Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dogs of War edited by Mike McPhail

Everyone has heard the typical response to anthologies: Some stories are good, some aren’t.  With so many different writers, it is more or less guaranteed that no reader will enjoy every story, and most of the time you find a few that just don’t work for you.  I came across this very situation with the last anthology I read, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume 30.  It is the nature of multi-author collections.

So when I read and loved the first story, Christopher M. Hiles’ “The Shepherds,” I figured that I would be coming across a dud soon.  When I finished “Brothers” by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, the final story in the collection, I realized that those duds never showed their face.  Editor Mike McPhail’s Dogs of War is brilliant military science fiction from start to finish.

Part of the Defending the Future military science fiction anthology series, Dogs of War takes the theme of dogs (or other companion animals) in combat, and runs with it in seventeen different directions, each one fascinating.  Some, like the aforementioned story by Hiles, felt like the start of a much bigger story, and readers will be keeping their eyes peeled for more from these authors.

Authors embraced the ideas of robotic dogs in combat, birds of prey performing recon, entire units made up of nothing but augmented animals, some even exploring the boundaries (or lack thereof) or human and canine soldiers in the future.  Readers concerned that Dogs of War would be a sappy collection of military science fiction dog lover stories are missing out on the massive breadth of content, the engaging conflicts and fascinating futures, and a host of talented authors.  Military science fictions fans will love this anthology.

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