I read this one for a couple of reasons. First, it’s mentioned as a source for the Traveller role-playing game in Shannon Appelcline’s The Science Fiction in Traveller – the book that initiated my recent burst of H. Beam Piper’s works. Second, it’s listed in “The 5 Parsec Shelf” of 50 significant science fiction novels in A Reader’s Guide to Science Fiction. (After seeing it 40 years ago, I still haven’t read the entire list.)
Essay: Dorsai!, Gordon R. Dickson, 1960, 2013.
It’s an essay this time around because I had enough trouble writing this without the stricter structure of one of my reviews.
The gears of this novel did not easily engage my brain on a first reading.
There was the violation of expectations. For a novel cited, not only in David Drake’s introduction but elsewhere, as being, with Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, the founding text of the military science fiction subgenre, only a very small portion of it has scenes of combat. (I could make an argument for including L. Ron Hubbard’s Final Blackout as an ancestor of the subgenre too.)
There is a lot of talking including in the combat scenes.
The names were, for some reason, hard to remember.
Dickson’s universe is sketched in very broad terms only. Humans have spread to the stars and are undergoing speciation of a sort with “exotics” of a rather ill-defined sort.Continue reading