March 31, 2005

S.M Stirling's The Prince coauthored with Jerry Pournelle

I've just finished reading The Prince, which is a collection of the entire Falkenberg Legions and Sparta storylines they have ever written, and I must say that this bundle was better than the synopsis led me to believe. It delves deeply into the near future and a culture that we see the signs of, but have not irreversibly doomed ourselves too. It explores human nature, government, and the role of the military when everything has fallen down. It explores this through Falkenberg, a military genius. There's a lot of fun watching him solve problems using his military force on various worlds colonized by the CoDominium. And the last two stories, were more gripping than the others. Because while Falkenberg fought for a concept, civilization, rather than any particular nation it was always easier to see his mercenaries as professionals in the farflung future. Not so with Sparta, the Spartan militia and brotherhoods reminded me all too often of the American revolution, the American founding fathers, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This world of The Prince, is a world where America never became a hegemon, never became sole superpower, and therefore never pushed the Soviet Union to disperse. This is a world where colonies, like Sparta, have to fight a war of Independence from the criminals that the homeworld sends to them as refuse. The criminals use classic terroist and guerrila tactics, the same ones they are using in Iraq. The terroists kill, hit and raid, kidnap, and perform all sorts of atrocities without any consideration for the rule of law or the laws of war. Thereby excluding themselves from law itself.

Except the guerrilas have the backing of the only superpower that exists in the story, which is the CoDominium. Iraq has the backing of Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Minor powers at best. To see them fight such an insurgency to create a life without terrorism for their children on Sparta, was very gripping and brought home just how lucky we are to be living in an age where the American hegemony still exists, still exists to fight terrorism rather than appeasing it or using it as a means to take over our enemies.


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