If having your assumptions challenged and your mind blown could upset your delicate little psyche, you’re gonna want to click away right now.
If harrowing scenes of speculative, futuristic combat or stories about the men and women who fight for something greater than themselves fill you with dread, flee from here.
If center-right positions, hard science, or frank discussions of our past mistakes and future concerns make you want to hide behind your momma’s petticoats, you’d best stick to your internet safe-zone with all countervailing opinions neatly blocked away.
If the phrase “Trigger Warning” is something you watch out for and is itself a potential trigger for bad-thought . . . yeah, I got a book you’re gonna want to avoid.
However, if you can handle it and are a fan of kick-ass science fiction, of near-prescient analysis on what our future holds, or of some of the best writing you’ll see all year by great authors both new and old, well, for you I have your new favorite book.
Riding the Red Horse is a new anthology of military science fiction and analysis edited by Tom Kratman and Vox Day, from the fine Finnish folk at Castalia House. The title refers to one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in this case the Second Horseman of War.* The anthology, which contains 24 short stories, essays, and commentaries, is in the vein of—and an homage to—the There Will Be War anthology series by Dr. Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr, which started in 1983 and ran for 9 volumes. This series is also intended to be an annual endeavor and it very well could prove to be a highlight of your year.
So, what’s in Volume I of Riding the Red Horse that’s worth your time? This one has it all, from stories set on Earth’s land, oceans, and orbits, to stories set in the far future, in outer space far, far away from home. In some tales you may have to consider AI starships, or drone warfare and our vulnerabilities at home, and in others how we should respond to future kidnappings and terrorism by non-state actors. For those that like a little post-apocalyptic swords and horses in their military sci-fi, we have a tale from Hugo and Campbell nominated author Brad Torgerson with a pair of the best female characters you’re likely to come across. And if you prefer pure physics and high tech, we have a guide to the constraints of real space warfare with game designer Ken Burnside, as well as a treatise on how battlefield lasers will change warfare forever from Eric S. Raymond. Super-prolific author Christopher Nuttall gives us a glimpse of his ARK ROYAL’s past while Steve Rzasa shares a fantastic tale about artificial intelligence and loyalty to principles (and this one should be a potential Hugo nominee in a just world). Early reviews seem to agree that this is $4.99 VERY well spent.
Full disclosure, I also have a tale in the anthology, an honest-to-goodness sea story from the future. “Within This Horizon” deals with what happens when your dream job in space is denied to you, when your chance at redemption is snatched away after a loss, and how different people deal with assumptions and expectations. It’s also about kick-ass naval warfare between men and drones, with hypervelocity missiles, lasers, railguns, and rocket torpedoes all in the mix. After you read the anthology, I’d love you to come back and tell me what you thought of “Within This Horizon”!
Oh! I didn’t tell you! Riding the Red Horse also has classic contributions by those aforementioned worthies, Jerry Pournelle and John Carr themselves, which I think is very cool, as well as being great reading.
And last but not least, top-selling Baen Books author and editor Tom Kratman pulls no punches and spares no tender sensibilities as he introduces each piece and provides some commentary on the principles of war. Vox Day, the proudly infamous blogger, editor, and writer provides the preface and a great couple of tales (one of which vies for the top spot). These guys embrace the controversy and aren’t shy about their perspectives, nor should they be. As I joked above, some folks can’t handle differing opinions, or can’t separate the art from the source. Well, if you are that sort, you should nip that inclination in the bud and give this work a chance. You might be surprised to find how much you enjoy the ride, and how much it makes you think.
So, rush out now to either Castalia House or Amazon and pick up your copy! And after you’ve recovered from all the awesomeness, leave a review, recommend it to your friends, and then swing by here to tell me what you thought of “Within This Horizon.”
Thank you and Happy Reading!
* (No, Riding the Red Horse is NOT a euphemism for either Bolshevik heroin or a rude act. What, are you in 3rd grade?)