Body Armor: 2000

I love a good anthology, although I’d read a few of these stories before:

  • Contact! (David Drake): this story is quite unlike the other stuff of his that I have read, mostly because its set in the Vietnam War, not the far future. A good story with an excellent twist.
  • The Warbots (Larry S. Todd): this one wasn’t for me. I’m not sure what point the author was trying to make, if any. Its just a long history of imaginary weapons.
  • The Scapegoat (C. J. Cherryh): this is long, being a novella, and a little hard to read in places because the story jumps around. Overall, a good read though. My first Cherryh, although I have a lot queued up on the shelf.
  • The Last Crusade (George H. Smith): this was a good story, and would have fit well in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow as it has a similar war-is-hopeless tone.
  • Hired Man (Richard C. Meredith): there is a nice twist at the end of this one, although its obvious a few pages before it happens.
  • Early Model (Robert Sheckley): I was surprised by this one, its the first Sheckley story I’ve read that I didn’t hate. Its not fantastic, but its way better than Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains or his story in Foundation’s Friends.
  • In the Bone (Gordon R. Dickson): this story is odd, and I’m not 100% sure what I think of it. It was entertaining, but also a little hard to believe.
  • The Chemically Pure Warriors (Allen Kim Lang): this was a good story, being quite reminiscent of Tilley’s Amtrak Wars series.
  • Right To Life (Thomas A. Easton): this story is in the same vein as Make Room, Make Room! and Logan’s Run, whilst still being distinct and interesting.
  • Or Battle’s Sound (Harry Harrison): appeared in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow.
  • Hero (Joe Haldeman): appeared in Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow, and was turned into The Forever War.

    [isbn: 0441069762]

Foundation’s Friends

I was excited when I found Foundation’s Friends the other day, because I thought I’d read all the Foundation books and did not know that this one existed. It is an anthology which celebrates Asimov’s 50 years as a science fiction author, and each author takes their own approach to the Foundation universe.

The stories are:

  • The Nonmetallic Isaac or It’s a Wonderful Life (Ben Bova): not really a short story, more of an inspection of the impact that Asimov’s non-fiction writing has had on the world.
  • Strip-Runner (Pamela Sargent): set after The Naked Sun, a young female strip runner meets Elijah Bailey.
  • The Asenion Solution (Robert Silverberg): a pretty standard science fiction short story.
  • Murder in the Urth Degree (Edward Wellen): I haven’t read any of the Doctor Urth mysteries, so to be honest this story seemed pretty weird.
  • Trantor Falls (Harry Turtledove): covers the fall and sack of Trantor at the end of the first Galactic Empire. This one is pretty good, and in keeping with the overall Foundation universe.
  • Dilemma (Connie Willis): Asimov deals with some three law robots.
  • Maureen Birnbaum After Dark (George Alec Effinger): I find Maureen’s character to be superficial and annoying. This story didn’t really do it for me.
  • Balance (Mike Resnik): Susan Calvin wonders if robots are a better date than men.
  • The Present Eternal (Barry N Malzberg): is it good to be able to see with 100% accuracy into the past? This story was a bit disjointed, and not the best in the book.
  • PAPPI (Sheila Finch): a colleague of Susan Calvin brings home a robot companion for her son.
  • The Reunion at the Mile-High (Frederik Pohl): what if a biological weapon had been pursued instead of a nuclear one at the end of world war 2? What if Isaac Asimov hadn’t been a science fiction author because he was drafted into the effort?
  • Plato’s Cave (Poul Anderson): the robot debuggers Donovan and Powell return to help with a confused robot on Io. This story was pretty in keeping with the original Donovan and Powell stories, which was nice as those stories are classics.
  • Foundation’s Conscience (George Zebrowski): a researcher looks for records of missing Seldon appearances.
  • Carhunters of the Concrete Prairie (Robert Sheckley): this story was written by one of the guys who did the Bill the Galactic Hero spinoffs — specifically Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains. This story seems to suffer from similar problems — as best as I can tell its trying to be funny, but it doesn’t do it very well.
  • The Overheard Conversation (Edward D. Hoch): the Black Widowers meet for a dinner discussion. I haven’t read any other Black Widower stories, so I don’t have much of an opinion on this one, although it did seem like a pretty traditional pithy short story.
  • Blot (Hal Clement): explorers on icy Miranda interact with some cubes of unknown origin that appear to be communicating with each other.
  • The Fourth Law of Robotics (Harry Harrison): the Stainless Steel Rat meets Susan Calvin.
  • The Originist (Orson Scott Card): a scientist trying to determine the origin of the human race in the declining days of the Galactic Empire interacts with Hari Seldon and his Foundations.
  • A Word or Two from Janet (Janet Asimov): what is it like being married to Isaac Asimov?
  • Fifty Years (Isaac Asimov): Asimov reflects on 50 years of writing.

Obviously, being an anthology, some of these stories are better than others. However, this is a good collection with only a couple of stories I didn’t really like. I’m glad I found it.

[isbn: 0812509803]

Bill the Galactic Hero on the Planet of Bottled Brains

(Edited by Harry Harrison.) This book started off better than Planet of the Robot Slaves, but I found the random Star Trek and Star Wars rip offs in the middle of the book intensely annoying. This isn’t so much a satire it is a disjointed list of ideas. I’m disappointed to be honest.

[isbn: 0380756625]