illiam Dietz is an established scifi author with something like forty books to his credit, but everyone starts someplace. His origin was War World, an interesting first effort that launched his career. It’s been sitting one of my book boxes for ages, since the mid-eighties. Anyway, out it came for another read.
It’s a fun book, I’ll give it that. In the eighties, we were still gaga over dashing Han Solo (back in the days when he shot first). Now, after thirty years of grim realism (usually with sprawling worlds of mile-high slums and spaceships that take decades to get anywhere), the main character seems a bit space-operay. Will bounty hunters still wear vests, hip-holster slug throwers, and flick cigar ash disdainfully all over the place a thousand years in the future? Well, Sam McCade does.
You see, McCade got handed a dishonorable discharge (he didn’t blast a shipload of pirate refugees when ordered). Now, the same commander who cashiered him has gone rogue. Having applied his hobby of combing through the artifacts of a long-dead race, the embittered commander (suffering, it turns out, from a virus-induced dementia) has determined the location of the War World, a weapons dump for that long dead race. In his frothingly righteous anger (and provoked by alien provocateurs), it looks like he’ll turn this bomb bonanza over to our primary space enemies to use against us. So even though they cashiered him, even though they treat him like dirt, the Navy needs Sam McCade now, and will pull every trick in the book to get him back.
As I mentioned, it’s not hard science (but coming from a guy writing a steampunk novel about dashing pursuits across the long-ago (and unlikely life-covered) moon, I don’t have a lot of leeway here). No, it’s just for fun, with Sam taking his knocks (like any hardboiled noir detective), gaining on his target, learning more about surrounding events, all that good stuff. Sam punches, shoots, and cigar-flicks his way through encounter after encounter, eventually living to plant his boots on the fabled titled word, when all the cards are revealed, all the ironies played, and all the baddies triumphed.
So it wasn’t bad, this blast from the past. Would I recommend it? Well, with caveats – it’s just a fun, fast read, perfect for a lazy spring day (which is just when I read it). While this version is out of print, you can still find it repackaged under the title Galactic Bounty.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my own light-hearted, light-scienced scifi effort.