There are so many great, fresh stories in this collection of new War Stories, I hardly know where to start. Editors Jaym Gates & Andrew Liptak must have been salivating reading each new tale, racing to reach the stellar endings. That is definitely the way I felt as I read each one.
Graves by Joe Haldeman
A bit of an older story, but still providing the horrors and specters of war, Haldeman delivers chills as his main character battles not with live combatants but nightmares.
In the Loop by Ken Liu
The remainder of the stories in this collection are brand new and they really break the borders. Kyra’s goal to make up for the trauma her father faced while in battle was to eliminate the human factor in battle. Liu forces us to think about whether that can truly be possible.
Ghost Girl by Rich Larson
What an absolutely haunting setting and story! A lone urchin and her robot protector attempt to survive in the lowest of possible conditions.
The Radio by Susan Jane Bigelow
This story touches on many levels. Can an AI have feelings and have its thoughts? Is it really alive? What is spiritual faith and how far would you go to express it? Bigelow explores all this and more as a damaged and stranded AI discovers the answers to some of these questions.
Contractual Obligation by James L. Cambias
Cambias walks us through a mission step by step as humans and AIs work together to extract another human. Will humanity triumph in the end or will the mercenary?
The Wasp Keepers by Marc Jacobsen
The idea of “wasps” as spies, as peace keepers, little drones that control your every move is repulsive and horrifying. Are we close to this yet? A mother’s love for her murdered son forces her to make some hard decisions to rebel or acquiesce to a false peace.
Non-Standard Deviation by Richard Dansky
Colonel Talbot discovers that a training simulation has gone awry and he’s bound and determined to twist its non-standard deviation to his advantage. Clever man!
All You Need by Mike Sizemore
I’m guessing the end of this line, “All you need…,” would be a gun. This short, short brings war down to its very simplest elements – a soldier and a weapon.
The Valkyrie by Marcus Broadus
This is a gritty, battlefield story with a bit of religious underpinnings. Broadus puts us right in the trenches with the mud, the blood, and the betrayals.
One Million Lira by Thoraiya Dyer
Two assassins battle it out, one the mentor, the other the student. Greed, survival, treachery – Dyer gives all of it to us in this interesting short story.
Invincible by Jay Posey
In this awful battling world that Posey has created, soldiers never really die, they are brought back again and forced to relive their deaths and the deaths of their buddies over and over again.
Light and Shadow by Linda Nagata
Would you rather feel all your human emotions and human frailties in battle or have a device that suppresses all that, making you robot-like, level-headed and non-reactive? A soldier in Nagata’s war decides to chuck aside the device and experience it for herself.
Warhosts by Yoon Ha Lee
I’ve never played the Pokemon games or any of the other monster, card-playing games. But if the battling monsters ever came to life and had a whole background of ancestry and myths, Warhosts would be it.
Suits by James L. Sutter
Sutter gives us a war fought by beings wearing battle suits. These combatants have created a whole underclass of techs created purely to service these suits. But the techs have minds of their own.
Mission. Suit. Self by Jake Kerr
When one directive is placed above all else, is there any situation where all three can be met when they all at odds? Kerr places this dilemma in soldier Billy’s hands and allows him to choose.
In Loco by Carlos Orsi
Forced to battle a local leader in order to obtain medicines and supplies for a peacekeeping mission, our hero plunges himself into the heart of battle, a real flesh and blood battle.
War Dog by Michael Barretta
Interesting love story in a post-war society where uncompromising religious zealots have taken over. Really unique characters and story.
Coming Home by Janine K. Spendlove
Post-traumatic stress disorder. Spendlove takes us through what someone experiencing this awful disorder might feel like, complete with sweat-inducing flashbacks and the mind-numbing present.
Where We Would End a War by F. Brett Cox
Amanda has come back from war and simply can’t adjust. She tries, but realizes that she won’t be successful. So she does what many other soldiers have done in the past, she launches herself back into the fray.
Black Butterflies by T.C. McCarthy
I love the contrast of the title even with this one – the image of a peaceful, harmless butterfly turned into a ruthless killing machine. Fantastic and nightmare inducing at the same time. This is a chilling story of wiping out a species to protect one’s own.
Always the Stars and the Void Between by Nerine Dorman
Our main character comes back home on leave, planning to resign from military life. However, she discovers the complexity of life at home and in general may make her change her mind. A strong main character is forced to choose home or the military once again.
Enemy State by Karin Lowachee
A unique love story about one man’s consistent and undying love for a soldier who becomes changed through the war. Lowachee presents the story with a fresh perspective.
War 3.01 by Keith Brooke
Brooke takes tech to new extremes as the Brethren of the Jihad hack their way into everyone’s streaming devices and convince the world they were now in power. We are now in the latest, most modern version of War.
These stories were all written so well, I really didn’t fully realize until I reached the end of this collection of stories and read that there was a female and LGBTQ focus to the stories. Yes, I noticed that many of the lead characters were female, and yes, I noticed that there were some gay and lesbian relationships. However, the well-written plotlines and strong characters in each story far outweighed the gender bending. So much so, in fact, that I barely even noticed. These are really powerful sci-fi war stories that are a must read!