Man Kzin Wars IX - A Review

The latest release from the Man Kzin Wars series from Baen of the is for the first time a hardback edition (339 pages) consisting of four stories by Anderson, Colebatch, Chafe and Larry himself.

The latest release from the Man Kzin Wars series from Baen of the is for the first time a hardback edition (339 pages) consisting of four stories by Anderson, Colebatch, Chafe and Larry himself.

Pele (Paul Anderson)

This is Poul Anderson's last published story. It first appeared in Analog Science Fiction Magazine just as he died. The story is a sequel to Inconstant Star (MKW III). Thirty light years from Earth, the star "Pele" is about to undergo a major cataclysm: a 10-Jupiter mass gas giant is about to be absorbed by the star. As the planet "Kumukhahi" begins its deadly spiral, science ships from Earth and Kzin and a passenger ship containing Tyra Nordbo arrive to witness the destruction. Of course the dishonoured Kzin "Chrul-Captain" just can't resist being a hero and uses a prototype ship to get right in the middle of the action.

His Sergeant's Hour (Hal Colebatch)

Set during the last days of the Kzin occupation of Wunderland, His Sergeant's Hour tells the story of how Raargh-Sergeant and a bunch of other wounded Kzinti defend the life of a collaborator who has been branded a traitor by the Provisional Free Wunderland Government, all for a sense of honour.

Windows of the Soul (Paul Chafe)

Captain Joel Allson of the ARM has a murder on his hands with a dismembered body being found in a transport tube on the asteroid-come-space station world of Tiamat. This story is very reminiscent of the Gil The Arm tales by Larry himself.

Obviously a typo on someone's part but Windows of the Soul is called "Windows of the World" on the content's page of the book. Ooops.

Fly-By-Night (Larry Niven))

Baen books definitely saved the best for last with Larry's latest Known Space short story returns us to the adventures of one of its favourite characters, Beowulf Shaeffer, ex-pilot, adventurer and one of Larry's typical "space tourists".

Set after the events of Procrustes, Shaeffer finds himself onboard a passenger ship, the Odysseus, just as it is being captured by a ship of Kzinti pirates. Shaeffer is taken prisoner and develops an unusual alliance with a non-practising Kzinti Telepath, "Fly-by-Night" and his octopus-like Jotoki slave, "Paradoxical".

There are quite a few "in-jokes" to watch for in the story, amongst them:

Shaeffer screaming and leaping at a Kzin - ok he's got an excuse - he's in a vacuum and must expel all oxygen from his lungs before they pop.

The Kzin of the title using corks on his claws so he can use a human designed laptop keyboard.

A kzin using cheese as a face disguise!

Overall a very good collection.

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