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War Stories: New Military Science Fiction

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In War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, editors Andrew Liptak and Jaym Gates collects short stories by science fiction and fantasy authors dealing with the effects of war prior, during, and after battle to soldiers and their families. War is everywhere. Not only among the firefights, in the sweat dripping from heavy armor and the clenching grip on your weapon, but a In War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, editors Andrew Liptak and Jaym Gates collects short stories by science fiction and fantasy authors dealing with the effects of war prior, during, and after battle to soldiers and their families. War is everywhere. Not only among the firefights, in the sweat dripping from heavy armor and the clenching grip on your weapon, but also wedging itself deep into families, infiltrating our love letters, hovering in the air above our heads. It's in our dreams and our text messages. At times it roars with adrenaline, while at others it slips in silently so it can sit beside you until you forget it's there. Join Joe Haldeman, Linda Nagata, Karin Lowachee, Ken Liu, Jay Posey, and more as they take you on a tour of the battlefields, from those hurtling through space in spaceships and winding along trails deep in the jungle with bullets whizzing overhead, to the ones hiding behind calm smiles, waiting patiently to reveal itself in those quiet moments when we feel safest. War Stories brings us 23 stories of the impacts of war, showcasing the systems, combat, armor, and aftermath without condemnation or glorification. Instead, War Stories reveals the truth. War is what we are. Table of Contents: Foreword -- Gregory Drobny Graves -- Joe Haldeman Part 1: Wartime Systems In the Loop -- Ken Liu Ghost Girl -- Rich Larson The Radio -- Susan Jane Bigelow Contractual Obligation -- James L. Cambias The Wasp Keepers -- Mark Jacobsen Non-Standard Deviation -- Richard Dansky Part 2: Combat All You Need -- Mike Sizemore The Valkyrie -- Maurice Broaddus One Million Lira -- Thoraiya Dyer Invincible -- Jay Posey Light and Shadow -- Linda Nagata Part 3: Armored Force Warhosts -- Yoon Ha Lee Suits -- James Sutter Mission. Suit. Self. -- Jake Kerr In Loco -- Carlos Orsi Part 4: Aftermath War Dog -- Mike Barretta Coming Home -- Janine Spendlove Where We Would End a War -- F. Brett Cox Black Butterfly -- T.C. McCarthy Always the Stars and the Void Between -- Nerine Dorman Enemy States -- Karin Lowachee War 3.01 -- Keith Brooke Cover art by Galen Dara.


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In War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, editors Andrew Liptak and Jaym Gates collects short stories by science fiction and fantasy authors dealing with the effects of war prior, during, and after battle to soldiers and their families. War is everywhere. Not only among the firefights, in the sweat dripping from heavy armor and the clenching grip on your weapon, but a In War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, editors Andrew Liptak and Jaym Gates collects short stories by science fiction and fantasy authors dealing with the effects of war prior, during, and after battle to soldiers and their families. War is everywhere. Not only among the firefights, in the sweat dripping from heavy armor and the clenching grip on your weapon, but also wedging itself deep into families, infiltrating our love letters, hovering in the air above our heads. It's in our dreams and our text messages. At times it roars with adrenaline, while at others it slips in silently so it can sit beside you until you forget it's there. Join Joe Haldeman, Linda Nagata, Karin Lowachee, Ken Liu, Jay Posey, and more as they take you on a tour of the battlefields, from those hurtling through space in spaceships and winding along trails deep in the jungle with bullets whizzing overhead, to the ones hiding behind calm smiles, waiting patiently to reveal itself in those quiet moments when we feel safest. War Stories brings us 23 stories of the impacts of war, showcasing the systems, combat, armor, and aftermath without condemnation or glorification. Instead, War Stories reveals the truth. War is what we are. Table of Contents: Foreword -- Gregory Drobny Graves -- Joe Haldeman Part 1: Wartime Systems In the Loop -- Ken Liu Ghost Girl -- Rich Larson The Radio -- Susan Jane Bigelow Contractual Obligation -- James L. Cambias The Wasp Keepers -- Mark Jacobsen Non-Standard Deviation -- Richard Dansky Part 2: Combat All You Need -- Mike Sizemore The Valkyrie -- Maurice Broaddus One Million Lira -- Thoraiya Dyer Invincible -- Jay Posey Light and Shadow -- Linda Nagata Part 3: Armored Force Warhosts -- Yoon Ha Lee Suits -- James Sutter Mission. Suit. Self. -- Jake Kerr In Loco -- Carlos Orsi Part 4: Aftermath War Dog -- Mike Barretta Coming Home -- Janine Spendlove Where We Would End a War -- F. Brett Cox Black Butterfly -- T.C. McCarthy Always the Stars and the Void Between -- Nerine Dorman Enemy States -- Karin Lowachee War 3.01 -- Keith Brooke Cover art by Galen Dara.

30 review for War Stories: New Military Science Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trike

