- Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Baen (October 1, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 067172018X
- ISBN-13: 978-0671720186
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #505,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Falkenberg's Legion Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1990
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
John Christian Falkenberg III is the central character of the book; it's actually a collection of separate science-fiction short stories or novellas written by Dr. Pournelle earlier and published separately, with some additional material added to bridge between the stories and fill in the reader's picture of the future world of the book. Falkenberg has followed his father, a prickly academic with no talent for endearing himself to others or navigating academic politics, from university to university across an Earth dominated by the Codominium - a reluctant alliance between the United States of America and the Soviet Union (all of the stories which make the book up were written before the fall of European communism in the late 1980s-early 1990s).
The rest of Earth originally welcomed the end of the Cold War with its poise on the knife-edge of nuclear annihilation, but this peace has been bought at the price of cultural and technological stagnation; technology is strictly controlled by the Codominium, notionally to prevent the rise of new technologies that can make war more deadly or probable, but in practice also prevents any other nation or bloc of nations from out-pacing the USA and USSR alliance and challenging their domination of Earth. The only game-changing technology allowed has been the Alderson Drive, which permits human travel to planets orbiting other stars. An era of exploration follows in which habitable planets are found, then settled by humans.
Young John Christian Falkenberg gets into trouble, and joins the Codominium Space Navy as a midshipman at his father's connivance with a former student who is a member of the Codominium - and humanity's - governing body, the Grand Senate. The novel Falkenberg's Legion is the story of John Christian Falkenberg III's career as an officer of the Codominium's military forces; it's also a freewheeling adventure spanning a galaxy settled by Man and troubled just as much by war and crime as Earth is today. And it's a military yarn of the genre which began with Xenophon's story of one of the Persian dynastic wars, the Anabasis (itself a story of mercenaries fighting far from home, prevailing over long odds). And like the Anabasis, Falkenberg's Legion deals in verities and timeless realities. It's not a cheerful book because it deals in realities, not political dreams or self-deception.
But Falkenberg's Legion is a good book. While Jerry Pournelle may not be a tremendous prose stylist, he does know how to tell stories, to frame plot and to develop characters who are plausible, sympathetic and worth following. He also knows a great deal of military history and has helped make some as a contractor for the US Department of Defense, helping develop strategy during the Cold War which eventually led to an end to the Cold War which did not involve a nuclear war between the West and the communist East. He's also a wise man who knows that humanity is a flawed race; if our race's history is an indication, it'll never evolve into a utopia like Star Trek's "Federation," but will retain both its flaws and virtues for as long as it lasts, whether or not humanity ever travels past the orbit of the Moon.
I unreservedly recommend Falkenberg's Legion - it is intelligent, even wise science fiction as literate about why people do what they do as it is in how we might travel to other star systems.
While set some couple of centuries in the future, much of the book's technology is little advanced from our time, on the planetary surface. Due to a plot device where the CoDominium banned most research. This also permitted (or perhaps that was its intended point) Pournelle to write stories about mercenaries without having to strain unduly for exotic weapons or ideas.
Along these lines, the astute reader might note that the civilian society scarcely mentions the equivalent of our Internet. Sure, there's mention of computers and networks. But not an all pervasive web or mesh that ours is rapidly becoming. Ironic, that even a noted futurist like Pournelle would miss it. This is one of the aspects that dates the stories to pre-early 90s, if you did not know the actual publication dates of this book or of its contained stories.
The yarn is solid military SF. Most of its stories were composed at a time when the Soviet Union seemed eternal. Another way to date the stories. But it was also when Pournelle was actively writing, perhaps at the peak of his productivity. Sadly, in 2007 things are different. Given the fall of the Soviets, we are highly unlikely to see any more stories in this series. Darn! The Falkenburg character was compellingly depicted. While some detractors of Pournelle say this book is a paean to militarism, there is not much preaching of an overt dialectic. A romping read, and you can treat it at this level if you find Pournelle's politics disagreeable.
Another reason we are unlikely to see more such stories is that Pournelle has grown strangely quiescent in recent years. Apart from his irascible ruminations on his Chaos Manor website, there has been little output in the form of stories. Pity