OK, 2 points to anyone who knows where the title quote comes from. Any Sci-Fi commando worth his waldoes should know that one. In any case, I’m right in the middle of a re-read of David Weber & Steve White’s “The Stars at War”, and it’s a rocking good read. An omnibus edition containing two great novels, “Insurrection” and “In Death Ground”, “The Stars at War” follows an ensemble cast through two Interstellar wars. Weber is a master of space combat, as those of you who’ve read the Honor Harrington series know, and Steve White knows what he’s doing as well.
Without going into a complete synopsis of the two stories, suffice it to say that they’re both about virtually unstoppable alien warmonger’s who invade human space. After suffering initial setbacks, mainly caused by self serving politicians and liberal fascists, the honor, courage & commitment of the human armed forces saves the day.
I tend to go through cycles of reading material, moving from hard sci-fi to fantasy, to military fiction, and back. “The Stars at War” falls squarely in the military sci-fi camp, although it tends to have deeper levels of meaning. But that’s the great thing about really good science fiction, even in an old fashioned space opera, with the ray guns blasting and the warp drives singing, there’s something that makes you think about what it means to be human. And I don’t mean in the biological sense. I’m talking about the Terentius, Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto, sense here. With all of the diversity around us, the major differences in culture, religion, thought, philosophy, we all have the same hopes and dreams. A better life for our children, freedom from pain and suffering, the chance to find love, the pursuit of happiness… And some of us have had to (or are willing to) fight for those things. Creating a universe where we can explore what would happen if we all pulled together against the real enemies out there is the truest function of science fiction. It shows us an idealized mirror where our defining characteristic is not that we’re Jews or Christian or White or African, but that we’re human, that we’re people, and it let’s us imagine what might happen if we could put aside our differences and work together. Maybe that will happen someday when and if we finally do find that we’re not alone in the universe, or maybe it will remain a pipe dream, but I love Weber & White for making me think about it.