up. You should find something you like.
I really felt that the series began to hit its stride in the book or two before this particular one, and this volume showed that as well. There are some 22 stories and essays here and they're all pretty good really; the essays seem to focus less on "how to fight the Soviets" and more on "how to transition to a better world". Most are pretty much centered around the theme of the book, recovery after an Armageddon-like blowout of a war or collapse. There's a lot of rediscovered tech, the odd alien checking out the newly vacated territory, etc. Two stories in particular stood out for me in part because they're so optimistic--"Half the Battle" and . "The Palace at Midnight" were both quite good. There's also a poem in here ("Horatius at the Bridge") which I found to be both completely out of place and (IMO) poorly done, but I'm no fan of poetry so we'll just note it was mostly lost on me.
Recommended for fans of GOOD military science fiction....this is one of the better ones in the series.