Daily Archives: August 25, 2011

By Other Means (Defending the Future Series Book Three) by Mike McPhail

By Other MeansReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

If you enjoy reading Military Science Fiction (MilSF), and want to check out the best short stories by some of today’s most renowned MilSF authors, then the anthology By Other Means (Defending the Future series Book Three) is definitely for you! I have read & reviewed the first two anthologies in the Defending the Future series, Breach the Hull and So It Begins, and really liked the short stories in it, and By Other Means continues in this trend. The only difference that I can see is perhaps a thematic one, as many of the stories in By Other Means are related to achieving minor or major victories over foes not necessarily through raging battles, but by–as the title suggests–other means. I can’t get into each of the fifteen excellent stories in the collection, but I’ll touch on a few of the anthology’s highlights.

By Other Means opens with “Mother of Peace,” by James Chambers. Something went horribly wrong with the Centry program, which wedded mobile weapons of war with human brains of soldiers who died in battle and still wanted to continue at least a partial sort of existence and serve their country. All of the human brain-directed machines shut down at the same time, and this resulted in prolonging a lengthy and costly war. Dr. Bell (one of the original scientists behind the Centry program), Corporal Dolan, Sergeant Tanner, and the telepathic being Calypso try to locate one of the machines and figure out why it and the others stopped, and how to reactivate them. If possible, her main objective is to find not just any of the Centry machines, but one that houses the brain of Captain Bowman, who was the love of her life. None of their individual nor collective lives, to Dr. Bell, is as important as reactivating the Centry machines and bringing about an end to the war.

The second story is “Cybermarine” by Bud Sparhawk. This is somewhat similar to the first story, in that soldiers at the very point of death have the option to continue to serve their countries, but not in mobile machines. Instead, they are given new seven-foot-tall bodies, with multiple eyes that can see different ranges of light. They are stronger than the other soldiers, and are kept segregated from the rest of the crew in general because of their rather monstrous appearances. The first-person narrator relates some of the ways they help in battle, and the story shifts between the chasing down of an enemy spaceship and its attempted capture, and what happens to the narrator when he has to face the decision to become a cybermarine, himself. “Winslow, Harold,” is a cybermarine who the narrator is especially struck with, and who influences the narrator’s ultimate decision.

Pursuit of Happiness by Sheldon Greene (Review #2)

Pursuit of HappinessReviewed by Cy Hilterman

I had read the description of the book as written by the author and expected to find myself “grabbed from the first page” but I was not so grabbed! The beginning and for quite a few pages was used to describe the books characters, surrounding nature, the description of the clothing, and in general, the times. However, after the first part of the book things got very interesting as more of the Revolutionary War and the characters of that war were introduced making the reader then “be grabbed”! The authors’ descriptive writing made the story very intriguing. You will meet George Washington and many of the military and government leaders of the day.

Amelia Sayre was married to Duncan seemingly in name only. Duncan promised much but rarely followed through, such as the six-months in Europe that never materialized. Duncan also wanted no parts of children, a fact that Amelia found so wrong for a married couple. Amelia would look out to the sea waiting for ships to sail into port hoping that something new would arise from that arrival. Amelia had her friends and Rachel was probably the closest. Slavery was very much a part of the times. Some slaves were given some freedom within the family they worked for but were never totally free. They took their unbearable punishment if they did not obey to the letter of their masters.

Joshua Rutledge was a Quaker and Quakers are pacifists, or are supposed to be and Joshua strongly believed that that was the way to live during these times of war. He would not fight even though many in the government tried to talk him into helping the Americans, knowing what a leader he was. General George Washington and some of his military leaders figured they could get Joshua to help by conveying information back and forth. This would give them valuable information that only a select leader like Joshua could dig for. Reluctant at first he gave in and started valuable trips to areas where he could ascertain figures, materials, ammunition, weapons, and many other sorts of information not available in normal ways. One of his first assignments was to find a ship to transport munitions back to America. Joshua’s family was barrel makers. The barrels sometimes were shipped with no content but usually containing various kinds of goods, including munitions. He became involved in various shipments while he tried to find the “right” ship to carry his cargo. He was taken to many parts of the globe and met many interesting people from many nationalities. Joshua’s love was Amelia. Even though she was married he wanted her for his wife. The love would not leave him. He would be with several other women in friendship and for sex but Amelia never left his heart.

Act of Deceit: A Harlan Donnally Novel by Steven Gore

Act of DeceitReviewed by Julie Moderson

Steven Gore improves every time he writes another book and I wouldn’t have believed that he could improve. Each of his novels becomes my favorite until the next one comes out.

Donnally is a former detective and he is asked by a dying friend to find his younger sister that he hasn’t seen since he was young. Donnally promises to find her and deliver a letter to her. Little does he know that this promise will take him on a wild adventure to find the young woman. Donnally finds himself doing battle against very powerful and wealthy people on both sides of the border. He is driven to keep the promise to his dear friend and discovers demons he never imagined he would find but keeps going until he knows what really happened.