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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

RED HORSE reviewed

The Pulp Writer reviews RIDING THE RED HORSE:
RIDING THE RED HORSE is an anthology of military science fiction, speculating on what the wars of both the immediate and the distant future will look like. It alternates between nonfiction essays on the nature of war and short stories. None of the essays or stories were bad, but my favorites were:

-Jerry Pournelle’s HIS TRUTH GOES MARCHING ON takes place on a distant colony planet. Later some refugees are assigned to the planet, to which the original inhabitants take offense, and the situation unfolds with predictable violence from there.  Basically, it’s the Spanish Civil War IN SPACE! The story follows an idealistic yet nonetheless capable young officer who gradually loses both his illusions and his innocence during the fighting.

-William S. Lind’s essay on “The Four Generations of Modern War” rather presciently pointed out some of the serious problems with the Iraq War. His thesis postulates that we are entering a period of history where technology enables non-state organizations or even individuals to wage wars effectively, much like the Middle Ages when the state did not have a monopoly on war. (A good example of that is the Hanseatic League,  an organization of merchants which actually defeated Denmark in a war during the 14th century, or the various civil wars of medieval France and England where powerful noble families fought each other with no central authority able to restrain them.) While I lack the expertise to determine whether the essay is actually correct or not, I nonetheless think it helpful in trying to understand the various conflicts in the world today. Admittedly the hack around THE INTERVIEW film, which took place after I started writing this review, caused millions of dollars in economic disruption and is likely a good example of fourth-generation warfare, regardless of whether a government, a non-state group, or simply a group of disgruntled employees did the hack.

-WITHIN THIS HORIZON, by Thomas A. Mays follows a Space Navy officer in a distant future where the major powers have developed space fleets, and therefore armed conflict has moved the the asteroid belts and the comets. Ground-based forces are left to wither. The Space Navy officer in question, after sustaining serious wounds, is reassigned to the terrestrial water navy, and figures his career is over. The enemy, however, has other ideas, and the story is an excellent tale of integrity in the face of cynicism.
I think one of the chief arguments for the strength of the anthology is the way in which readers and reviewers keep citing different stories as their favorite. Steve Rzasa's "Turncoat" was my favorite, and there are more than a few who agree with me, but it's remarkable how many other of the 14 different fiction stories have been cited by others as the anthology's best. No doubt Mr. Roberts will appreciate Mr. Moeller's opinion on the matter.

Grognard, an Amazon reviewer, adds:
The essays are better than the stories, which is amazing given the stories. The book also includes a bibliography for each contributor and that is even better. This is a must-buy for anyone interested in science-fiction or military history, let alone military science-fiction.

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26 Comments:

Blogger Owen December 30, 2014 3:07 PM  

Sold.

Anonymous Normanatos December 30, 2014 3:42 PM  

A damn fine first edition, looking forward to the next installment and following the varius contributors.

Anonymous Steve December 30, 2014 3:47 PM  

OK, I'll buy this.

But please include some Tom Kratman stories in the sequel.

(Though ask him if he can stop using the word "nonce" - that means something different to Anglian ears)

Anonymous 0007 December 30, 2014 3:57 PM  

Unfortunately those of us who still like to hold a book in our hands will not get the chance to read any of those stories. Or much of anything else digitized by Castalia House. Ah me I just keep getting older...

Blogger JartStar December 30, 2014 4:05 PM  

0007 - Have you tried any of the eBook readers? They are very inexpensive now, and very good. Some older readers actually prefer them as they can adjust the font size.

Anonymous Rolf December 30, 2014 4:18 PM  

I like physical books, too. Some recent research also indicates that people have an easier time remembering details about the sequence of events in a story if they read it in a physical book, because you remember physical details about how many relative pages were on one side versus the other when you read through a scene, so there is a tactile memory of approximate location to associate the story item with. OTOH, I'm sure that it will come out in physical form, eventually, and if everyone that notes a minor typo reports it, then the final paper format edition should be really clean.

Anonymous VD December 30, 2014 4:26 PM  

Unfortunately those of us who still like to hold a book in our hands will not get the chance to read any of those stories.

The best way to ensure that a print edition of one of our books is done is to buy an ebook edition.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan December 30, 2014 5:00 PM  

I'm enjoying it, informative and entertaining.

Anonymous zen0 December 30, 2014 5:13 PM  

FYI only, not comment.

A recent poll on the Weathernetwork asked:

My favourite type of books to read are:
Romance
Fantasy or Science Fiction
Biographies or Non-fiction
Crime
Thriller
Mystery or Adventure fiction
Other (let us know in the comments)


The top 3 were:
Mystery or adventure 25%
Bio or non-fiction 20%
Fantasy / SF 17%

Anonymous Snickers December 30, 2014 5:15 PM  

I'm assuming there will be four more then a printed hardcover... Yes?

Blogger MidKnight December 30, 2014 5:28 PM  

Bought it, and only partway through so far.

I remember the Pournelle story - it's a good one.

Vox - yours was chilling.

Erics was also food for thought, and read well.

Have yet to run into anything - new or old - that failed to hold my interest.

Blogger automatthew December 30, 2014 7:18 PM  

Vox: "The best way to ensure that a print edition of one of our books is done is to buy an ebook edition."

Perhaps the CH store could provide some way to indicate that I'm purchasing an ebook but also want the hard copy.

Blogger Rantor December 30, 2014 7:57 PM  

Halfway through and Christmas intervened.... Must get back to it

Anonymous VD December 30, 2014 7:59 PM  

Perhaps the CH store could provide some way to indicate that I'm purchasing an ebook but also want the hard copy.