    This themed collection of stories is quite well done. The stories are placed in four groups: Wartime Systems (behind-the-lines or behind-the-scenes type of stories), Combat, Armored Force and Aftermath. If we're using SF as a telltale for the zeitgeist, which actually works pretty well (for instance, look at all the global warming stories done in the 1970s and 1980s before it really got onto the radar of the general public), then the things we have to look forward to are institutionalized warfare This themed collection of stories is quite well done. The stories are placed in four groups: Wartime Systems (behind-the-lines or behind-the-scenes type of stories), Combat, Armored Force and Aftermath. If we're using SF as a telltale for the zeitgeist, which actually works pretty well (for instance, look at all the global warming stories done in the 1970s and 1980s before it really got onto the radar of the general public), then the things we have to look forward to are institutionalized warfare, PTSD as part of everyday life and religious extremism of all stripes sweeping across the planet. Women soldiers seem to rule the day, as well. I think the majority of these stories featured women as the protagonist, which is a sea change. Considering that the week I'm writing this (last week in November, 2014) there have been numerous stories about the US Marines testing women soldiers for acceptance into their ranks as well as stories about institutionalized harassment of women in the military, this aspect feels timely to me. Of course, other nations have had women serve in combat roles for generations, and the US is behind the curve on this, but I live in America so it feels fresh to me. Overall the stories are terrific, and only starts to drag near the end. But that's actually true of real life, isn't it? Combat is very exciting, but dealing with the day-to-day realities of living with the consequences of battle are not. You've got to clean up, you've got to manage with less, and you have to care for those who have been wounded by war. Not just the soldiers but also those left behind. Let's break it down: GRAVES by Joe Haldeman, 5 stars -- this is a neo-classic short story by the master, concerning something being uncovered during the Vietnam War. (At first I thought the book was going to be all reprints like this, but the other 22 tales are original to this collection.) Although couched in terms of unleashing some supernatural something-or-other (it's not really clear what it is), this is pretty much a metaphor for PTSD. "Graves" is Haldeman at the top of his game, so it was risky of editors Gates and Liptak to put this first, as if throwing down the gauntlet. Fortunately the other stories mostly live up to it. IN THE LOOP by Ken Liu, 4 stars -- This story is about the fog of war and how trying to minimize casualties never works. It's also about how PTSD affects not just the soldiers but also their families, resulting in a perpetual cycle that's potentially impossible to break. For the trifecta, he also has perpetual war. I've heard a lot about Liu but not yet read anything by him. I'm definitely looking forward to more. (I bough the collection Upgraded, which has one of his stories in it, so that'll be my next exposure to his work.) GHOST GIRL by Rich Larson, 4 stars -- This could have gone in the fourth section, as well, as it deals with the aftermath of war and the way it twists people and cultures. Stories like this make you wonder why the hell we go to war in the first place. THE RADIO by Susan Jane Bigelow, 5 stars -- Some really solid storytelling here with a couple nice twists which really help fill out the world's backstory. Bigelow manages to cram a ton of stuff into a short amount of space, which is a feat that always amazes me. This story has a proper beginning, middle and end, a plethora of characters with diverse motives and personalities, solid worldbuilding and, despite taking place on a distant planet with high tech warrior cyborgs and the like, still manages to be a commentary on the current situation here on Earth. CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION by James L. Cambias, 5 stars -- This one is dark and scary. Talk about perpetual corporate-driven warfare! Oof. This is one of the few space-based tales here, and it's pretty much about how war and greed makes any peace we find transitory and illusory. THE WASP KEEPERS by Mark Jacobsen, 4 stars -- Written by a veteran who is currently making the Middle East his entire life, this has the terrifying feeling of inevitability, as if this is how war is going to look in the not-too-distant future. Despite the advances in technology we're still going to have the same problems and make the same mistakes, we'll just do it for different reasons. Also, utter loss of privacy as a bonus nightmare. NON-STANDARD DEVIATION by Richard Dansky, 4 stars -- This one is about an AI programmed for war games so we can make better soldiers. (view spoiler)[Like the classic 1983 movie WarGames where the computer learns that "The only winning move is not to play," the AI here comes to the same conclusion. Sadly, humans find a way to pervert that to their own ends to continue war. (hide spoiler)] ALL YOU NEED by Mike Sizemore, 4 stars -- This was the first story that edged into the "literary" side of the equation, but managed to stay on my good side by being interesting and not overstaying its welcome. It also has a couple interesting characters which, although we've seen their like before, are intriguing enough to hang around with. THE VALKYRIE by Maurice Broaddus, 3 stars -- This was the first story in the collection to talk about how religion extremism is sweeping through the Western cultures. The war here is against the heathens and atheists of Europe, as the righteous Americans come to deliver the message of God by the sword of the Lord. As someone who checked out of religion decades ago and has watched as seemingly-rational friends and family members become ever more radicalized, this is a terrifying future. The only reason I didn't give it 4 stars is because it felt a bit too extreme. But then I thought that about The Handmaid's Tale 30 years ago, and in some parts of America that thing is dangerously close to coming true, so who knows? ONE MILLION LIRA by Thoraiya Dyer, 5 stars -- This is powerful stuff that feels like it could have taken place during the Siege of Stalingrad during WWII or could be happening today in Gaza. The sci-fi elements are completely secondary here, which isn't a bad thing, but it certainly makes its impact all the more devastating. Two snipers, the old mentor versus the former student, both the best at what they do, forced to make horrendous choices because of the stupidity of politics. INVINCIBLE by Jay Posey, 4 stars -- I have Posey's novel Three in my to-read pile, and if the writing is like this, I'll enjoy it. This is uncomplicated, straightforward stuff but takes a look at PTSD in a new way that's only possible through science fiction. Even when soldiers appear normal to the outside and are able to function normally, they can still be hurting. LIGHT AND SHADOW by Linda Nagata, 3 stars -- This is a nice companion piece to the Posey story, and coming right after it they almost feel carved from the same idea-marble: PTSD that we bury under layers of technology. In Nagata's story it's via an emotion-controlling skullcap, whereas we do it today through prescription mood stabilizers. it's not hard to see the metaphor here. I also have Nagata's novel First Light in my to-read pile, so it's nice to know I at least like her writing going into it. WARHOSTS by Yoon Ha Lee, 1 star -- This was the weakest entry for me. It was too vague, too literary, too sidelong. Once Lee circles around to her point, you pretty much already get it, and the style didn't do anything for me. SUITS by James Sutter, 3 stars -- I'm kind of torn by this one, almost giving it 2 stars, but the writing is good enough to warrant the extra star. i like the worldbuilding and the idea of using the genetically engineered mechanics as stand-ins for losing our innocence about war, but it felt almost the polar opposite of the Lee story, which was too oblique; here it's all surface. MISSION. SUIT. SELF. by Jake Kerr, 3 stars -- This does a nice job of detailing the second-guessing nature of one's choices in war, but I didn't really buy into the main character's solution. IN LOCO by Carlos Orci, 3 stars -- This is kind of interesting idea of a Europe devastated by a broken economy and extreme weather, but it almost felt like too much of a throwback to me. The contrast between high tech and primitive society works because of the way Orci has constructed it, and the reveals and turnabouts play together nicely. Maybe I should rate it higher, I don't know. WAR DOG by Mike Barretta, 5 stars -- Another story by a veteran with religious extremism front and center. There's a lot of religion among the military guys I know, but this is getting scary. Barretta also throws in a second American Civil War just for fun. There are so many scary things about this story and I suppose if you really wanted to you could find a ton of themed parallels with today's world (biological warfare, PTSD, the political polarization of the US, gays in the military as represented by the titular character), but it works so well on its own that you don't even need to do that. I'd actually love to read an entire book set in this world, despite the fact I know it'd be depressing as hell. COMING HOME by Janine Spendlove, 2 stars -- Argh, so close to being great! Another veteran entry, this one deals with the trauma of PTSD front and center and it's so good right up until the too-pat ending. If Spendlove had simply left out the little coda at the end it would've been far more powerful. Although she struggles with the present-day stuff of portraying the problems that plague a soldier's subconscious, Spendlove does set up the combat parts of the story nicely to get us there. If only it weren't for that dumb sitcom ending where everything is wrapped up by the end of the 22 minutes. WHERE WOULD WE END A WAR by F. Brett Cox, 3 stars -- This is not exactly PTSD but more like getting used to combat. The tech of the transporter works as the metaphor for war changing you, so we can talk about how some soldiers become addicted to the thing that scared them most, not unlike the message in the Oscar-winning movie The Hurt Locker. BLACK BUTTERFLY by T.C. McCarthy, 4 stars -- The brutality of war is writ large here, but even worse is how we treat our returning veterans. ALWAYS THE STARS AND THE VOID IN BETWEEN by Nerine Dorman, 3 stars -- Again, similar to The Hurt Locker in that we have a soldier who finds she no longer fits in at home and is unappreciated, despite the fact it's her paycheck that actually allows the home to function. ENEMY STATES by Karin Lowachee, 2 stars -- When stories start veering too close to the literary my eyes start to glaze over. I was disappointed by this tale, since it hits the same note as Lowachee's excellent installment in Armored, but doesn't do it nearly as well. The characters are gay, I think, but it's not explicit. I don't see the need to be coy about this topic. WAR 3.01 by Keith Brooke, 5 stars -- Big finish! This feels like what a real Information War would be like: over in microseconds and tailored to each person. Not just because it's set in London (but that didn't hurt), I'm rather reminded of The Who lyric, "Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss/Won't get fooled again!" But they do. Kind of like falling for the most impressive phishing email ever. Also: religious war.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Kemp

