by Ben Bova
Reviewed date: 2003 Oct 10
348 pages
cover art

Ben Bova writes competently, and his short stories in this collection are entertaining as always. But Bova includes too many Cold War stories that are not representative of his best work. There are some great stories too: Brothers, a story of an astronaut and his brother, a fighter pilot in Vietnam. But the book consists mostly of Bova's Cold War stories--stories that may have been more appropriate during the 70s and 80s when he wrote them, but which seem dated today. Not dated in technological or scientific ways, but simply a dated worldview. It is difficult today--at least for my generation--to read a pessimistic Cold War-era story that focuses on the hopelessness of the human race and the inevitability of nuclear armageddon.

What rescues the book, though, is the inclusion of several non-fiction essays. The essay about John W. Campbell, the greatest man in science fiction, is well worth reading. John W. Campbell, the editor of Astounding back in 1939-1950, practically single-handedly shaped the entire genre of science fiction. Therefore, on the basis of the informative essays, particularly the one about John W. Campbell, I recommend this book to all serious readers of science fiction. For casual readers, this isn't a bad book either, but it will definitely be more appreciated by serious readers.

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