No need. Our decisions are based on the numbers. RED HORSE has gotten off to a very good start; if it maintains this pace it will be our most successful launch this year.

Anonymous Jack Amok December 30, 2014 8:26 PM  

I just started Kratman's essay, so I'm close to finishing. Hard to pick a favorite so far. Dr. Pournelle's would-be a runaway winner except I thought the ending abrupt. Vox's story was easily the most thought provoking, though ESR's laser essay... hmmmm.

Gay straighter pilots definitely in last place though. Still shaking my head about that one.

Anonymous maniacprovost December 30, 2014 8:52 PM  

Ha, straighter pilots. That story was one of my favorites, despite the lack of cleverness.I also liked Vox's, despite it not being clear whether the two problems were linked or not, and the fact that it would serve as the first chaptess of a novella.

Blogger automatthew December 30, 2014 9:54 PM  

"Gay straighter pilots definitely in last place though. Still shaking my head about that one."

It fit the classic hard SF profile, and was worth including for that at least. The relationship of the two pilots was extraneous to the story, but perhaps was not given the larger work.

I got one of Nuttall's novels as a bonus for buying Red Horse from the CH mailing list, and I'm hoping that it will set things straight.

Best essay was Ken Burnside's, hands down. Next was ESR's on lasers.

Most memorable stories were Giuseppe's, Steve Rzasa solo, Vox Day solo, and Thomas May.

Anonymous Eric the Red December 30, 2014 10:01 PM  

Castalia House should get deals with Michael Moore (Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Practical Demonkeeping, etc), Tim Powers, and especially the great unrealized Christian fantasist James P. Blaylock to re-release their books.

Then Castalia House should go into the movie production business, and make a film out of Blaylock's great 'The Digging Leviathan' or 'The Last Coin'. Such movies would start to bring back Christian values as well as amazing fantasy, devoid of all pinkshirt degeneracy.

Anonymous Eric the Red December 30, 2014 10:09 PM  

Hoopla... major correction to the above post...
That should be CHRISTOPHER MOORE, not Michael Moore (heaven forbid). My sleeping meds haven't worn off yet probably.

Anonymous Eric the Red December 30, 2014 10:22 PM  

BTW, another serious contender for a great anti-leftist film:

Tim Power's 'The Drawing of the Dark' I would consider to be the finest fantasy novel of the twentieth century. It's message is rather timely and also rather un-PC:

In 1529 the protagonist Duffy is hired to guard the brewery where every seven hundred years a special Herzwesten (heart of the west) brew is made to revive both the Fisher King and the West, all while the fucking moslems are trying to bash down the Gates of Vienna.

The novel is superb because it effortlessly sets a flavor and tone of those times, an atmosphere if you like, without any wasted words. The story just flows, and the reader is drawn instantly, completely into it.

Oh well, what do I know?

Anonymous Jack Amok December 31, 2014 1:44 AM  

It fit the classic hard SF profile, and was worth including for that at least. The relationship of the two pilots was extraneous to the story, but perhaps was not given the larger work.

We disagree about that one. i thought the story was weak, and made rather obnoxious by the Gratuitous Gay. You're right it was extraneous to the story. All that element provided was one bad joke, one clanging, jarring, WTF moment ("...find a privacy tube...") and at the end replaced the genuine bond comrades in arms feel with the cheap pink lover crap that was mentioned on a previous thread. I assume Nuttall made them gay for the usual reasons pink authors include gay characters since there was no plot or character reason for it. Although the rest of the book makes up for it, I have to ding Vox for letting that piece of pink crap into the collection. Shouldn't have been there.

Guiseppe's story was very well done and packed a hell of an emotional punch.

Rolf's too was quite good. I'm intrigued by the universe he set that one in. I definitely want to read more of it.

Anonymous Quartermaster December 31, 2014 8:29 AM  

I have the entire series "There Will Be War" and the later 3 volume Republic and Empire. The essays are better than the stories, and the stories are very good. Given who is included in Red Horse, I would expect the same.

Blogger Tom Kratman December 31, 2014 1:08 PM  

"Some recent research also indicates that people have an easier time remembering details about the sequence of events in a story if they read it in a physical book,"

Figured it out when I was still practicing law, Rolf, the day I went to a hardcover law book, looking for a case I had previously read, layed the book, spine down, in my left hand, and it split open to the case i wanted. Books, somewhat like playing cards, have memory. And, yes, they give the reader clues.

Blogger automatthew December 31, 2014 5:33 PM  

Jack Amok, I disliked the story, but it did have the feel of some of the harder SF classics. Last night I tried reading Nuttall's novel from CH.

Got 7 pages in before quitting in disgust. Sadly, it is just as pozzed as the short.

Here's a delightful bit about Command Sergeant Gwendolyn Patterson:



Gwen was short and surprisingly feminine. No one would have taken her for a Marine on first glance, even though she could outfight almost anyone else within the Company. Rumour had it that Gwen had a habit of cruising the bars in the Undercity and beating up rapists...


Seriously? C'mon, Castalia House. That's garbage.

Anonymous 0007 December 31, 2014 9:34 PM  

Not wishing to flog my dead horse, but I don't understand why some sort of paid for print-on-demand deal couldn't be worked out. Cas owns the copywright I presume?

Anonymous Billy January 05, 2015 8:24 PM  

I'm just trying to get my head around Christopher G. Nuttall: "A Piece of Cake". How in the fuck did this garbage make it into this collection of short stories. It runs counter to every fucking thing we've been preached on this site. Not to sound like a whinny piece of shit but I fell fucking betrayed. If I hadn't been reading a kindle I would have set the mother fucker on fire.

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