    I really loved this fantastic collection of short stories. They are well laid out with a set of general themes, and they cover a wide range of perspectives and points of view. What first attracted me to this was that there was a short story by Linda Nagata set in the same universe as her The Red: First Light novel. I'd enjoyed that so much that I was keen to read more, hence funding the kickstarter. Having read it I think I'll need to go look up some more of those authors and add them to my read I really loved this fantastic collection of short stories. They are well laid out with a set of general themes, and they cover a wide range of perspectives and points of view. What first attracted me to this was that there was a short story by Linda Nagata set in the same universe as her The Red: First Light novel. I'd enjoyed that so much that I was keen to read more, hence funding the kickstarter. Having read it I think I'll need to go look up some more of those authors and add them to my reading list. Not one of the stories in the collection seemed like it didn't belong there, and all of them had something novel and engaging about them. Themes covered were wider than I would have expected as well. From memory these included dealing with the aftermath, deliberate commission of genocide, post-traumatic stress, genetic enhancement of people conscripted, wars fought at a distance with the civilian population at home unaware. Also the last one, which I only read on the way into work this morning was about cyber warfare, which I thought was particularly inspired, because it had a heavy psychological element. Also many of the stories passed the Bechdel test, there were many female characters (perhaps even a majority of leads, but I haven't counted) and also a fair number of orientations and preferences on show. A handful of characters were identified as from ethnic minorities, and a fair number of others were ambiguous in that regard. So anyone looking for fiction that represents the population at large (and not purely the white male perspective) might find this worth a look on that respect. Although the excellent quality of the fiction should be enough on its own. Overall I'd recommend this very highly to anyone that enjoys speculative fiction or military stories.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Don’t read this book. Several authors are veterans; all are humans. War is about us all, even though 99% of us don’t realize it. (see below) Future war will be so different than wars as recent as Vietnam and Southwest Asia that we won’t recognize them. There may not be front lines or safe havens or non-combatants. But they’ll share something with all wars: they will dehumanize their participants at the same time they demand (and get) superhuman sacrifice and heroism. My experience with anthologie Don’t read this book. Several authors are veterans; all are humans. War is about us all, even though 99% of us don’t realize it. (see below) Future war will be so different than wars as recent as Vietnam and Southwest Asia that we won’t recognize them. There may not be front lines or safe havens or non-combatants. But they’ll share something with all wars: they will dehumanize their participants at the same time they demand (and get) superhuman sacrifice and heroism. My experience with anthologies hasn’t been good. Usually they turn out to be the dumping ground for third-rate material by first-rate authors, or the best of third-rate authors. Don’t let way this book dangles Joe Haldeman’s name as if they have no one else any good. There’s meat on these bones. I told you not to read this book. I shouldn’t have either, but I’m glad I did. (More on my blog asamatteroffancy.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Weimer

