Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Tour Of Duty Tour Of Duty
by Michael Z. Williamson
Baen Books

Supplied for review by Baen Books at LoneStarCon 3

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

I arrived a bit late to the Baen presentation at LoneStarCon 3, and by the time I interjected something nice about Baen Books and earned a free book from the presenter, there wasn’t much choice. That is how I came into possession of this collection of stories and essays, which has one of the strongest militaristic themes I have ever come across. If essays entitled the Ten Manliest Firearms are liable to offend you, then this is not the book for you.

Being a collection, it’s a mixed bunch, even more so than usual; there is fiction, non-fiction, personal anecdote, humour… and a filk on One Night in Baghdad that you can pretty well imagine. It’s also a mixed bag in terms of quality. One of the highlights is a story called The Humans Call it Duty which I found evocative of the tales of animal soldiers I’ve being hearing about lately (dogs are better at finding IEDs than any machine yet developed). Williamson’s Freehold stories were pretty good too. His depiction of warfare seems to me to be some of the most authentic I’ve come across (I read military SF, but I doubt I’ll ever write it, because you really have to have been there).

But some parts of this work simply don’t work for me, because I’m not keen on guns, and I’m not American. Neither is Williamson, by birth at any rate, he’s as British as I am… but you’d never guess.

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