Tag: so sick

Tactics of Mistake

Tactics of Mistake front and back cover.


Tactics of Mistake was an enjoyable read. It’s worth noting that I generally like Gordon R. Dickson’s work, and have read a scattering of his Dorsai novels. The main weakness in this story is how well Cletus Grahame predicts events and people’s actions. There are a handful of cases where things go awry, but these setbacks are small scale and grounded in chance, not in a failure of Cletus’ strategic and tactical acumen. For the one main character to be consistently entirely correct is entertaining, but feels quite artificial, and crushed my suspension of disbelief. However, turns out I didn’t need it anyways. Cletus’ insights are always grounded in considering the environment or his opponent’s goals and psyche. In that regard, it is less a matter of Cletus being prescient and more a matter of it being unbelievable that all his opponents are incapable of making similar insights.

While there are many definitions of science fiction, one of the more prevalent is that science fiction asks “what if this set of changes happened? How would that change the world?” In that vein, Tactics of Mistake explores how the use of mercenary forces in colonial battles might affect the structure of combat organizations and the skills and outlook required for soldiers and officers. The introduction of the mental power of concentration and how useful that is for soldiers is fascinating, especially given the current trend promoting mindfulness and meditation for efficiency improvements in the workplace. Cletus is the vector for pretty much all of this considerations, and that gives the book a strong “one self-made man changes the universe” vibe.

There is also a romantic subplot that has to my eyes not aged particularly well.

Cover Art Review: Sublime! I really really like the shading on the jacket and the color palette used, especially the contrast of the stark white book title, the fiery glow of the background, and the blue military uniform in the foreground.





Today I finished reading Hegira, by Greg Bear, published by TOR. The text is copyrighted 1979, and notes a revision in 1987.

Hegira was intriguing and had a unique feel to it. For a story of adventure and travel, the tone is rather calm and reflective for much of the book, although there are periods of grim dread as well as tense action at times. Hegira follows the journey of three people across the surface of Hegira, seeking knowledge of the world and the truth: Bey Bar-Woten, an Ibisian soldier, Barthel, Bar-Woten’s man-servant, and Kiril, a young scrittori scribe from Mediwen. They are all well developed, Kiril and Bey more so. The narrative flows from all three of their perspectives, often without a clear transition. Surprisingly, this was only jarring a few times. I think this is part of what lends the book its unique feel, in how despite their vastly different backgrounds and outlooks, they share the same goal and drive, and this technique of melding their perspectives shows that.

The Obelisk concept works greatly to establish that unique feel. Bear uses it especially well to explain and develop the world believably. Hegira is a highly intriguing mix of cultures, philosophies, societies, and economies, which is interesting not only intellectually but also has ramifications for the societal and character interactions that drive the plot. There is also a mystery woven into the entire story that compelled me to keep reading, the mystery of Hegira, the obelisks, and the truth of the world. I would say the story becomes less interesting and believable as more of the mystery is revealed and the end approaches, but it is not a fatal failing. I could see where the plot was going, but the exact contours were still a reveal.

COVER ART REVIEW: Super awesome, and does a great deal to convey the concept behind the obelisks.