    Military science fiction is as old as science fiction itself. If we include alternate history under that umbrella of science fiction, there are alternate histories 2000 years old, with Roman writers musing how Alexander the Great might have fared had he lived to turn his attention to Italy. H.G. Wells wrote novels such as The War in the Air and stories like “The Land Ironclads,” the latter a bit of speculative fiction that would precede the invention of the tank by 20 years. In the 1980’s, Jerry Military science fiction is as old as science fiction itself. If we include alternate history under that umbrella of science fiction, there are alternate histories 2000 years old, with Roman writers musing how Alexander the Great might have fared had he lived to turn his attention to Italy. H.G. Wells wrote novels such as The War in the Air and stories like “The Land Ironclads,” the latter a bit of speculative fiction that would precede the invention of the tank by 20 years. In the 1980’s, Jerry Pournelle created nine volumes of war story anthologies, the There Will be War series. Still, Military SF does not immediate come to everyone’s mind as being their cup of tea, and there are those who have never thought to pick up any Militray SF title. To quote the old sit-in song: “War, what is it good for?” Providing an interesting framework for a particular class of SF, that’s what. In a 21st century of IEDs and drones, of asymmetrical warfare and PTSD concerns, Military SF is as relevant as ever, if not even more so. In an age where the effects of war are very unevenly distributed, understanding war through the lens of SF is important and relevant. With those ideas in mind, Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak have combined forces to create War Stories, a crowdfunded anthology of Military SF. Liptak has an MA in Military History while Gates has extensive editorial experience. Together they make an excellent team, and together they have brought a fine collection of writers to explore military science fiction for the modern age. One of the strongest aspects to the anthology is the breadth of topics and authors on display here. A military SF anthology would be easy to fill with the “usual suspects” who write in the subgenre on a regular basis, and some of the names in the anthology certainly fit that profile. However, the editors have taken a lot of care and effort in making this not only a balanced anthology in terms of gender and diversity, but including authors you might not immediately expect to write Military SF, such as Ken Liu, Yoon Ha Lee and Susan Jane Bigelow. This is one of the abiding strengths of the collection and help make the anthology relevant and interesting to a wider audience. The stories in this anthology have a strong focus on the protagonists and the costs and consequences of war. Some of the stories provide a lot of the glossy technological intricacy of war, true, but its the people and their stories that make the stories in War Stories truly excellent. Some of the story highlights of the collection for me include the folowing: Linda Nagata has been carving out a new act in her SF writing career with military SF such as The Red: First Light. In “Light and Shadow” she continues to refine her Military SF credentials and skills. “Light and Shadow” features a conflict between duty and the dangers of a technology that makes you a better soldier, at a cost to one’s own soul. In “Warhosts,” Yoon Ha Lee brings us a delightfully unusual and otherwordly perspective to a very formalized sort of war, with alien biology and alien psychology rendered in beautiful and well-crafted miniature. T.C McCarthy’s “Black Butterflies” is a bitter, unflinching story about the survivor of an interstellar battle, the guilt that a loser in a conflict carries, and the costs he must bear when the consequences of that battle come home. Karin Lowachee’s penultimate story in the collection (“Enemy States”) is all about the social aspect of the war and takes us through a civilian’s relationship with a soldier. The emotional beats as we see the ups, downs, highs and heartbreaks of Jake’s relationship with his soldier lover, Tuvi, moved me to tears. I really think this story should have been the closer to the anthology. Given the diversity of the collection, and the authors involved, anyone remotely interested in the topic of military science fiction who wasn’t a backer of the project should see about getting themselves a copy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    I didn't have strong feelings about this book going in. It was a Kickstarter campaign towards which I had contributed. I liked the ideas going into this anthology. I wasn't sure what would come out of it. I was pleasantly impressed. Pleasant isn't the right word, when so many of the stories deal with the pain and scarring of combat, but call it positively impressed. This collection takes a very honest and thoughtful look at the lives of soldiers and warriors before, during, and after the conflic I didn't have strong feelings about this book going in. It was a Kickstarter campaign towards which I had contributed. I liked the ideas going into this anthology. I wasn't sure what would come out of it. I was pleasantly impressed. Pleasant isn't the right word, when so many of the stories deal with the pain and scarring of combat, but call it positively impressed. This collection takes a very honest and thoughtful look at the lives of soldiers and warriors before, during, and after the conflict, what it means to devote your entire talents to combat, and what toll that has on one's psyche. In many anthologies, the best work is stacked towards the beginning; once you've read the first couple of pieces you get the feeling you've read the best of what the book has to offer. Not so in "War Stories." It helps that the book is organized thematically in three major sections. More than that, the stories included are consistently good throughout the book. I'd recommend this book to anyone. Its insight to the future of war has plenty to say for all the conflict happening our world today.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    War Stories is a pretty big collection of fiction. You really can't go wrong with 23 action packed tales running the timeline of war from Vietnam and into the far off future. You get a little of everything- horror, conspiracy, science fiction, and fantasy all rolled into one. I don't think there is a dud in the collection. Some stories ended a bit differently than I expected but it made sense and fit with the story. Some notable stories for me- Ghost Girl by Rich Larson, The Radio by Susan Jane B War Stories is a pretty big collection of fiction. You really can't go wrong with 23 action packed tales running the timeline of war from Vietnam and into the far off future. You get a little of everything- horror, conspiracy, science fiction, and fantasy all rolled into one. I don't think there is a dud in the collection. Some stories ended a bit differently than I expected but it made sense and fit with the story. Some notable stories for me- Ghost Girl by Rich Larson, The Radio by Susan Jane Bigelow, The Valkyrie by Maurice Broaddus, and Invincible by Jay Posey. I could go on but listing all the stories as impressive should be clear with the 5 star rating. A big high five to the editors for gathering a massive amount of talent here too.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kim Ward

    There is only one story in this whole book that I read and went "meh..." (and I won't say which) and the rest are stellar. The vision of the writers and scope of war experience was solid and inventive, while the many stories of how human experience and damage simply cannot be taken out of war were right on the mark in my opinion. It is clear from this book just how haunted our culture currently is (and no doubt will be for some time to come) from our current 'war on terror.' There is only one story in this whole book that I read and went "meh..." (and I won't say which) and the rest are stellar. The vision of the writers and scope of war experience was solid and inventive, while the many stories of how human experience and damage simply cannot be taken out of war were right on the mark in my opinion. It is clear from this book just how haunted our culture currently is (and no doubt will be for some time to come) from our current 'war on terror.'

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    Enjoyable collection. Reviewed with a couple other collections here. Enjoyable collection. Reviewed with a couple other collections here.

  9. 5 out of 5

    mad mags

    Buy it for “War Dog.” (Seriously!) (Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers program.) War Stories is pretty hefty military SF anthology that boasts a wonderfully diverse group of authors, including veterans and active duty military personnel. The twenty-three stories in this timely collection tackle contemporary issues (drones and robotization of war; privacy rights; colonialism; PTSD) with an eye to the future. The result is a rather Buy it for “War Dog.” (Seriously!) (Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers program.) War Stories is pretty hefty military SF anthology that boasts a wonderfully diverse group of authors, including veterans and active duty military personnel. The twenty-three stories in this timely collection tackle contemporary issues (drones and robotization of war; privacy rights; colonialism; PTSD) with an eye to the future. The result is a rather imaginative glimpse into the future of warfare, and the impact these changes (and sometimes, lack thereof) have on all those involved: soldiers, civilians, robots, clones, and, yes, even aliens. As is usually the case with anthologies, the stories were rather hit and miss for me. Michael Barretta’s “War Dog” is easily my favorite of the bunch. It’s difficult to boil this masterpiece down into a pithy little sound bite, but let’s just say that it’s not what I expected. In the future Christian States of America, some veterans are welcomed back into the fold (assuming they’re not atheists, heathens, or homosexuals), while others – those having undergone more extreme genetic modifications – are put down like the dogs they’re widely assumed to be. “War Dog” is a weird, bittersweet, ill-fated romance between two veterans on different sides of the human/animal divide. It’s lovely and heartfelt and will hit you right in the feels. (Trigger warning for rape.) I also quite enjoyed: “Ghost Girl” (Rich Larson) – An ex-soldier currently employed by the government as a social worker of sorts tries to help save an albino scavenger girl named Belize from being kidnapped and sold for parts by muti hunters. Instead, he finds the consciousness of a vanished rebel fighter (“the Razor”) hiding in her protector, and old imfizi drone. “The Wasp Keepers” (Mark Jacobsen) – A future Syria, laboring under U.S. occupation, in which peace is enforced at the tip of a poisonous drone wasp. Freedom, traded for harmony. Against this landscape, a former revolutionary rediscovers herself after the death of her father and son. “Suits” (James L. Sutter) – This one reminded me of the various CSI episodes where the techs, finally allowed out in the field, return somewhat disillusioned by what they observe beyond the cozy confines of their labs. Just swap out David Hodges for a clone and his mobile lab for a Lockheed Martin IGA Combat Exoskeleton. “In Loco” (Carlos Orsi) – The narrator, a felon who’s shaving a few years off his prison sentence by serving as the single “in loco” soldier in a troop otherwise comprised entirely of robots, is on a peacekeeping mission in Scandinavia when his convoy is disabled and robbed. Guilt-stricken over the loss of essential medical supplies, he challenges the leader of the raiding barbarian group to a fight to the death – and, through compassion and mercy, unexpectedly finds strength and a new purpose in life. “Black Butterflies” (T.C. McCarthy) – Haunted by acts of genocide he committed as one of the human controllers of the Black Butterfly drones in the war against the Siphs, Nick returns home to help his ailing father save what’s left of his farm. But his Siph overlords, no matter how temporary their reign may be, are tracking down the Listman war criminals one by one – and Nick is at the top of their list. “Always the Stars and the Void Between” (Nerine Dorman) – Having served half her 34 years with the African Federation, fighting interplanetary wars in space to keep humans safe on Earth, Rachel comes home only to find her own formerly happy family in shambles. “Enemy State” (Karin Lowachee) – In a kind of stream-of-consciousness narrative, Jake remembers his nearly one-year relationship with Tuvi, a soldier who’s now MIA in space (“You’ve been gone for longer than we were together.”). Beautiful, lyrical, and heart-wrenching, the story is brimming with memorable lines that are as relatable as they are extraordinary. Most of the rest of the stories okay, with just two that fell completely flat for me, and one that elicited strong feelings of dislike (“Mission. Suit. Self.”). Actually, “dislike” is a bit of an understatement; I found it downright offensive, actually. Are we really meant to root for the soldier who mows down dozens of “hostile natives” to rescue a group of five hippies who had no business being in an unsanctioned satellite village, let alone on a planet whose residents don’t want them there anyway? (Colonialism, yay?) http://www.easyvegan.info/2014/11/03/...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Dhu

