The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century

This is another large collection of short stories edited by Harry Turtle dove with Martin Greenberg. However, compared to the other collection I reviewed here, this book had many great stories. The book contains a total of 13 short stories, three of which are predecessors for successful novels by their authors: Hero by Joe Haldeman is part of his Forever War novel; Ender’s Game is a short version of Orson Scott Card’s novel of the same name; and Dragonrider by Anne McCaffrey is one of her first Pern stories.

I really enjoyed all of the stories in this book but one. I did not like the story by Cordwainer Smith because it was difficult to follow and imagine and not too interesting. McCaffrey’s story was not high on my list either; I had never read any Pern novels, but the story was more about character interaction and creating the world of Pern than great military battles. Maybe the fact that the characters’ great enemy was pieces of a planet that passed Pern every so often and destroyed organic life also suppressed my interest, especially compared to the other stories in this collection.

I had read The Last Article by Turtledove before in a collection of alternate history stories. While I like this story and it has military themes in it, I think Turtledove was pushing it by including it here. It is most definitely alternate history and not military science fiction, and contrasts greatly with the other stories here.

Of the remaining stories I liked, I think Second Variety by Philip K. Dick and Wolf Time by Walter Jon Williams were my favorites. I have a collection of Dick short stories that I have not read yet; after reading Second Variety I am anxious to read more. I liked Williams tale so much I purchased the three books in his Drake Maijstral series from Amazon. One of the good things about this collection is that each story is prefaced with information about the author and his or her works if one wants to explore other books by a particular author.

For fans of good science fiction with military themes, this collection of short stories will give you many hours of reading pleasure.

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