Friday, July 8, 2011

Warriors 2

Yes, I admit it. I got sucked in. Although I wasn't all that impressed with the quality of most of the fiction in offer in Warriors 1 (the first paperback volume of the massive hardback anthology edited by George R.R Martin and Gardner Dozois; Warriors) I still went ahead and bought Warriors 2, because it did have a few authors I was interested in.

The introduction is the same George R.R Martin introduction from the first volume. The collection did open promisingly with a contribution from Naomi Novik. Naomi Novik is best known for her Temeraire series (think Patrick O'Brien with dragons if it was written by Jane Austen and you'll get the idea), which I have liked from the first book (I'm currently reading the 6th Temeraire book: Tongues of Serpents), she has recently begun to spread her wings (sorry, couldn't resist the dragon metaphor) and write outside of that concept. Seven Years From Home is an Avatarish science fiction tale. It's quite clever and well executed. I find Novik's elegant style very accessible and although she abandons the nineteenth century speech and sensibilities in this it is still unimistakably her. I enjoyed it and would not be adverse to seeing more of this from her.

Peter S. Beagle (best known for his classic The Last Unicorn) provides the second contribution. It's distinguishable for it's style, which is to put it bluntly bizarre. The story is called Dirae and it is to be avoided at all costs. It was remarkably bad and if this is the best Beagle can do then he's fallen a long way in a fairly short period of time.

Ancient Ways by S.M Stirling was a step up. I've read a couple of Stirling's (Peshawar Lancers and Conquistador) and thoroughly enjoyed them both. This particular story is set in his post Change world (all modern technology fails worldwide) and was thoroughly enjoyable, it had likeable, if somewhat stereotypical protagonists and was good old fashioned swashbuckling adventure. Knowledge of the world was not required and it would have worked equally as well as historical adventure. It's prompted me to be put the Change work on my to be read list at some point, and I'd like to see further adventures with the heroes of Ancient Ways if Stirling ever wants to write them.

David Ball is best known for historical fiction. I've never encountered it. This is probably a happy circumstance. There's very little to recommend The Scroll. It's a brutal, blood soaked pointless exercise. Yes, it's probably historically accurate, although I've seen better research and writing. I found myself asking why. I wouldn't be picking up anything with his name on it.

The co editor Gardner Dozois chimes in with Recidivist. Set in a post AI future, where the technology has taken over from the people. In some ways it was a little reminiscent of Syfy's ill fated Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica, but overall it was an excuse for Dozois to take a trip down memory lane and recall things from earlier days. If this is representative of Dozois' work then he's better sticking to editing.

The first time I ever heard of Howard Waldrop was as part of one of GRRM's infamous April Fool's jokes on his Not a Blog. He's best known for short fiction, and he's a regular contributor to Martin's beloved Wild Cards concept. Ninieslando is set in the First World War, it's saving grace is that it's most likely set in an alternate world. Some of his descriptions aren't bad, although I've read better, and if you're going to use British servicemen as your main characters at least do some research to get their slang right and give them believable backgrounds.

The final story was a novella by David Weber called Out of the Dark. Weber is best known for his military SF. I haven't read him because I'm not really a fan of the genre, but judging by this novella he's a pretty good writer. It's about an invasion of Earth by doglike aliens and their surprise when the local populace fight back. It's a well done invasion guerilla resistance piece and it has a horror ending that I didn't see coming. As with the first collection the novella length final story was the best piece in it.

I'll pick up the 3rd book when it comes out, because I'm a completist, but I will remain wary of anything edited by George R.R Martin where he gets to pick the contributors.

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