    One of the many contradictions in my life is that I am somewhat of a pacifist (short version: only violence as a last-option self-defense response) who sometimes enjoys reading milsff - both the fantasy/historical fantasy type and the harder science fiction type. Most of my favourite milsff has been written by women, and some of it has been milsff that is deeply critical of war and its consequences. One such author is Karin Lowachee, whose military sf trilogy (Warchild, Cagebird, Burndive) is a p One of the many contradictions in my life is that I am somewhat of a pacifist (short version: only violence as a last-option self-defense response) who sometimes enjoys reading milsff - both the fantasy/historical fantasy type and the harder science fiction type. Most of my favourite milsff has been written by women, and some of it has been milsff that is deeply critical of war and its consequences. One such author is Karin Lowachee, whose military sf trilogy (Warchild, Cagebird, Burndive) is a powerful examination of the phenomenon of the child soldier. In fact, it was Lowachee's name in the ToC of the milsff anthology War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, edited by Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak, that made me decide to read it. And I am glad I did, because this is a collection of very good war stories, told with an awareness of the costs and consequences of war. War Stories is a crowd-funded anthology, published by Apex. Part of the project description from the Kickstarter page says: "War Stories isn't an anthology of bug hunts and unabashed jingoism. It's a look at the people ordered into impossible situations, asked to do the unthinkable, and those unable to escape from hell. It's stories of courage under fire, and about the difficulties in making decisions that we normally would never make. It's about what happens when the shooting stops, and before any trigger is ever pulled." The anthology opens with the award-winning story Graves by Joe Haldeman, which serves as a kind of theme piece for the remainder of the book. Haldeman, himself a veteran of the American military involvement in Vietnam, tells a story about an American Vietnam vet whose job was to collect and process the bodies of fallen American soldiers for return to the U.S., and the circumstances of one particular incident that has lived on in his nightmares for 20 years. The other stories are divided into four themed sections - Wartime Systems, Combat, Armored Force and Aftermath. What binds them all together is a focus on the characters, their motivations for and reactions to those impossible, unthinkable, inescapable situations. The stories are told from varied perspectives - front-line warriors and support personnel, officers and grunts and solitary specialists, victors and vanquished, participants and civilians, the occupied and the occupiers, those who came home and those who did not (and those who, having come hone, could not stay), those who went to war and those who waited behind. And all written with clarity and power.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Louis

    War Stories is an anthology that explores man at war. What I liked about the series is the range on who is portrayed. It always remembers that war is an opposed contest, and that even when one side has many, many advantages, war rewards those who have ingenuity and creativity. The stories it tells is not about battles, but about individual combatants. The experiences they have at being both the one bringing creativity and resourcefullness into the fight, and the ones being on the receiving end o War Stories is an anthology that explores man at war. What I liked about the series is the range on who is portrayed. It always remembers that war is an opposed contest, and that even when one side has many, many advantages, war rewards those who have ingenuity and creativity. The stories it tells is not about battles, but about individual combatants. The experiences they have at being both the one bringing creativity and resourcefullness into the fight, and the ones being on the receiving end of creativity and resourcefulness. There are those on both sides of technological and resource advantages, Two things stand apart from most military sci-fi. First is while technology plays a role, the role of a human with desires, motivations, and cravings is at center. The authors use their military backgrounds to bring the sense of the human into the stories. This is in contrast to stories where one side is overwhelming technologically or where the shock and awe take center stage. The characters know they are not paragons of virtue, nor are they special as warriors, just people who do their duty, and in many cases there is a life to look forward to when their duty is done. The second is the diversity of the people. Much of military sci-fi focuses on a not very disguised U.S. (and white male at that) as protagonist. These stories have an international, multi-ethnic, both gender feels to them. And it is not pointed out, in every case it is treated as a fact of life. Thoroughly enjoyed the stories. And I look forward to more projects like this.

  12. 5 out of 5

    James

    A great collection of 23 short military science fiction stories by authors established and new, including Joe Haldeman (author of the great and moving books The Forever War and All My Sins Remembered.) The book is divided into four parts (plus Haldeman's story between the foreword and Part I): Wartime Systems, Combat, Armored Force, and Aftermath. It's easy to tell that a lot of the authors are veterans or active military, and along with the action, social and environmental issues, and ideas abou A great collection of 23 short military science fiction stories by authors established and new, including Joe Haldeman (author of the great and moving books The Forever War and All My Sins Remembered.) The book is divided into four parts (plus Haldeman's story between the foreword and Part I): Wartime Systems, Combat, Armored Force, and Aftermath. It's easy to tell that a lot of the authors are veterans or active military, and along with the action, social and environmental issues, and ideas about future possibilities, various stories deal with relationships and post-traumatic stress (as might be guessed from the headings of the second and fourth sections.) Some are eerily weird and edge into horror, some are gripping, some are deeply sad, and some are more thought-provoking than anything else. The editors (Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak) did an outstanding job, and the stories they chose are a well-rounded assortment with (I thought) not a clinker in the bunch, unusual in an anthology of this size. Well done, and I will be looking forward to more from a lot of these writers and these editors!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kristjón

    A solid collection of stories that portray war through the various lenses of its different authors. I'm halfway through it and so far every one of the stories I've read are top notch, interesting and of the finest quality. A solid collection of stories that portray war through the various lenses of its different authors. I'm halfway through it and so far every one of the stories I've read are top notch, interesting and of the finest quality.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Overall, a great collection of military themed SF short stories. There were a few which had LGBTQ themes (which I think might have been a goal of the collection) shoehorned in, but others with those themes where it actually worked, and others which were exploring other issues. Overall about half of the stories were excellent, which is a great ratio for a collection.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    Excellent Military SciFi that causes the reader to stop and think and consider what soldiers face.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scott Whitmore

