Future War edited by Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann
With the exception of Philip K.Dick's "Second Variety", the ten stories here were written after, or in the latter stages of the Vietnam war and it shows with tales of pill popping soldiers in jungle warfare against indigenous populations, cynical government psychological manipulations and war haunted veterans unable ever again to take a normal place in society.

Dating from 1953, "Second Variety" is not just the oldest tale here, by almost two decades, it is also the best and it highights Dick's favouite theme of questioning the reality of what we perceive. The only small problem with its inclusion is that it is so well known that it may not be new to most readers. It is not the only fine tale here. Ian McDonald's "Floating Dogs" is a fascinating tale of a proxy war fought between armies of automated weapons and augmented, computer directed animals who fight with no real concept of the purpose of the war and who thus make almost perfect soldiers.

If you want tales of war on earth, in space or even spread across the dimensions, you can get them all here and there are a lot good stories in this colection. As usual in this series, there are brief biographical and bibliographial notes for each author should the reader feel the need to explore further.

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rating
Seven out of ten.
A good selection of stories.
Detailed contents.
Dick, Phillip K.: "Second Variety"
Set in a near future war, originally between the East and the West, this story tells of a conflict in which soldiers in the form of self replicating weapons turn on their creators. The last men on Earth face attack from cyborgs which fool them with their human appearance. If this sounds like the movie "Terminator" then perhaps you should join me in wondering why it was the Harlan Ellison got payment from that film and not Phil Dick. Whatever, this is a terrific story and the highlight of the book. 9/10

Shepard, Lucius"Salvador"
A future war fought by the US in central America sees drugged up soldiers going crazy in the heat of the dense semi tropical forests. 6/10

McDonald , Ian: "Floating Dogs"
Another slant on the idea of the weapons slugging it out amongst themelves. This time, the protagonists are animals with cyborg booster implants. One finally works out what is being done as he watches Ceefer the cat, Peeg the Tapir and their friends all get killed in the name of a war that, for them, has no point. 8/10

Haldeman, Joe: "The Private War of Private Jacob"
Private Jacob fights with the help of a helmet that is linked to both his brain and his army's computer. When his NCO is killed, the computer back at the base simply upgrades his program to Sergeant status. 5/10

Reynolds, Alastair: "Spirey and the Queen"
This tale of a war fought in the distant future sees man's combat automatons making a leap to sentience. They decide to keep quiet about this and just keep the war ticking over to ensure that the humans do not catch on. This tale was chock full of ideas but there were too many of them. This would have worked a lot better as at least a long novella. 6/10

Daniel, Tony: "A Dry, Quiet War"
Soldiers are transported to the distant future to fight the great war at the end of time. When it is all over, they return, not always to their homes and never as the people who set out. With their ability to step out of a timestream and into another, these demobbed fighters are the vampires etc of the world. One such marauding bunch of glims takes a fancy to a small town not realising that it is the home of the greatest soldier of all who really just wanted a peaceful retirement. 7/10

Landis, Geofrey A.: "Rovik's War"
Rovik is drafted. He thinks that he is fighting a series of battles but finally he discovers that he is merely a part of an enormous psychological simulation. 7/10

McAuley, Paul J.: "Second Skin"
A spy is sent to rescue a scientist detained on a moon orbiting Neptune. He is double crossed by the scientist who wants to be freed but who does not want to be freed to return to Earth. An interesting tale which also paints a good picture of a habitat carved into the inside of a moon. 7/10

Steele, Allen: "The War Memorial"
A terrible battle is fought on the moon. All of the attcking soldiers are killed. Most by enemy fire. Just one dies of asphixiation when his armoured space suit fails and freezes into one position. He is left there as the unknown soldier in a war memorial. A littled dated anot not really with anything interesting to say. 5/10

Dozois, Gardner: "A Special Kind of Morning"
Set in a rigidly caste based society of engineered clones, this tale of the decisive battle in a war is rather spoiled by the author's decision to set it as a narrative told by a down and out veteran recounting the tale of his part in the war to a young man met in the street. Basically, it means that an otherwise interesting story is bracketed by several hundred words of ramble. But hey, theseguys get paid by the word and I bet that they all have mortgages etc. 6/10