I was never a fan of military SF. Even as a teenager, I found it too macho and ‘oplophilic’, to coin a phrase – too focused on bigger, better weapons. I enjoyed a few militaristic stories – Jerry Pournelle’s Future History, Gordon Dickson’s Dorsai – but David Drake was a step too far. I tended more toward Clark, Asimov, and Heinlein.
When I saw a few of the There Will Be War volumes available for free, what drew me in was Pournelle’s name, not the theme. Curiously, though, the stories lean (a little) less toward rampant militarism – though there’s that – than toward a determined case for pro-military libertarianism. That might have pleased my teenaged Heinlein-loving self, but it’s less appealing to a middle-aged adult.
The stories are something of a muddle, with even brilliant work (Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game”) dulled by the setting. There’s no apparent logic or theme to the selection, other than war. That’s in sharp contrast to the non-fiction material, which focuses heavily on making the case for using technology to greatly out-weapon our enemies and for a libertarian society free of those annoying restrictions. While moderately interesting from historical and technological perspectives, I found the politics so pervasive and heavy-handed that the volume was little fun to read.
The intent of this first volume of There Will Be War was clearly “let’s gather some stories so that people will also read our political arguments”. On that front, it succeeds; I read the arguments, and even counted myself slightly edified. If you’re looking for either objectivity or entertainment, however, look elsewhere. There Will Be War is much more a manifesto of oplophilic libertarianism than it is fun to read.
I received a free copy of this
book in exchange for an honest review.