The Other McCain

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

The Glory Game and Other Oldies But Goodies

Posted on | October 4, 2015 | 16 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

Before we get into the books, I want to thank everyone who ordered stuff through my Amazon links this past month. Not all of my posts get the kind of comment traffic that Stacy’s posts draw (and frankly, I’d be surprised if they did) but when I look at the Amazon Associates report that lists all the stuff you folks have been kind enough to order, it makes me think I’m not just throwing rocks into the 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 haven’t seen in years, and that in many cases are no longer in print. One of these is Keith Laumer’s undeservedly obscure The Glory Game; the second half, “Message to an Alien”, was republished in one of the Laumer anthologies Eric Flint edited for Baen, Legions of Space*, and stands on its own well enough – but it’s not the whole story by a long shot, and the first half, with its political struggles uncomfortably similar to the current day, adds a lot of depth to the character of Commodore Tancredi Dalton. John C. Wright has an excellent essay on the book which I can’t recommend highly enough.

I didn’t actually get to watch much baseball this year, but since I’ve been unpacking my library I have been able to go face-first into some of my favorite baseball books again. One of them, unsurprisingly, is The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. This excellent combination of baseball history, biographical encyclopedia, and irreverent comments on all manner of things baseball-related (and sometimes not) is a real treasure, although it’s more than a little annoying that Simon & Schuster has the Kindle price jacked up to more than the paperback price. If you’re one of those baseball fans who is allergic to sabermetrics (i.e. any statistic not found in your local newspaper’s box scores) there is some of that, but it’s not nearly as obtrusive as it is in, say, Baseball Prospectus 2015.

Ages and ages ago when I first started doing these book posts, I put in a good word for Sandy Mitchell’s Ciaphas Cain: Hero of the Imperium, an unusually amusing homage to George MacDonald Fraser’s Harry Flashman and Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder characters set in the grim, dark world of the Warhammer 40K games. While I have that collection, the Ciaphas Cain novels I spent the last week or so with were Death or Glory and Cain’s Last Stand, both of which take place on the (largely) desert world of Perlia. The former involves Cain’s struggle to return to friendly lines after crash-landing smack in the middle of ork-occupied territory, in the course of which he becomes a planetary legend; in the latter, which is chronologically the last Cain novel, he comes out of retirement when Warmaster Varan and the 13th Black Crusade arrive on Perlia. Both great brain candy, and available as part of the omnibus Ciaphas Cain: Defender of the Imperium along with a third novel, the short story “Traitor’s Gambit”, and a new intro by Sandy Mitchell.

*Dead tree edition is out of print, but it’s available as an e-book through Baen.


16 Responses to “The Glory Game and Other Oldies But Goodies”

  1. DeadMessenger
    October 4th, 2015 @ 12:51 am

    How can we not appreciate a cute lil Wombat? Or rather, in your case, a mean ol’ Wombat brandishing a big banhammer. : )

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    October 4th, 2015 @ 3:58 am

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  3. Daniel Freeman
    October 4th, 2015 @ 4:53 am

    I feel very sorry for you, lying for a living. I can’t imagine what state you were in that you decided that was an okay thing to do.

  4. David Harr
    October 4th, 2015 @ 5:47 am

    I adore Keith Laumer. I hang out in a number of writer’s groups, since I am writing a novel with my wife. One of the common complaints is “Oh, I hate dystopian science fiction. It is terrible.” Obviously, these people have never read any of Laumer’s stuff. In my opinion, his very best work is in the dystopian science fiction realm. He sets up a terrible, awful situation, then has his protagonist come on the scene (often a man literally out of time, usually through some means such as cloning or cold-sleep) and change things by either smashing it all to pieces forcing society to start again from scratch or by strongarming the powerful to make them change things. Of course, this usually involves large doses of violence and kicking of much-deserved asses.

    His stuff is absolutely thrilling. I wish I could write half as well as he could.


  5. model217
    October 4th, 2015 @ 12:36 pm

    Ciaphas Cain books are great. But I can’t see paying $25 for a used paperback. The Sandy Mitchell and Dan Abnett books I have were bought at the used book store, and they are usually in short supply

  6. Steve Skubinna
    October 4th, 2015 @ 12:44 pm

    Careful Daniel, that’s your white cis-male privilege speaking. Do not question her lived experience!

  7. Steve Skubinna
    October 4th, 2015 @ 12:48 pm

    There’s a game store not far from me, that has a lending library in back. Last time I was there they had all the Caiphas Cain books.

    A problem is the Black Library (GW’s publishing house) doesn’t keep books in print for very long, so if you miss grabbing one during the short window it’s available you’re left with searching used bookstores of maybe go online to ABE.

    Incidentally down in Portland OR there’s a store, Powell’s, that puts the used copies right next to the new ones on the shelves. No separate “used” section at all. So often you have the option of buying a new edition of grabbing a used one in decent condition.

  8. Steve Skubinna
    October 4th, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

    I discovered Laumer back in the mid to late sixties, when I found a copy of Retief’s War in the public library. Up to then I had no idea that it was even possible to write satirical or comedic SF.

    As much as I love Retief though, probably my favorite Laumer is Earthblood, written with Rosel George Brown. Although Laumer did not create a specific timelime or framework to set his stories in (as with Pournelle’s CoDominium and Empire series) there are sometimes links to other books. In Earthblood for example the hero visits the ruined, abandoned planet Aldo Cerise, which was sector HQ for many of the Retief stories.

  9. Quartermaster
    October 4th, 2015 @ 1:13 pm

    I’ve bought many a technical book from Powell’s (their major strength). My favorite internet house for books out of print, or at least have been in print for awhile, is Alibris. Alibris has become mostly a network, although they do have things in stock as well. Abe Books is also a network, and Amazon also has a used book network as well.

  10. Steve Skubinna
    October 4th, 2015 @ 1:55 pm

    I believe that Amazon bought ABE but keeps it separate from their own business.

    There used to be a great technical book store up in Seattle… haven’t been in that part of the city in a long while, wonder if it’s still there? I have a great weakness for technical books outside my own expertise (which is vast – I mean the area outside my expertise).

  11. Wombat_socho
    October 4th, 2015 @ 3:14 pm

    Powell’s is awesome. My daughter keeps noodging me to move to Portland, and Powell’s is a big argument for doing it…on the other hand, Portland.

  12. Steve Skubinna
    October 4th, 2015 @ 8:31 pm

    You could live across the border in WA. No state income tax, and you could shop in OR where there’s no sales tax.

  13. Wombat_socho
    October 4th, 2015 @ 8:43 pm

    The daughter is shopping for houses, and leaning hard toward Washington state for that very reason.

  14. Daniel Freeman
    October 4th, 2015 @ 11:49 pm

    Well, you’re not the first people to think of that, so the bridges across the Columbia are a bitch at rush hour. Just so you know.

  15. Wombat_socho
    October 6th, 2015 @ 9:56 pm

    Somebody apparently went for it, God bless them.

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