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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

THERE WILL BE WAR: The ten best stories

This is just my personal list of favorites from Volume I and Volume II. I'm only considering the fiction here, not the essays, articles, or poems.
  1. "Cincinnatus", Joel Rosenberg, Volume II. This story about a retired, possibly traitorous general brought back for one last command is probably my favorite-ever mil-sf story. As excellent in conception as execution, it has had a distinct influence on the world of Quantum Mortis.
  2. "On the Shadow of a Phosphor Screen", William F. Wu, Volume II. The series features several stories from this world where wars are settled by professional gamers. It reads like a prophecy of Sega's Total War series, but has a haunting edge to it that gives it a timeless feel.
  3. "Superiority", Arthur C. Clarke, Volume II. A clever and amusing exercise in explaining how technological superiority can be a weakness. Particularly interesting if you've read van Creveld's Technology and War. It's more relevant than the average general would like to think.
  4. "Ender's Game", Orson Scott Card, Volume I. "Ender's Game". The original novella. Enough said.
  5. "In the Name of the Father", Edward P. Hughes, Volume II. This is possibly the most light-hearted post-apocalyptic tale ever told. I like the stories of Barley's Crossing.
  6. "Time Lag", Poul Anderson, Volume II. A tribute to the significance of female steadfastness in times of war, as well as an illustration of how time and distance factor into the martial equation.
  7. "His Truth Goes Marching On", Jerry Pournelle, Volume I. As Tom Kratman once called it, "the Spanish civil war in space". Philosophically deeper than you might think at first.
  8.  "'Caster" by Eric Vinicoff, Volume II. A little longer than it needs to be, not quite as artfully written as the others, but an inspirational and optimistic war story.
  9. "Ranks of Bronze" by David Drake, Volume I. Drake does Roman legions playing mercenary for aliens. A little short, but it's a good battle scene.
  10. "Call Him Lord" by Gorden R. Dickson, Volume I. Less about war than the price of leadership. A bit artificial, but it comes to an emotionally powerful close.
As far as the non-fiction goes, while the articles on High Frontier are fascinating for their historical significance, my favorite is "Proud Legions" by T.R. Fehrenbach, which appears in Volume II. In fact, I have to confess that of the nine volumes of THERE WILL BE WAR, Volume II is my favorite. That is the very high bar that Volume X will attempt to clear.

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33 Comments:

Anonymous jack April 28, 2015 4:09 PM  

Proud Legions probably Ranks of Bronze? My favorite in Vol 1, though Time lag, the one I've read so far in Vol 2 deserves your praise.

As an educational moment; how is Call Him Lord artificial? Not complaining just seeking to better understand the language of constructive criticism.

Blogger Poor Guy April 28, 2015 4:40 PM  

Dang, even more books added to my wish list.

Anonymous Donn April 28, 2015 4:42 PM  

Ranks of Bronze is one of my favorite stories. Too bad you can't get more from Drake. He is a solid writer. Of course everything he writes is a horror story but those are good too.

Blogger Migly April 28, 2015 5:41 PM  

And that's even before you get to James Warner Bellah's "Spanish Man's Grave", which was the primary reason I once bought a used copy of this collection.

Anonymous JohnS April 28, 2015 5:44 PM  

Any chance of an audiobook release for the series? That would be awesome.

Blogger Nate April 28, 2015 5:47 PM  

ya know these were before my time. I was to young to appreciate them when they started... and by the time I was old enough I was to busy reading Berserkers and M-K wars stuff... and Roger... I could never get enough of Roger.

Blogger Brad Andrews April 28, 2015 6:01 PM  

Roger?

Blogger JCclimber April 28, 2015 6:17 PM  

Roger Z was the best. A giant.

Anonymous Patrick April 28, 2015 6:37 PM  

"Superiority" is required reading at Army Capabilities Integration Center
http://www.arcic.army.mil/LPD/professional-readings-archive.aspx?pageNo=4

Anonymous DJF April 28, 2015 7:20 PM  

“”””"Superiority", Arthur C. Clarke””’

This is the story I think about whenever I hear about the latest Pentagon project to “transform” the military technology. Simple steady progress is not good enough for them they must abandon old tech and depend on new whiz bang tech to save the day.

Its been less then 25 years since the Soviet Union collapsed and the US was unquestioned military leader, instead of just keeping steady progress and keeping our lead the US went on a transformational binge and in many areas is weaker then it was 25 years ago

Anonymous Earache My Eye April 28, 2015 7:36 PM  

"As Tom Kratman once called it, "the Spanish civil war in space". Philosophically deeper than you might think at first."

Not to slight Mr. Kratman's (I'm sure very astute) observations... but the Spanish civil war was an exceedingly stupid, crude, cynical affair, conducted for reasons that had very little to do with the Spanish.

But I'm sure the story can rest confidently on its own considerable merits. (NB: not being sarcastic, I bet it really is a great story.)

Anonymous Rolf April 28, 2015 7:54 PM  

Earache my eye - the fact that it was stupid, crude, cynical affair is exactly the point of "his truth goes marching on." You understand it.

An excellent list. Many great stories in all the books. Spectacular, really.

