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Dorsai (Childe Cycle)
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The 1993 TOR edition includes an introduction by David Drake, who notes that "Dorsai!" and Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" were both first published in 1959, and together form "the standard against which the subgenre of military SF must be judged." "Dorsai!" is certainly an enjoyable and well-written space adventure. Dickson effectively structures the story; we follow Donal as he rises up the military ranks from Senior Cadet to higher levels of responsibility. Dickson fills the book with fascinating details about Donal's world. It's particularly intriguing to get glimpses of the divergent human cultures and of the conflicts that exist among them.
Along the way the book addresses many significant themes, such as military tactics, the role of religion in a military organization, and leadership. At its best, "Dorsai!" goes beyond being just a solid adventure novel and can be genuinely moving and thought-provoking. Recommended companion text: Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War," another gem of military science fiction.
Dorsai! is the story of a young man from a world which trains the top warriors in the sphere of human colonization. Donal is totally focused on career and assignment, to the exclusion of almost everything else in life. In an odd sort of contrivance that doesn't ring true, Donal inspires great loyalty in those around him, yet he often exhibits little to no loyalty himself. More than thirty years after my first reading, I know from experience that type of loyalty imbalance is unlikely. The military strokes of genius in the book also don't come across to the older and more experienced me as nearly so brilliant as they did 30 years ago. His first major success ... having his command climb trees to avoid a surprise attack ... is actually highly flawed in both reasoning and sound small unit tactics. (Trees provide some measure of concealment, maybe, but no actual cover from fire, and if the enemy catches on and starts dropping your trees ... BIG trouble! LOL Dickson's surmise that the enemy might not catch on where the tree based fire is coming from is just silly.) Other battles are better thought out, but not exactly the uniquely shocking plans they are presented to be.
Donal is a surprisingly unappealing hero throughout. Other than the circumstance that as the lead in the story you know you are "supposed" to pull for him, Dickson doesn't really give you ANYTHING to like about him. He is focused, humorless, and relatively uncaring in all his relationships ...Read more ›
The novels of the main Childe Cycle include:
Dorsai! (alternate title: The Genetic General) (1959)
Necromancer (1962) (vt No Room for Man)
Soldier, Ask Not (1967)
Tactics of Mistake (1971)
The Final Encyclopedia (1984)
The Chantry Guild (1988)
In addition, there are four shorter pieces and three novels that take place in the same fictional universe as the Childe Cycle, but are not part of the core cycle.
"Lost Dorsai" (novella) and "Warrior" (short story), published together in Lost Dorsai (1981)
"Amanda Morgan" and "Brothers" (short story), published together in The Spirit of Dorsai (1979)
In the latter volume, the stories are framed by a conversation between Hal Mayne and the Third Amanda Morgan, during the events of The Final Encyclopedia. "Warrior" (1965) and "Brothers" (1973) had previously appeared in other publications. The four works have since been collected in one volume as The Dorsai Companion (1986).
The three other novels are:
Young Bleys (1991)
Antagonist (with David W. Wixon) (2007)
** This was based heavily on the Wikipedia article.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not the best Sci-Fi but okay for an easy read. It is what is called a command view of combat. I know many have called this series great, but so far I am not deeply impressed.Published 56 minutes ago by Jack M.
As with so many other reviewers, this read was a return to an old friend...a book I had read as a teenager, then young adult...and now perhaps 50 years later, well, older. Read morePublished 8 hours ago by LT, NYCity
Brilliantly spun tale of the not so far off future. Captures the imagination without wizardry or gadgetry. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Darwin D Deen Jr
Have read before so now have e-version so I can carry it around with me. Now want rest in series which I have not read.Published 23 days ago by Nevanna
If you loved Starship Troopers you will truly enjoy Dorsai! The entire Childe Cycle series of books on the Dorsai are a must read of classic sci-fi.Published 24 days ago by HDCRUZR