There Will Be War, Vol 1

There Will Be War Vol I was published in 1983 and edited by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. It was republished in 2015 by Castalia House. I wish I had known about this series growing up. I probably would have been all over it. Jerry Pournelle recently passed away, and I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of his work during his actual lifetime.

I wish I had known about this series growing up. I probably would have been all over it. I grew up as an Air Force brat during the Cold War. From 1980 to 1985, my dad was stationed at Ramstein Air Base in what used to be West Germany. We lived with the fact that Soviet bombers could be overhead before they could get the air raid sirens lit off.

Hell, I was walking to school in 1983 when some terrorists somehow got a truckload of explosives onto Ramstein and detonated them at Headquarters. I felt the shockwave from the blast. My mom was freaking out all day, since my dad didn’t have a chance to call.

I’m somewhat sympathetic to Cold War literature. I also greatly enjoy military science fiction, having spent most of my life in or around the military in some capacity, from dependent to active duty to reservist to defense contractor and direct civilian employee.

The There Will Be War series involves military science fiction short stories, essays, and articles collected and edited by Jerry Pournelle. He writes of science fiction conventions attended by serious military and science fiction writers, not a bunch of SJW degenerates like those of today.

Growing up, I knew of the doctrine of “Mutually Assured Destruction” or MAD. In this book, I learned of another doctrine called “Assured Survival”. MAD didn’t like the concept of civil defense, while Assured Survival depended on it. I’d also never heard of the THOR system either.

I think my favorite story was the satirical “The Battle”, by Robert Sheckly. This story could easily have been part of a South Park episode.

The original novella for “Ender’s Game” is included. That story has evolved quite a bit. I reviewed it on my Blogspot blog, and I’ve been meaning to repost it here. Orson Scott Card is an amazing writer.

While I’ve seen several movies based on Philip K. Dick’s books, the first story of his I’ve actually read is in There Will Be War Vol 1, “The Defenders”. Very interesting concept.

I’m going to have to make my way through the rest of the series.

One problem I’m finding with short stories though, and I’ve only read a handful of anthologies, is that you’re dropped into the middle of a story with no context. Then you’re trying to figure out the answers to questions such as “Who the hell are these people?” “Why are they using horses if this is science fiction?” And by the time you finally figure out what the hell is going on, identify with the characters and want them to succeed, it’s over.

Book Review: Hitler In Hell by Martin Van Creveld

Nazis are becoming all the rage lately. From the left calling anybody to the right of Karl Marx “Nazi” or “fascist” to a group of people commonly referred to as the “alt-reich” or alt-retards, you see and hear it all over the place. President Trump, since the early days of his campaign, has been called “literally Hitler”.

In light of that, I’ve been doing my own research into the subject. I’ve read Mein Kampf (Ford translation) and several other books trying to get a handle on what actually happened so I don’t become one of these historically illiterate idiots running around.

Back in June, Castalia House released Martin Van Creveld’s latest book, Hitler In Hell. I got a free copy as a member of their book club (joining is as easy as submitting your email address.) It took me a while to read it since I had an ePub on my phone. I finally finished.

As I read the book, I kept wondering “why would an Israeli Jew write a book that seems to come out favorable to the Fuhrer?” The answer is at the back. Van Creveld has studied the subject his entire life. He had family that both survived and perished during the events of WWII and the concentration camps (commonly called “The Holocaust.”) He has read many of the biographies and done plenty of archival research, and as a military historian, has done plenty of his own reading and writing on German military tactics in both wars.

Van Creveld has always thought about writing a biography on the man but didn’t know what to add that others hadn’t already covered. Then it hit him, to write the book autobiographical. So although this book is fiction, it is written as if in Hitler’s own words and voice.

The premise of the book is: Hitler is in Hell. He’s totally conscious of the events since he ate a bullet in his bunker (he has an Internet connection), and is writing both his side of the story and responding to his critics.

I enjoyed the book and learned a lot in the process. In some ways, it agrees with “alternative historians” such is Mike King. In a few other ways, it differs. Some claim Hitler let the British escape at Dunkirk. Van Creveld’s Hitler says it was flawed intelligence and ground that prevented his army from moving quickly enough.

All in all, Hitler in Hell is a great read and a valuable addition to this historical discussion. The story of Hitler is not one as simple as “evil man!” or “demon possessed”. He was a real man with real motivations at a real point in history with real influences, both positive and negative. He was a combat soldier, serving at the front for almost four years, wounded in action twice, then watched helplessly as his nation was humiliated and raped with the Treaty of Versailles. He was also an intelligent man and a scholar, who read a lot, often a book a day. What would you do?

Book Review: Derelict: Marines Saga by Paul Cooley

I think I came across and bought Derelict: Marines from a BookBub newsletter. The story sounded interesting, so I bought it. And it was so good, I bought the second book, Derelict: Tomb. Now I’m stuck and left hanging until the 3rd book comes out later this year.

This series is military science fiction. The premise of the series is that a ship sent on a mission about 50 years go that lost contact suddenly shows up near Pluto mysteriously. This has sort of an “Event Horizon” vibe. A group of search and rescue Marines stationed near Neptune is dispatched to check it out. Their orders are to board the ship, recover any logs they can, and tow it back.

But the AIs they’re dealing with start giving them conflicting information. Their ship’s AI starts acting strange. While they were ordered to tow the ship back, the AIs suggest destroying it.

Then they find some strange objects on the ship that look like pinecones, as well as some liquid that kills a Marine who steps in it. While mounting thrusters to stabilize the ship’s spin, a fireteam’s skiff is disabled, forcing them to take refuge inside the ship. Low on air and with an injured Marine in serious need of medical care, they are forced to find a way to survive and defend against the strange objects, which turn out to be some form of extra-solar life, which certainly isn’t looking to share their wisdom and technology with residents of the Sol system.

These are fast paced, action packed books that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And damn it, I have to wait until at least October before the 3rd book comes out.

While it’s really hard to capture life in space without taking some artistic license (the author uses “grav plating” for artificial gravity), the military aspects are fairly realistic. I assumed when I started reading the books that the author had been a Marine, but nothing in his bio indicates military service. Still, he did a decent job.

One hint as to how well an author renders Marines is how their rank is described. While it’s perfectly acceptable to call ANY NCO in the Army or Chair Force a “sergeant”, that doesn’t fly in the Marines. Their mentality is that you earned it, and you deserve to be addressed by it. There is only one sergeant in the Marines, which is E-5. Once you make E-6, you are a Staff Sergeant, and can expect to be addressed by it. Gunnery Sergeants (E-7s) are often addressed as “Gunny”, which is acceptable. But NOBODY calls a Gunny a sergeant. That doesn’t fly.

I’m not even sure if it’s acceptable to call a Private First Class a Private.