Book Review: Swords and Saddles by Jack Campbell (four stars)
An anthology of three unrelated Campbell/Hemry stories.
“Greeting death with smiles.”
“The Rift” retells the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa as science fiction. (1964 movie Zulu) Excellent. If only for this story, read this. How do we get the idea we can communicate with aliens when we can not communicate among ourselves? Indeed. Campbell/Hemry also skewers academic orthodoxy as an impediment to learning … and survival. (Campbell demonstrates he knows nothing about milk cattle.)
“The orthodox, prevailing view in my field is that myths and religions are just window-dressing, not really fundamental to world-views and not regarded by cultures as serious explanations for how the universe works.” “Where did anyone get that idea?”
“Swords and Saddles” another variation of the lost army unit story. Been done—and done better—many times.
“We’re not in Kansas, that’s for certain.”
“Failure to Obey” is weakest. Trial drama, not a favorite. Tie-in to other Paul Sinclair stories, which I haven’t read. Opens with a little setup action, then shifts to the court room. Yawn. In a classic court martial scene that rivals the best in American literature, Paul has to work behind the scenes to save Ivan’s military career,” from the blurb is a blatant lie to suck in fans of Sinclair.
“In the final analysis we need to ask ourselves what we want defending us – machines which kill without hesitation on order, or humans who sometimes hesitate, sometimes think, sometimes decide that the order they’ve received may be unlawful, may be wrong.”