Blogger Tom Kratman April 28, 2015 7:55 PM  

Dingdingding! By George, I think he's got it. Yes, "an exceedingly stupid, crude, cynical affair." "In space."

Blogger John Cunningham April 28, 2015 8:50 PM  

the Spanish Civil War was deeply rooted in conflicts in Spanish Society going back over a century. the involvement of outside powers affected it considerably, but it had Spanish roots.

Anonymous zen0 April 28, 2015 8:51 PM  

@ DJF

Its been less then 25 years since the Soviet Union collapsed and the US was unquestioned military leader, instead of just keeping steady progress and keeping our lead the US went on a transformational binge and in many areas is weaker then it was 25 years ago

Pentagon decisions are not based on strategic analysis of what is actually required for efficient war fighting, I suspect.

Blogger Godless Heathen April 28, 2015 10:16 PM  

@Tom Kratman

Tom, now that you're with a publisher unaverse to confrontation, is there any hope of your novels being delivered as you want them?

I seem to recall some mention of crucifixions in "The Watch on the Rhine" getting edited into hangings to make the book less unpalatable to Der Speigel and friends.

I'd certainly appreciate "Director's Cut" editions being available in the future. I expect your characters often make some hard choices that were cut.

Thank you.

Blogger So Meh April 28, 2015 11:11 PM  

just download the Kindle edition of Volume I. thanks for the recommendation.

Blogger Nate April 28, 2015 11:56 PM  

"Dingdingding! By George, I think he's got it. Yes, "an exceedingly stupid, crude, cynical affair." "In space." "

and yet... deeply satisfactory and entertaining.

Look War is fun. yes... its hell too... but its also fun.

Blogger Nate April 28, 2015 11:58 PM  

killing people and breaking things is fun. Always has been. Its so fun.. we had to develop rules to control the men we were gathering up to do it... lest they do to much it.

pretending otherwise is stupid.

war only sucks when you're not winning.

Anonymous Eric Ashley April 29, 2015 12:38 AM  

I would think when you are richer than Croseus, or desperate is the time to gamble on transformations. Now is a good time to experiment with wild ideas. Just keep it to a Blue Sky Division until it proofs out.

Blogger pyrrhus April 29, 2015 12:54 AM  

Gould was an avowed Marxist, so no further explanation of his crookery is necessary.

Anonymous Thobby April 29, 2015 1:47 AM  

Drake later expanded *Ranks of Bronze* to a novel with a more satisfying ending; if you like the novella, by all means seek out the whole story. On the other hand, I have always felt that "Ender's Game" worked much better as a short story than it ever did as a novel, much less the start of a series.

Blogger Poor Guy April 29, 2015 1:58 AM  

I was able to find "Superiority" online. It was really, really good. It made me feel better about my writer because it is pretty much all narrative. I write a little like that sometimes.

Blogger Poor Guy April 29, 2015 1:59 AM  

Thobby - I did like "Ender's Shadow" (OSC wanted to name it "Urchin")

Anonymous Holmwood April 29, 2015 2:01 AM  

Earache -- or Tom or Rolf or anyone, do you have any good suggestions for non-Marxist reading about the Spanish Civil War? I'm looking for something written that goes beyond "The international brigades were wonderful and evil corporations aligned with fascists to defeat freedom and communism is wonderful".

As with Vietnam, a lot of the history of that war seems written by SJW types or their ancestors.

Blogger Tom Kratman April 29, 2015 2:37 AM  

GH:

I really can't recall actually planning crucifixions in Watch. Now there was a mass crucifixion planned for The Lotus Eaters that I trimmed to a mass crucifixion (-). Baen pretty much lets me do what i want and when there is some suggestion that goes past that, it's open to argument, we do argue it, and sometimes I'm right and sometimes wrong.

Blogger Tom Kratman April 29, 2015 2:43 AM  

I seem to recall that Beevor's The Battle for Spain was fairly even handed, Been a while since I read it, though. If you look it up on Amazon I think the negative reviews reference some other books.

Anonymous jack April 29, 2015 10:30 AM  

Thobby April 29, 2015 1:47 AM

Dog gone it THANK YOU, Thobby. I will look that puppy up. Maybe it was with the same name, or near to it?

I need to perfect my collection of Drake writings, no doubt.

I love this blog....

Anonymous jack April 29, 2015 10:55 AM  

Just checked Ranks of Bronze, the novel, on Amazon. Its a dang series! I got the first book and will probably get the rest. Unless, in the unlikely event, is a piece of trash.

Anonymous R April 29, 2015 12:20 PM  

Just bought both of these. Thanks for posting.

Blogger camperbot April 29, 2015 2:01 PM  

Any ideas why I can't buy Vol I from Amazon? I bought Vol II and loved it but I would like Vol I as well obviously. It just says "pricing information not available." I am outside the US but that's never been a problem before.

Blogger Vox April 29, 2015 8:57 PM  

Any ideas why I can't buy Vol I from Amazon? I bought Vol II and loved it but I would like Vol I as well obviously. It just says "pricing information not available." I am outside the US but that's never been a problem before.

Amazon's system is acting up. We're working on it. You can buy the mobi from Castalia in the meantime.

Blogger camperbot April 30, 2015 8:04 AM  

Thank you Vox - will do.

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