    Featuring stories by Joe Haldeman, Linda Nagata, Karin Lowachee, Ken Liu and Jake Kerr, among others, War Stories is a must-have for any fan of the military/sci-fi and sci-fi genres. Like every other anthology I’ve ever picked up, there were a few stories that didn’t resonate with me, but overall the book is packed with stories that are in turns action-packed, imaginative, exciting, thought-provoking and just plain fun. There is a lot of diversity throughout these stories, with a lot of variety Featuring stories by Joe Haldeman, Linda Nagata, Karin Lowachee, Ken Liu and Jake Kerr, among others, War Stories is a must-have for any fan of the military/sci-fi and sci-fi genres. Like every other anthology I’ve ever picked up, there were a few stories that didn’t resonate with me, but overall the book is packed with stories that are in turns action-packed, imaginative, exciting, thought-provoking and just plain fun. There is a lot of diversity throughout these stories, with a lot of variety in location, time period, main characters and the type of storytelling employed. I especially enjoyed Haldeman’s “Graves,” as well as “Light and Shadow” by Nagata, a story set in the same universe as her “The Red” trilogy. “The Radio” by Susan Jane Bigelow, “Suits” by James Sutter, “Mission. Suit. Self” from Kerr, and “War Dog” by Mike Barretta were also very good. I’ve had War Stories on my Kindle for quite some time ¬— this review is based on the copy I received for supporting the Kickstarter campaign — but when I first got it I was reading something else. Then it slid back to the end of the queue as new books were added ¬and it dropped off my radar — a problem that happens all too frequently. But a couple weeks ago I made it a point to go back through the unread books on my device and seeing the distinctive cover I remembered how much I had been looking forward to War Stories. So I opened it up and have been reading one or two stories a night since, savoring them and even re-reading a couple until, sadly, there were no more. Truth time: when this anthology was announced I really, really wanted to be a part of it. I submitted a story for consideration, and sat back to wait. Eventually an email arrived from the editors saying my entry was strong and made it into the final round of selection, but there was only so much space in the book. I appreciated those kind words but it wouldn’t be wrong to say my disappointment may have played a part in why I didn’t crack this open when I first got it. Hey, I’m only human. :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    War Stories knows precisely what it is. This is an anthology of infantry stories: bleak stories about mud and dust and void, moral ambiguity, and psychological trauma. Grouping the stories into Wartime Systems, Combat, Armored Force, and Aftermath is a wise editorial choice. The usual technological suspects are all here: drones, powered armor, combat drugs and cyborg soldiers. However, the stories are of universally high quality and each of them manages to say something interesting about the tec War Stories knows precisely what it is. This is an anthology of infantry stories: bleak stories about mud and dust and void, moral ambiguity, and psychological trauma. Grouping the stories into Wartime Systems, Combat, Armored Force, and Aftermath is a wise editorial choice. The usual technological suspects are all here: drones, powered armor, combat drugs and cyborg soldiers. However, the stories are of universally high quality and each of them manages to say something interesting about the technology of warfare. This is military science fiction at its most thoughtful. When reviewing an anthology, I always like to lift out a couple of exceptional stories, and I loved "Warhosts" by Yoon Ha Lee and "War Dog" by Mike Barretta as eerie, imaginative, biopunk inspired meditations on combat, surviving, and winning. That said, thematic coherence is a two edged sword, and while I agree with the stance that this anthology takes towards warfare, by the end I wanted a little more diversity. Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak aimed to deconstruct the Starship Troopers/Baen machismo typical of the genre, but I think there's still space for a little humor, absurdity, even glory in the future of war. And if you don't like the politics I've laid out at the top of this review, you'll hate this collection. Forewarned is forearmed. My second criticism is that while the grunts are the heart of war, they aren't the only people who fight. We could've used a little more on pilots, sailors, officers, strategists, diplomats, and drill sergeants. Don't let these minor gripes turn you away: this is a amazing book, and a worthy companion to The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David

    I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/13475438 Let me state up front that I received an eBook edition of this book as an early reviewer's giveaway through LibraryThing. It has long been my contention that writing a "good" short story is harder than writing a "good" book. In a short story you cannot "waste" pages supplying a back story, explaining the motives of the major characters, or, in science fiction and fantasy stories, describing the universe. As a resul I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/13475438 Let me state up front that I received an eBook edition of this book as an early reviewer's giveaway through LibraryThing. It has long been my contention that writing a "good" short story is harder than writing a "good" book. In a short story you cannot "waste" pages supplying a back story, explaining the motives of the major characters, or, in science fiction and fantasy stories, describing the universe. As a result, many anthologies are rather a hit and miss affair. And so is this collection, but thankfully not only are there more hits than misses, but the number of stories contained in it (23) means that once you have finished all the stories the misses tend to be swept under the carpet by better stories. The stories are divided into four grouped themes: Wartime Systems, Combat, Armoured Force, and Aftermath. Traditionally my tastes in science fiction would generally have followed this order if I had to state my preferences for sub-themes. It was therefore somewhat surprising and to discover the first story in the Aftermath section, "War Dog". This story is simply amazing, with the reader discovering on every page a change in direction and theme, until the final, sorrowful yet strangely beautiful, ending. It is a story that should be approached with an open mind, and no preconceived hint of its content. Also of note are "Suits", "In Loco", "Black Butterflies", and the story which serves as an introduction to the book, "Graves" by Joe Haldeman. The overall theme? War is us, and we are all scarred by it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Saphirablue

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. As always with anthologies - there are some stories I love, some I didn't like and some that I like/are okay. I really liked that the stories are separated into themes. I personally love the stories in the "Armored Force" and "Aftermath" sections the most but some of the stories in the other sections are also incredible. I really, really love that there are so many different/diverse characters and backgrounds. There are female and male soldiers. There are near future to distant future stories. Sam As always with anthologies - there are some stories I love, some I didn't like and some that I like/are okay. I really liked that the stories are separated into themes. I personally love the stories in the "Armored Force" and "Aftermath" sections the most but some of the stories in the other sections are also incredible. I really, really love that there are so many different/diverse characters and backgrounds. There are female and male soldiers. There are near future to distant future stories. Same-sex and opposite-sex couples (and even stories without lovestory/couples). Stories set on Earth and on distant planets. There are white and non-white characters. Stories in which it is easy to tell if you are reading about the "bad guys" or the "good guys" and stories in which it is not to tell at all. Stories that are perfect just the way they are and stories that make you long for more. There are stories that scare you because they could happen in reality and stories that scare you because you are reading a good science fiction story. I love that sometimes "war" doesn't mean battles and firefights and so on. War can also be something happening on a computer screen or in your head/mind/feelings. War impacts everyone on a different level and just because someone doesn't have visible scars doesn't mean that they aren't there. Some of these stories will stay with me for a while.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marcheto Marcheto

