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Science Fiction & Fantasy

No Truce With Kings / Ship of Shadows (Tor Double) - Poul Anderson,Fritz Leiber

No Truce With Kings / Ship of Shadows (Tor Double)

Author: Poul Anderson,Fritz Leiber
Book title: No Truce With Kings / Ship of Shadows (Tor Double)
ISBN: 0812559584
ISBN13: 978-0812559583
Publisher: Tor Books (January 1, 1989)
Language: English
Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4.6/5
Votes: 347
More formats: docx lit rtf lit

Two short novels tell of a military unit called the Catamounts trying to enforce martial law in the Pacific States of America, and life aboard the ship Windrush, a ship that sails nowhere
Reviews: (4)
For a period of time, Tor Books followed the example of Ace and put out a series of "Double Novels". (Most of them were really novella length stories.) The fifth in the series is Poul Anderson's _No Truce With Kings_ (1963) and Fritz Leiber's _Ship of Shadows_ (1968). Both stories were originally one-shot novellas in _Fantasy and Science Fiction_, accompanied by marvelous Ed Emshwiller covers. Both are Hugo winners. And both represent the authors at the top of their game.

_No Truce With Kings_ is a war story set in a post-holocaust California. America is a semi-feudalistic, semi-democratic society just begining to move on the road to civilization once more. But a Presidential coup triggers a civil war. Colonel James MacKenzie finds himself on the side opposite to that of his son-in-law, Captain Tom Danielis. A band of Espers and some not-so-neutral alien observers also come into the mix.

_Ship of Shadows_ is set on Windrush, a strange ship of plastic, with torus-shaped rooms. Time is not measured the same way as on Earth. Gravity is light. And the denizens are strange: Keeper, who runs a bar that dispenses liquor and moondust; the lovely Suzy and Almodie; the sinister crime lord Crown and his Hellhound; the benevolent Doc, with a little black bag that everyone wants. There is also Spar, who looks old but is really young, and who wants sharp eyes and sharp teeth. And there is Kim, the fierce and sibulant ship's cat who smells great evil afoot... possibly from vamps. Gradually, Windrush gives up its secrets.

I do not use the word "classic" lightly. But these two stories are science fiction classics. Together, they are a real bargain.
I can only voiuch for the Poul Anderson Novella, "No Truce with Kings" but I'll vouch for that a lot.
The plot first--California generations--probably centuries--after a nuclear exchange. A civil war is shaping up between a conservative faction, which supports localism, industrial feudalism and near isolationism and a "manifest destiny" element--reformist, modernizing and dedicated to the unification of North America by force of arms. The modernizers have clandestine help--from Outside?
The viewpoint characters are the more or less hereditary colonel of an infantry regiment on the conservative side and his sone in law and heir who has sided with the modernizers. Both are aware of the strengths of the other side's arguments, and the weaknesses of their own, and neither man wanted it to come down to this--but equally, neither man can stop it. And winning won't make either side right.

This one got, as I recall either a Hugo or a Nebula, and deserved it--the more so as Andersn doesn't shy from taking sides, and it's not the side he might have taken five or ten years earlier.

People are already asking why this story hasn't been included in the NESFA series yet. Buy it and you'll wonder why too.
Two classic works that have stood up well.

Anderson's tale follows Colonel Mackenzie of the Army of the Pacific States of America as civil war breaks out in the wake of the president usurping power. Decades after a nuclear war, the inheritors of the United States of America - rather like the European kingdoms after Rome's fall - are feudal, vie for power, and hope to recapture the technological and, perhaps, political glories of the past. Anderson's knowledge of history was deep, and he frequently mined it for plots. Here elements of the Middle Ages, the Rennaissance, and many a civil war show up. But, with the Espers, a religion that promises the development of man's latent psychic powers, something new in human history may have been brought into the mix. Hints may be found in the source of the title - Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Old Issue".

Pastoral, tragic, fast-moving, it's Anderson at his very best.

Leiber's story is something markedly different. (Though, for those looking for the hidden meanings behind the pairings in the Tor Doubles, I could suggest that Leiber and Anderson were friends, these were both Hugo winning stories, and both deal - on varying scales - with political struggles.)

The setting is a spaceship; Spar, the protagonist, is just a man who wants some teeth and better eyes. Old Doc says he may be able to use some old technology to give those to him. But then Spar gets involved with Crown, the local gangster. Oh, and people keep disappearing - maybe due to vampires.

With the surprise ending, the unconventional hero, and the story's lowlife, spacefaring setting, this story is still fresh and different. Its brand of future sleaze, space travel, and odd argot reminded me somewhat of Leiber's "Gonna Roll the Bones" from the same period.

Recommended for Leiber fans and those who like generation starship tales.
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