Friday, September 22, 2017

Infinity Wars, edited by Jonathan Strahan

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(Military SF) Fifteen stories that explore the future of war itself. (101,247 words; Time: 5h:37m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"Infinity Wars," edited by Jonathan Strahan, published on by .

War is Hell

Infinity Wars contains 15 original stories of which we recommend 5 (average would be 3) and recommend against 5 (average would be 3). As a result, we called it "average" overall, even though there are quite a few really good stories here.

Although the theme of "the future of war" could lend itself to a lot of topics, all but one of the stories in Infinity Wars are Military SF--even though two-thirds of the stories are anti-war and anti-military. Many of them are at such pains to deliver an anti-war message that they sacrifice plot and character development to it, with unfortunate results.

Make Love not War

The stories take the following attitudes toward the military:
  • Hate it. Soldiers are doing evil: 7
  • Despise it. Soldiers are wasting their lives: 3
  • Admire/respect it. Soldiers are heroes: 5
All of the recommended stories are from the last group, which is a little odd. It's perfectly possible to write a great story from an anti-military point of view or with an anti-war message (e.g. Catch 22), but that's not what we find in this volume. Perhaps it's just a lot easier to write good military SF if you don't actually hate the military.

Specially Recommended

"Dear Sarah," by Nancy Kress, introduces us to a young woman from a poor background whose family bitterly hates the aliens whose advanced technology they blame for the loss of their livelihoods. As a soldier, she finds herself defending those same aliens from people like her family, and she has to make a choice.

"Weather Girl," by E. J. Swift, tells of a woman in charge of a secret project to use weather as a weapon and what should have been her moment of triumph.


"Command and Control," by David D. Levine, takes us to a future war between China and India in which a clever squad leader comes up with an audacious plan to win the campaign in an unexpected way.

"Conversations with an Armory," by Garth Nix, tells how a desperate group of people try to convince a long-dormant AI to release a cache of weapons that no one had ever thought would be needed again.

"ZeroS," by Peter Watts, describes a secret project to make super-soldiers via experimental augments and body modifications so risky that only the desperate or dying will agree to it.

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