    3.5 stars I’m not a fan of Military Science Fiction, but when I saw among the contributors of this anthology some authors I like and that I don’t associate with that kind of fiction I thought that maybe this stories would be something different. And I was right, as what we find here is a bunch of stories dealing more with personal and moral conflicts during and after the war, than revolving around battles and the war itself. Although I liked some stories better than others, of course, I found tha 3.5 stars I’m not a fan of Military Science Fiction, but when I saw among the contributors of this anthology some authors I like and that I don’t associate with that kind of fiction I thought that maybe this stories would be something different. And I was right, as what we find here is a bunch of stories dealing more with personal and moral conflicts during and after the war, than revolving around battles and the war itself. Although I liked some stories better than others, of course, I found that the level was more uniform than usual in this kind of book. This was not bad, as it meant that there was only one story I actually dislike, but on the other hand it wasn’t so good, as I didn’t find any of them impressive either, with most of the stories in the OK range, and a few in the good or pretty good one. The stories are divided in four groups according to its theme (Wartime Systems, Combat, Armored Force and Aftermath), which a priori seemed a good idea, so I read them in order. But if I were to read this book again, I would probably jump from one group to another, to avoid a slight feeling of repetition. Despite the aforementioned problems, I enjoyed most of the stories, and my favorites were those by Ken Liu, Yoon Ha Lee, Carlos Orsi and Keith Brooke. All in all, an interesting and worth-reading anthology for any SF fans, although not memorable.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Keelia

    I was really intrigued to start reading this book, and I was not disappointed. War Stories is a series of groundbreaking short stories in the military science fiction realm-- not only because these are interesting, dark stories that relate to science fiction and combat, but also because of the focus on what war does to people. I have read a fair amount of science fiction and fantasy. Never have I read anything that bluntly talks about veterans and the aftereffects of war on the human mind, until I was really intrigued to start reading this book, and I was not disappointed. War Stories is a series of groundbreaking short stories in the military science fiction realm-- not only because these are interesting, dark stories that relate to science fiction and combat, but also because of the focus on what war does to people. I have read a fair amount of science fiction and fantasy. Never have I read anything that bluntly talks about veterans and the aftereffects of war on the human mind, until now. This genre is a perfect field for discussing these important issues because storytelling is the best way to learn and empathize with others, and in a society today where our solutions involve silence and apathy even when it is destructive toward those who protect/ed us, reading about the near future and the fact that we will always be dealing with this issue for as long as we have war forces the reader to confront the problems even as they are enjoying the story. I would recommend this book to every science fiction fan out there, and even those who aren't that into science fiction can learn from the stories here.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jacen

    Quite a good collection. The over arching theme of war is broken down into sections within the anthology, each representing a particular aspect of war in their thematic colouring. Generally (no pub intended) I find that anthologies do a rather disparate job of hemming together stories with a theme this one does it quite well with the theme maintained through-out and quite obviously so. Like always there are stronger stories and there are weaker stories in this book, but I feel there will be som Quite a good collection. The over arching theme of war is broken down into sections within the anthology, each representing a particular aspect of war in their thematic colouring. Generally (no pub intended) I find that anthologies do a rather disparate job of hemming together stories with a theme this one does it quite well with the theme maintained through-out and quite obviously so. Like always there are stronger stories and there are weaker stories in this book, but I feel there will be something for everyone, war is tackled in action packed ways focusing mostly on the physical acts of war itself, and on much more cerebral levels such as what those acts do to change people for the better or the worse and how they cope with it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    I enjoyed this very much. It's a collection of military-based Science fiction stories, primarily written in 2014, with one older than that. I had heard of a few of the authors, but most were unknown to me, and that opens up a set of new works to be explored. Most of the stories were well done, but a few, in my opinion, were of the complicated and stylistic sort that makes them impenetrable to reader. But as I said, most were good to great. Well worth reading. The sort of book you can re-read lat I enjoyed this very much. It's a collection of military-based Science fiction stories, primarily written in 2014, with one older than that. I had heard of a few of the authors, but most were unknown to me, and that opens up a set of new works to be explored. Most of the stories were well done, but a few, in my opinion, were of the complicated and stylistic sort that makes them impenetrable to reader. But as I said, most were good to great. Well worth reading. The sort of book you can re-read later, just for one or two stories, and as I said, a great gateway to a whole new group of authors.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ceh131973

    As a military fiction fan and a sci fi fan this was the best of both worlds in one. I loved how most of the stories were from either a LBGT perspective or a female one. Also the various views of war from authors(and in a lot of cases) soldiers from not only different branches but different countries. There were one or two stories that were very difficult to read because their wordiness caused them to be pretentious and drag on(one in particular). Over all though I would recommend this book and w As a military fiction fan and a sci fi fan this was the best of both worlds in one. I loved how most of the stories were from either a LBGT perspective or a female one. Also the various views of war from authors(and in a lot of cases) soldiers from not only different branches but different countries. There were one or two stories that were very difficult to read because their wordiness caused them to be pretentious and drag on(one in particular). Over all though I would recommend this book and would like to see some authors turn the short stories into full length books.

  25. 4 out of 5

    R.J.K. Lee

    What an excellent anthology! Recommended. Military sci-fi stories that really get at the humans and issues involved. It's divided into the themes of Wartime Systems, Combat, Armored Force and Aftermath, with all the stories contained within relevant to the theme and holding their own weight. Stories in here I'm sure I'll be coming back to. Looking forward to the next collection. What an excellent anthology! Recommended. Military sci-fi stories that really get at the humans and issues involved. It's divided into the themes of Wartime Systems, Combat, Armored Force and Aftermath, with all the stories contained within relevant to the theme and holding their own weight. Stories in here I'm sure I'll be coming back to. Looking forward to the next collection.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David Marshall

    This is an impressive anthology of stories dealing with war and its aftermath. One or two of the stories are outstanding. http://opionator.wordpress.com/2014/0... This is an impressive anthology of stories dealing with war and its aftermath. One or two of the stories are outstanding. http://opionator.wordpress.com/2014/0...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris Lampard

    So many good stories. This is a great anthology. The ones that stand out for me (so far): Graves by Joe Halderman The Wasp Keepers - Mark Jacobsen One MIllion Lira - Thoraia Dyer So glad I heard about this book on the Writer and The Critic podcast (#39).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stef

    won on goodreads. great stories, wonderful writing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Clyde

