Sunday, February 08, 2015

REVIEW: Riding the Red Horse

Title: Riding the Red Horse
Editor: Tom Kratman and Vox Day
Genre: military SF / military non-fiction
Price: $4.99 (ebook)
Publisher: Castalia House
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

I am not a fan of Vox Day.  He holds views diametrically opposed to mine on, if not everything, most things, and has a tendency to be very controversial.  I’m also not a fan of Colonel Tom Kratman, although I do respect his service.  Having said that, I've never felt that I should restrict myself to reading only books written by people I like, and so I took a flyer on Riding the Red Horse.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, there were a series of anthologies entitled There Will Be War. The books were a mixture of military SF and non-fiction.  Red Horse is a revival of the same concept, and some of the same authors (notably Jerry Pournelle) appear in both anthologies.  The basic concept of both books is history has not ended, and Man (and probably Non-Man) will always fight wars.

Red Horse has 26 separate works, half non-fiction and half short stories.  I found all of them well-written and thought-provoking, even if some of them I didn't agree with.  In short, I can recommend this unreservedly for fans of military SF.  Some noteworthy articles were:

Sucker Punch – the fiction debut of Eric S. Raymond, this is a near-future story in which China invades Taiwan.  I had an issue with some of the naval tactics employed, but the story as a whole was reminiscent of Tom Clancy’s better work.

Understanding 4th Generation War – a non-fiction article by William S. Lind, this was well-written and provided a good summary of an important concept.  I (and I suspect Col. Kratman) don’t agree with the concept, but that’s in part the point of an anthology like this.

A Reliable Source – Vox Day’s contribution to the book, which makes a point that should be obvious but apparently isn’t, namely the weakness of aerial drone warfare is the base “back home.”

The Hot Equations – a non-fiction article by Ken Burnside, a genuine Rocket Scientist ™, which says “there ain’t no such thing as stealth in space.”

The General’s Guard – written by Brad Torgersen, this is an interesting story on women in combat and on the idea that, as Stalin supposedly said, quantity is a quality all its own. 


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