Soldier, Ask Not

by Gordon R. Dickson
Series: Childe Cycle 3
Reviewed date: 2005 Jun 24
Rating: 3
313 pages
Awards: short story version won 1965 Best Short Story Hugo
cover art

It's not as good a book as Dorsai but it's a decent read. Earthman Tam Olyn is one of the few men on whom history itself pivots: he has that indefinable quality of being able to manipulate key events in order to shape history.

For this reason the Final Encylopedia project wants him as their leader. He rejects a job as head of the greatest knowledge compendium in favor of becoming a free-lance journalist. He travels the known worlds ostensibly as a journalist but in reality he manipulates events to destroy whole cultures.

Tam Olyn's driving desire to destroy is not adequately explained, and thus Soldier, Ask Not fails in some way. (Further, I'm quite sure that Dickson's ontogenetics is a code word for Isaac Asimov's psychohistory, with some window dressing to hide the similarities. That doesn't make it bad, except that ontogenetics makes no sense whereas Asimov managed to make psychohistory at least sound vaguely plausible.)

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