The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Unpacking The Library

Posted on | September 24, 2015 | 14 Comments

— compiled by Wombat-socho

The great work of constructing shelves and unpacking boxes full of books continues, and as it does, I keep finding books I haven’t seen in years – and, unfortunately, quite a few books that I’d forgotten I already had, which in the meantime I’d bought additional copies of. Some of them I’m going to keep -for example, the original DAW edition of Jerry Pournelle’s A Spaceship For The King with the Kelly Freas cover, even though it’s since been expanded into King David’s Spaceship. That’s the exception rather than the rule, though, and I may well wind up having a garage sale of the surplus volumes by the time I’m done sorting everything out.

Among the recently unearthed long-lost literary (sic) treasures is Robert Frezza’s McLendon’s Syndrome. Not everyone does humor in SF well, but Frezza carries it off in this amusing tale of Ensign Ken McKay, the tramp freighter Rustam’s Slipper (more commonly called the “Rusty Scupper”), interstellar drug smuggling, vampires, and the backwater colony of Schuyler’s Planet, where all the children are below average and their parents aren’t so hot either. Also, there’s His Rotundity Bucky Beaver, heir to the Rodent throne, his indispensable sidekick Cheeves, and the unfortunate matter of the Rodent-Human war that Ken accidentally sets off. Hilarity, deranged nurses, and occasional romance ensue. Another case where you can’t believe it’s not available on Kindle.

Speaking of Kindle, Vox Day’s Castalia House is in the process of reissuing the series of There Will Be War anthologies edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr back during the Reagan Administration, starting with There Will Be War Volume I. The cover art is a little different, but the stories and non-fiction are the same, and there are some damn good stories in these collections, including Pournelle & Niven’s “Reflex”, which was cut from The Mote in God’s Eye; the original version of “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card; “Cincinnatus” by the late Joel Rosenberg, and many, many others. Some reviewers have complained that the fiction and non-fiction alike are a bit dated, but personally I think of the whole series as a nice collection of period pieces which reflect the times in which they were written.

And speaking of period pieces, there’s Robert Moss’ fine political and military thriller Moscow Rules, which tells the tale of a young GRU officer who resolves early in life to destroy the Soviet system in the only way possible – with a pitiless coup by the Soviet Union’s own deadliest soldiers, the spetsnaz. I think Moss does as good a job as any Westerner of depicting the gray, depressing life of the average Soviet citizen and how corrupt the system was – and how tempting it could be to defect. Young lieutenant Preobrazhensky remains true to his purpose, though, accumulating allies in the strangest places before finally dropping the axe. Alternate history now, of course, but still a fascinating tale. Was available on Kindle for a while, but not at the moment.


14 Responses to “Unpacking The Library”

  1. Good Stuff
    September 24th, 2015 @ 11:37 pm

    Buck Rogers in the 25th Century next week, if you want to play

  2. John Rose
    September 25th, 2015 @ 6:09 am

    One of the saddest moments in my life was realizing that Jerry Pournelle was getting to the point, between age and medical issues, that I’d likely not see any more of his most excellent military Sci-Fi.

    I love the CoDo ‘universe’, including King David’s Spaceship. Ah, Iron MacKinnie, you magnificent, honorable, bastard…

    The whole universe of the CoDominion, the Spartan Hegemony, was one of the coolest (to me) future histories I’d ever read. Gobbled them up. From “West Of Honor” to “The Gripping Hand.”


  3. Quartermaster
    September 25th, 2015 @ 6:48 am

    He is still working, albeit more slowly than in the past. A stroke will slow a man down. He and Niven are working on a project now, but I haven’t been to his blog enough to know anymore than that.
    I’ve loved his stuff as well. I’m hoping he gets “Mamalukes” out before he passes and would like to see more after the mercenary trilogy which ends with the birth of the Spartan hegemony.

  4. Wombat_socho
    September 25th, 2015 @ 11:05 am

    I always wondered how much of the Helot War trilogy was Pournelle and how much was Stirling.

  5. Pope Francis: ‘Grow, You Guys…’ | Regular Right Guy
    September 25th, 2015 @ 12:20 pm

    […] Unpacking The Library […]

  6. John Rose
    September 25th, 2015 @ 8:17 pm

    Ditto. Really want to see how Rick Galloway and his merry band of Mercenaries handle the demon star and the aliens on Tran…

    And I’d frankly love to see Sparta Rising, or some such…


  7. Wombat_socho
    September 25th, 2015 @ 8:21 pm

    Funny you should mention that – the original Buck Rogers tales, “Armageddon 2419 AD” and “The Airlords of Han” are available on Project Gutenberg, and there are four sequels written from a Niven & Pournelle outline – but I’ll write about those next week. 🙂

  8. Wombat_socho
    September 25th, 2015 @ 8:22 pm

    Three gets you five that we’ll see a series of shared-world anthologies dealing with the First Empire, as was done with the “War World” tales, some of which covered the tail end of the Secession Wars.

  9. Quartermaster
    September 25th, 2015 @ 9:51 pm

    The first, “Prince of Mercenaries” was entirely Jerry’s work. He wrote the outlines for the next 2 with Stirling doing the actual writing. I seem to recall he did edit Sterling’s work, but may be misremembering. I think it worked the same with the Tran series as well.

  10. Wombat_socho
    September 26th, 2015 @ 3:00 am

    Yeah, the first one was a fixup that combined “Sword and Scepter” with “Silent Leges” and (IIRC) “His Truth Goes Marching On”.

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  12. Quartermaster
    September 27th, 2015 @ 11:34 am

    I had seen the last, but not the first two. He published the last in his “There Will Be War” anthology series.

  13. Wombat_socho
    September 30th, 2015 @ 12:41 am

    Its first printing was in a Gordy Dickson anthology, appropriately entitled Combat SF. “Sword and Scepter” was a two-part serial in Analog in 1973, and I don’t remember where I saw “Silent Leges” first.

  14. The Glory Game and Other Oldies But Goodies : The Other McCain
    October 4th, 2015 @ 12:36 am

    […] big pond of the Internet. People really do appreciate what I’m doing here. As I mentioned in the last book post, I’m enjoying unpacking my library and finding a bunch of books that I literally […]