nother from an outstanding collection of space warfare stories, Space Fighters, accumulated by Joe Haldeman way back in 1988. This time, it’s Gordon Dickson’s The Immortal.
So a grissled space pilot gets a wakeup call. He needs to head to HQ (on Earth). Here, he’s told that he’s going to fly a top secret mission with a “specialist” civillian (who is also trained as a gunner). Turns out we’re in an endless war with a bunch of baddies, out towards Polaris. They can’t get around us, we can’t get around us, so it’s endless grinding war between us. We’ve got ships that can jump (limited to calculations). And he’s on his way out to the fronteer with another four ships. And why? Because a ship lost decades ago, a French-Canadian scout supposedly lost to some special bomb, is returning from deep in enemy space, flying its endless way home. Is it haunted? Is the guy alive? We won’t know if the enemy finds him first, so off our hero goes on his suicide mission.
I thought the story really rolled well. Of course the hero dosen’t like his guy-in-back (it made for interesting tension, them bickering at each jump point). And when they do find the ship, La Chasse Gallerie, chugging along, of course here come the enemy fighters. And then it’s grab-him-in-our-tractor-beam and jump! But of course, deep in enemy territory, the hosiles can rely on planet-based computers to recalculate the jumps (as opposed to the heroes, who have their dinky ship’s comps). And so, with every jump, the enemy is there a little sooner, the heroes lose ships, and the La Chasse Gallerie continues along, singing softly to itself, pitted from the ages and slashed from enemy fire, a flying wreck but still homeward bound, still moving Earthward.
Yes, spookie and interesting and tense, a great read. I checked online and couldn’t find any copies so this one you’ll have to hunt down yourself. But I liked it – very good storytelling from a time when scifi was really hardcore.