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Berserkers: The Beginning Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, June 1, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Fred Saberhagen (1930-2007) is the author of the popular Berserker (tm) Series, the Dracula series and the bestselling "Lost Swords "and "Book of Lost Swords".

Barrett Whitener has been narrating audiobooks since 1992. His recordings have won several awards, including the prestigious Audie and seven Earphones Awards. AudioFile magazine has named him one of the Best Voices of the Century. He lives in Washington, DC. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Baen (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671878840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671878849
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,454,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kevin M. Christensen on July 7, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Berserkers are killing machines leftover from an interstellar war. Saberhagen's treatment of the theme has earned classic sf status. This omnibus volume combines Berserker and The Ultimate Enemy, which is not a bad thing of you don't have them. The most amazing thing to me is the astonishing leap from the initial appearance in a game-theory story (The Fortress Ship) to the emotional power of the second story, Goodlife, dealing with a boy raised by a Berserker ship. Avoiding formula, Saberhagen uses the stories to explore the boundary between life and non-life, most of the best stories keying on some essential gulf, in a couple instances, reserving the essential revelation to the last sentence. Try The Peacemaker or Patron of the Arts. The Johann Karlsen cycle is completed in the first volume, including the classic Stone Place, Mask of the Red Shift, In the Temple of Mars, and the Face of the Deep. The stories from Ultimate Enemy are linked only by the Berserkers themselves, but most are very good, and Wings Out of Shadow, The Game, Pressure, and What Do You Want Me to Do to Prove I'm Human Stop, are classics. My only criticism is that there are a couple of other short Berserker tales that could have been included to provide a complete ominbus of Berserker short fiction. One of my favorite SF series.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This compendium contains Saberhagen's tauted Berserker stories chronicled from the perspective of a benign historian of an advanced pacifist race. Individually the stories vary in their expose of humanity's battle against ancient war machines whose sole purpose is the extinction of all life. The berserkers have spent millenia cutting a swath through the galaxy until they finally come upon human occuppied space. Humanity, being the least evolved race and therefore having retained the barbaric ability to kill and make war, are, ironically, the only beings capable of defending life.
These stories are almost legendary classics among science fiction and have bred numerous reincarnations from Star Wars' Death Star to Star Trek's Borg. From Dr. Who to Babylon 5, these tales have been inspiration to the current generation of science fiction.
Unfortunately, Saberhagen's own talen's fail when tackling a longer format, and I cannot recommend the subsequent novels. This book though is pure gold.
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By A Customer on October 3, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The new title is misleading, as is the copyright date. This book was originally published as "Berserkers" in 1967 and "The ultimate enemy" in 1979. I wouldn't have bought it if I had known I already had a copy under a different title. Now I will say that the book is a good read. It's very intense in parts and can be quite graffic. If you don't already have a copy, I recommend it.
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These short stories posit a mechanical enemy, possibly left over from a forerunner conflict. The mission of the mech's is to eridicate all life. So, in all good conscience the reader can enjoy the destruction of an implacable enemy. The reader gets to learn a litte astronomical classification as a byproduct. I found the stories to be clever and fun. One story, towards the end I found to be uplifting. When I shared it at a campfire, my paraphrasing drew similar emotions and exclaimations, as I felt after reading the storey, from the teens and adults at the fire. Please try this read.
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This is a reprint of Fred Saberhagan's Berserker short fiction, his epic story about massive AI-controlled spaceships out to eradicate all life in the universe. The book is nicely organized chronologically, so you can see how the war evolves over the centuries, along with the evolution of the concept of the Berserkers as well as Saberhagan's writing style. All the classic shorts are in here, so this is a relatively complete collection for both old fans of the series, as well as a great introduction to new fans.

Unfortunately, though, I cannot recommend it. The quality of the editing for this edition is so poor, that I wonder if the book was edited at all! There are typos and missing punctuation all over the place. I mean, I've read fan fic that was better edited than this! Add in the inexplicable cover blurb "You galaxy is toast, Monkey Boys", something that sounds like it has more to do with Buckaroo Bonzai than the dark future of Saberhagan, and I am left to wonder if this book was conceived as a prank on Saberhagan fans by Baen. Either that, or it was a "three Martini lunch day" at the Baen offices when it was put together and sent to the printer.

If you can stomach such a sloppy presentation, you might want to get this edition. Personally, I would wait for a new edition as Baen should not be rewarded for such a sloppy job as this. Saberhagen deserves better.
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Decades ago, Fred Saberhagen created a universe where humanity and a few other species are at war with a race of machines. Nobody knows too much about the machines except that they are programmed to destroy all life. The supposition is that they were created for an ancient war and that they eventually destroyed their creators. Now they are the problem of the entire galaxy.

This is not one story. Instead, it is a collection of shorter stories. Some are very compelling and some were, to me, a bit tedious. This impression may just be because of the mood I was in while I was reading them. They are all old but very timeless. This was a major series in its time and it is still worthwhile today. It is not my favorite but I have no regrets in having read it. I will probably read all the others as well.
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