Apex Publications’ new anthology War Stories: New Military Science Fiction, edited by Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak, contains 23 sf and fantasy stories dealing with the effects of war on soldiers and the people who love them.
The collection was funded by successful Kickstarter appeal where the editors promised —
War Stories isn’t an anthology of bug hunts and unabashed jingoism. It’s a look at the people ordered into impossible situations, asked to do the unthinkable, and those unable to escape from hell. It’s stories of courage under fire, and about the difficulties in making decisions that we normally would never make. It’s about what happens when the shooting stops, and before any trigger is ever pulled.
Two of these extraordinary stories can be read free online.
Karin Lowachee’s “Enemy States” is one of the best things I’ve read this year. Here’s a short quote without spoilers:
It didn’t occur to me until later that you’d lied about the experience. That you just wanted an excuse to do something I loved. That you dived in so readily and risked your limbs for an extra day together. “I’m not bad with machinery,” you said. “Just not used to roads.” We walked back to the garage, five miles pushing the bikes on snow–dusted road, with rockets from the base launching in the distance, returning your brothers and sisters to the stars. The contrails carved white across the blue sky, making wedgewood out of the Earth’s canopy.
In this story emotion is at the forefront, yet it also conveys a detailed and unexpected universe in a matter-of-fact way – no infodumps. I was very impressed. It’s the first of the author’s works I’ve read and after finishing it I opened Google and began a crash course in Karin Lowachee. I learned she’s been writing for a long time. Alex von Thorn interviewed her a dozen years ago for SF Site — Next time I talk to him I must ask what he’s reading now.
The collection also reprints Joe Haldeman’s 1992 story “Graves,” which first appeared in F&SF and can be read online at Nightmare Magazine.
You tell people what you do at Graves Registration, “Graves,” and it sounds like about the worst job the army has to offer. It isn’t. You just stand there all day and open body bags, figure out which parts maybe belong to which dog tag—not that it’s usually that important—sew them up more or less with a big needle, account for all the wallets and jewelry, steal the dope out of their pockets, box them up, seal the casket, do the paperwork. When you have enough boxes, you truck them out to the airfield. The first week maybe is pretty bad. But after a hundred or so, after you get used to the smell and the godawful feel of them, you get to thinking that opening a body bag is a lot better than ending up inside one. They put Graves in safe places.
Haldeman takes the reader on a battlefield tour of places no human wants to be – with a payoff that makes those horrors feel familiar and safe by comparison.
Among the other well-known contributors are Linda Nagata, Ken Liu, and Jay Posey.
The full table of contents follows the jump.
Table of Contents:
Foreword — Gregory Drobny
Graves — Joe Haldeman
Part 1: Wartime Systems
In the Loop — Ken Liu
Ghost Girl — Rich Larson
The Radio — Susan Jane Bigelow
Contractual Obligation — James L. Cambias
The Wasp Keepers — Mark Jacobsen
Non-Standard Deviation — Richard Dansky
Part 2: Combat
All You Need — Mike Sizemore
The Valkyrie — Maurice Broaddus
One Million Lira — Thoraiya Dyer
Invincible — Jay Posey
Light and Shadow — Linda Nagata
Part 3: Armored Force
Warhosts — Yoon Ha Lee
Suits — James Sutter
Mission. Suit. Self. — Jake Kerr
In Loco — Carlos Orsi
Part 4: Aftermath
War Dog — Mike Barretta
Coming Home — Janine Spendlove
Where We Would End a War — F. Brett Cox
Black Butterfly — T.C. McCarthy
Always the Stars and the Void Between — Nerine Dorman
Enemy States — Karin Lowachee (Read for free at Apex Magazine!)
War 3.01 — Keith Brooke
Cover art by Galen Dara.