|Kindle eBook, n.pag.|
Acquired October 2014
Read April 2018
edited by Jaym Gates & Andrew Liptak
I wanted to like this collection more than I did. I finished it with the feeling that if this was the best that science fiction can do with the concept of war, it was perhaps best left alone. The stories range from near future stories of drone warfare to more fanciful tales of cyborgs and such, some set during conflict, and some dealing with its aftereffects, but I found little here that grabbed my attention. Ken Liu's "In the Loop" was an interesting take on the automation of warfare (if a trifle conservative). I did like the monitoring wasps of Mark Jacobsen's "The Wasp Keepers," a plausible enough take on how Middle Eastern "peace-keeping" might go someday. The most best story in the book was Karin Lowachee's "Enemy State," about the lover of a combat-augmented cyborg dealing with posttraumatic stress. Like, say, Cordwainer's Smith "Scanners Live in Vain," it uses bodily alteration partially as a stand-in for the mental alteration war inflicts on those who fight it, and I found it moving in parts.
Too many of the stories strained my credulity, with military technology I had a hard time believing in. I guess this is a difficulty in general of military sf, as contemporary warfare moves increasingly toward drones-- how do we maintain the human element necessary for storytelling? Many stories accomplish this by having the combat drones used human bodies and/or human minds in some integral way, but I often found this hard to buy. The AI in Susan Jane Bigelow's "The Radio," for example, had implausibly few instructions on what to do if separated from her unit.
"Invincible" by Jay Posey had the typical armored suits that go back to Starship Troopers, I guess, which felt a little trite. A few stories used these, so many that the book actually has a section devoted to them, but they began to blend together after a while. Some authors gamely tried to come up with new spins on them, like Carlos Orsi's "In Loco," but I found that story somewhat contrived, to be honest.