- Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Del Rey; Canadian First edition (May 1 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780345439895
- ISBN-13: 978-0345439895
- ASIN: 0345439899
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.8 x 23.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 204 g
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,457,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century: Stories Paperback – May 1 2001
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It's not merely a task that's thankless--it's impossible. How can you hope to pick out the best of anything, let alone from such a contentious category as SF (and military SF, at that)? But this 13-story collection really does pull together at least some of the best short stories penned for the genre in the last century. Thanks to editors Harry Turtledove and Martin H. Greenberg, you'll find some of science fiction's biggest names--and most influential shorts--in this expertly chosen anthology.
Chronologically, the entries range from '50s pieces like Philip K. Dick's "Second Variety" and Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" to more modern ruminations on war like "The Scapegoat" by C.J. Cherryh and "To the Storming Gulf" by Gregory Benford. But rather than quality (all these stories are of inarguable pedigree) or even breadth, what might recommend these most to readers new to them are the ideas and other works they later inspired: Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonrider" and Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" both gave rise to phenomenally successful series, Joe W. Haldeman's "Hero" preceded The Forever War, and Philip K. Dick's "Second Variety" became the SF thriller Screamers. The collection also gives you a glimpse of what dark thoughts were rattling around the heads of prolific writers like David Drake and George R.R. Martin in the '70s. --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century, edited by Harry Turtledove with Martin H. Greenberg, musters 13 tales by such top brass of this popular subgenre as Orson Scott Card, David Drake, George R.R. Martin, Arthur C. Clarke and editor Turtledove, who provides an introduction. SF military addicts won't need a direct order to seize a copy of this one.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.See all Product description
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This thirteen-story collection runs the gamut of science fiction even as the theme throughout centers on the military. The contributors are an "A to Z" (actually W) of renowned science fiction authors with most of the authors having one name recognition (Clarke, McCaffrey, Anderson, Benford, Cherryh, Drake, and Turtledove, etc.
The tales contain alternate history (duh - with Mr. Turtledove as a participant that is no surprise ending), outer space wars between technological advanced civilizations and more primitive societies, and old fashion magic. The contributions take place in different eras though some are post apocalyptic to post nuclear vampiric. All have heroes or heroines battling against overwhelming odds that would lead to Luke losing confidence in the force.
Each story is well written as one would expect from a book titled THE BEST MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION OF THE 20TH CENTURY, and edited by Mr. Turtledove with Martin H. Greenberg. Besides being well-written tales by the elite of the past century, several of the short stories include the opening gamut of an author's classic series (Haldeman, Card). Science Fiction fans will want to read this one because the book lives up to its title.
The rest are more of a mixed bag. Gregory Benford's "To the Storming Gulf" is a decent post nuclear war saga, while Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" is an excellent philisophical war story. Some of the others are less compelling. Anne McCaffrey's novella "Dragonrider," for example, takes up over 100 pages, and is more of a fantasy story than military science fiction.
Overall, this is a decent collection, worthwhile for fans of these types of stories. I would recommend it with the caveat that you can skip over any of the tales that are not to your taste.
There are some gems here. Orson Scott Card's classic "Ender's Game" definitely deserves to be a volume with this title. I highly recommend the novel-length expansion of the story and it's sequels (most notably the companion novel, "Ender's Shadow" and "Shadow of the Hegemon"). David Drake's "Hangman" is an excellent introduction to his Hammer's Slammers series which also requires inclusion in a volume such as this. Walter Jon Williams's "Wolf Time" is one of the best stories in the volume, taking place in the same universe as "Voice of the Whirlwind". And Joe Haldeman expanded "Hero" to become "Forever War" (and its sequels).
Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonrider" was, likewise, the beginning of a large franchise, but it's inclusion as an example of military SF is quite a stretch. Similarly, Harry Turtledove's "The Last Article" is an excellent story, but it would have fit much better in his "best alternate history" collection than in this volume.
Other classics include Poul Anderson's "Among Thieves" (an intro to his Polesotechnic League universe), Philip K. Dick's "Second Variety" (recently made, like so many of his stories, into a movie), and C. J. Cherryh's "The Scapegoat". I also enjoyed George R. R. Martin's "Night of the Vampyres".
Gregory Benford's "To the Storming Gulf" is not military at all; it would, instead, fit quite nicely in a collection of post-apocalyptic fiction.
While touted by some as a classic, I have never been impressed with Cordwainer Smith's "The Game of Rat and Dragon". And Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority" is merely clever. Any number of other stories could have replaced either of these tales in a "best of" volume.