After reading a string of novels, some of them longer than average, I felt it was time to read some short stuff. It started with a look at this month’s Asimov’s Science Fiction and When Shadows Fall, the collection by L. Ron Hubbard. I briefly went back to novels with the brilliant Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue by Hugh Howey, but I’m back to the shorter stuff. To start that off, I dove into another Hubbard book, this time an adventure novella, another book that is part of the Stories from the Golden Age series out from Galaxy Press.
Hostage to Death follows Lieutenant Edouard William deReilly, of the French Foreign Legion, stationed in Morocco to protect the train lines being used by the Spanish. However, upon receiving a note and gruesome trophy from Abd el-Ulad, a local Berber and enemy of the Spanish, with the threat of dismemberment of an innocent American woman if Reilly and his men didn’t come and save her. The obvious trap is sprung, and Reilly misses the attack on the train lines. His court martial is all a set up for a future plan that will take Bill Reilly farther than he has ever had to go before.
Along with the series introduction by Kevin J. Anderson, we are given a preview of the next volume in the Far-Flung Adventure branch of the series, Yukon Madness, a glossary of some of the more archaic words that might be found in fiction from the first half of the twentieth century, and finally an extended about the author section and listing of the stories to appear in Stories from the Golden Age.
Reilly’s tale starts off a bit unengaging, but that certainly picks up after the first couple chapters. His tale ends up to be rather exciting, despite the undertones of racism during a fight with troops from Senegal. Reilly struggles with disillusionment with the army he has fought with for so long, yet still sticks to his duty, all while saving the girl. While not the best of the reprints from Stories from the Golden Age, Hostage to the Death is still a fun diversion from the everyday.