Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Best of Keith Laumer -- Keith Laumer

Adventure, humor, military SF, Keith Laumer could do just about anything and make it seem easy.  This collection is ample demonstration of that, even if not all the stories seem like "best of" material to me.  I'm thinking here of "Doorstep," which seems more like a joke than a story, and it turns out that the puzzling title isn't really a title, but sort of the punchline, since you have to get to the end of the story to figure it out.

For those of you who are fans of Laumer's work, there's one Bolo story ("A Relic of War"), but there are no Retief stories.  Apparently lots of people don't care for Retief, but I think the stories are hilarious.

My favorite in this collection is probably "The Planet Wreckers," which combines wild adventure and equally wild humor in what may be the ultimate comment on reality TV, although the story was published in 1967.  I like the Bolo stories, so I enjoyed that one, too, and "Cocoon" is a scary take on an early form of virtual reality.  "The Devil You Don't" is a funny take on the Devil and certain problems in Hell, and "Thunderhead" is a military story about duty and heroism.  Good stuff, and a good introduction to Laumer, although I prefer his novels, like Worlds of the Imperium and A Trace of Memory.

Table of Contents:
Introduction · Barry N. Malzberg
The Planet Wreckers
The Body Builders
Cocoon
The Lawgiver
Thunderhead
Hybrid
The Devil You Don’t
Doorstep
A Relic of War

5 comments:

George said...

Back in the Sixties, Keith Laumer was one of my favorite SF writers. Loved A TRACE OF MEMORY and the Retief series. Later, health issues limited Laumer's ability to write.

James Reasoner said...

I noticed a copy of WORLDS OF THE IMPERIUM on my shelves just the other day and was thinking about reading it. Now I'll go ahead and pull it out for sure. Haven't read Laumer in years. Decades, even.

William Seward said...

Another vote for Retief.

Rich Horton said...

I wonder if they weren't deferring to the full-length Retief collections (some of which, as I recall, were marketed as quasi-novels even though they were story collections really). I like Retief but, it must be said, in pretty small doses. (And, alas, only early Retief, but sadly that goes for almost all of Laumer's work.)

Bill Crider said...

The later Retief is sad stuff, all right. And most of the later work, too. But the early work is a heck of a lot of fun most of the time.