    Good anthology about future war.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mieneke

    Conflict is part of the human condition. In every age, at any moment, conflict has been present in our history. Be it on a large or a small scale, people have always picked sides against each other, whether on political or religious grounds. And conflict unfortunately turned to war more often than not. War is devastating on many levels; whether it’s material damage like shot-up buildings, physical damage such as war wounds for both civilians and combatants, or psychological trauma for those invo Conflict is part of the human condition. In every age, at any moment, conflict has been present in our history. Be it on a large or a small scale, people have always picked sides against each other, whether on political or religious grounds. And conflict unfortunately turned to war more often than not. War is devastating on many levels; whether it’s material damage like shot-up buildings, physical damage such as war wounds for both civilians and combatants, or psychological trauma for those involved, no human is unchanged by the experience of war. As such, it’s unsurprising that war and conflict are huge wellsprings of inspiration for authors in any field, not least that of SFF. Ranging from military SF, such as David Weber’s works, to fantasy, like Erikson’s Malazan series, from the epic to the intimate, war is told in many guises. But it’s easy to glorify war and violence and not think beyond the adrenaline of battle. In War Stories, Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak do just that. They chose stories dealing with the human cost of war, with the aftermath, and with those left behind. This doesn’t mean there aren’t battle stories here or those showing the brotherhood of soldiers, because there are, but they aim to go beyond the usual and look to the human element of war. The anthology contains twenty-three stories divided in four parts. None of the stories disappoint and while I’d planned to read the anthology two stories a day, I found myself unable to keep to that schedule as I just wanted to discover the next story and the next. I really enjoyed the structure of the anthology and the way the stories were grouped. The categories not only highlighted some of the main aspects of combat, but they also allowed for a clearer cohesion between thematically linked stories, making it possible to read the sections as separate elements and out of order. Of course as with any anthology, some stories work better for a particular reader than others and which stories click is highly personal. For me the Bigelow, Jacobsen, Broaddus, Nagata, Sutter, Dorman, and Lowachee stories were the ones that really stood out. Susan Jane Bigelow - The Radio Set in a future where we’re a space-faring people and fighting wars on other planets, we’ve also learned to build bionic soldiers from dead people. Yet this story is about the after, when the troops have gone home and Kay, one of the bionic soldiers called Synthetics, has been left for lost when her compatriots pulled out. The main theme is letting go, not just of those we lose in the case of the inhabitants of Ianas Alpha, but Kay the Synthetic’s having to let go and accept that she has been abandoned and forgotten. I found the narrative touching and Kay's development and attachment to the group that saves her wonderful. Mark Jacobsen - The Wasp Keepers This story set in Syria feels current, even if set in the future, and it’ll be interesting to see how this one ages. It’s very much a commentary on the current (and past) situation in the Middle East and the West's tendency to interpose itself and its views and solutions on non-Western territories. I loved the protagonist Um Hamza and the way that we see the ‘other’ side of the conflict. Her courage and determination to keep her son and her people safe, to set something in motion is amazing. Maurice Broaddus - Valkyrie To me this story felt like Operation Market Garden with a twist. I loved the world-building and how subtle clues pointed at some development in the world. Such as mention of the hills of Holland made me think that perhaps the Holland of the story has grown substantially, because Holland? Doesn't have that many hills and certainly isn't known for them. And given that the world has fractured into a Christian part and an Islamic part and an atheistic part and the atheistic part was Holland it made sense for the territory to be bigger than my tiny country. Also given Holland's history as a free-thinkers safe haven in the Golden Age, it seemed fitting for it to be so once again. The focus of the story however, is on how war can break a person and crack their moral conscience, perhaps even their sanity. It also features and interesting way of creating soldiers: taking criminals and people who do not confirm to the Church’s rules and flushing them of who they are, making them clean slates and good soldiers. Linda Nagata - Light and Shadow Combat stress can be fatal; it can cause those who suffer from it to lose concentration and make deadly mistakes. Imagine the military had found a way to monitor your every emotion and to compensate for it, thereby making combat stress disappear, at least temporarily. In Nagata's tale this is accomplished by the skull caps the soldiers need to wear. Light and Shadow shows the importance of dealing with what happens to you when you wage war — and perhaps applies to general trauma as well. Feelings and emotions cannot be suppressed without creating a dependency on the suppressant, leaving people vulnerable to extreme trauma and reactions if the suppressant is taken away. Sakai’s belief that she’ll never be able to function as a ‘normal’ human again, that her only option is to permanently get out is tragic. It also connects it to several other stories that give the sense that a combat soldier can never truly go home again. James Sutter - Suits Sutter packs some big themes in an oddly intimate story. Set within a military base and its direct environs on a hostile planet, Suits features exactly that: huge mecha suits. And these suits are so special and costly, they have their own special sort of techs. Halfie and his buddy Tom are the techs of the base and they have never left it since arriving, even only having been outside just a handful of times and always in the course of duty. They were specially created to take care of the suits and as such they aren’t considered fully human. Except not all the human soldiers just see them as little better than favoured pets; Sergeant Billings seems to look beyond these prejudices and treats them as valid and valued members of the team. This dehumanisation of the two techs foreshadows the later dehumanisation and othering of their opponents, which in turns is only punctured by the outsider gazes of Halfie and Tom, who have learned from Billings' attitude to look beyond the generally held opinions. The ending was bittersweet and left me hoping they’d done the wise thing. Nerine Dorman - Always the Stars and the Void Between This story featuring a soldier who returns from interstellar war to her home, a farm in rural South Africa, is heart-breaking. It’s the story that showcases that after combat you can never go home and never go back to the way things were before the strongest. I loved how it’s the relatives that are immoral, violent, and cruel, while it’s Rachel, who feels herself to be tainted due to her service, who is the more compassionate and human. The decision she makes will raise some eyebrows, but are never about expediency and always about love and compassion. Karin Lowachee - Enemy States This story gave me shivers both times I read it. It is both the sweetest love story and the most harrowing depiction of what happens to those who are left behind. The endless waiting and worrying, the feelings of helplessness and pride. I loved Jake and Tuvi’s story so much. The emotions reverberated of the page and Jake’s voice is great. The ending of the story was lovely and I just wanted it to be a happily ever-after. War Stories is a great collection of stories that hold up on second reading beautifully, revealing more layers and meaning. I truly enjoyed the anthology and I hope that the follow-up volume mentioned on the Skiffy and Fanty show will come about, because I’d love to read more of these stories and to see how Gates and Liptak will select them. This is an intelligent, compelling anthology and one I’d recommend to anyone with an interest in military or social SF independent of their world views. The diversity in this collection of stories ensures that everyone will see themselves reflected. This book was provided for review by the publisher.

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