Combat Throughout Time Travel

 

Time travel stories are almost as old as science fiction. One of H. G. Wells’s earliest involved time travel. So is combat SF.

“Time Troopers,” edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, is a science fiction anthology combining the two themes: time travel and combat. Davis and Ruocchio assembled a stellar collection of tales ranging from short-short stories to novellas.

It is filled with stories by an all-star cast of authors. Contributors include twentieth-century science fiction giants Robert Heinlein, Keith Laumer, Poul Anderson, Fritz Leiber, A. E. Van Vogt, Robert Silverberg, and H. Beam Piper. 21st-century contributors include Davis and Ruocchio, Sara and Robert Hoyt, John C. Wright and Jacob Holo. Historian T. R. Fehrenbach and author Edmund Hamilton also provide stories.

The stories within it are gems. It opens with Heinlein’s classic “All You Zombies” and closes with Piper’s outstanding “Time Crime.” The stories between these are equally excellent, covering virtually every aspect of the time travel genre. In some, time travel is a combat weapon. In others, protagonists attempt to change history, restore history, observe history without changing it (only sometimes successfully) and travel sideways in time to alternate realities. A few combine tropes. Fehrenbach’s fascinating “Remember the Alamo” takes readers to that battle in a world where it is remembered for entirely different reasons than in this one.

The collection covers the spectrum of time in two ways.  The stories are set throughout time, from Paleothilic Earth to the unimaginably far future.  It also spans nearly a century of science fiction history. One of the stories was written in the 1930s, others in the 2020s, and the rest spread in a spectrum between those years.

This creates a different type of time travel. The stories are products of the time period in which they were written. Hamilton’s “Comrades of Time” captures the spirit of the 1930s. Van Vogt’s “Recruiting Station” reflects the war years of the 1940s.  The characters of “Time Crime” are at home in the 1950s, just as those in “Long Remembered Thunder” (Laumer, 1960s) , “Against the Lafayette Escadrille” (Gene Wolf, 1970s), “House of Bones” (Silverberg, 1980s), and “Delanda Est” (Anderson, 1990s) reflect the decades in which those tales were written.

“Time Troopers” offers readers a first-rate collection of science fiction tales centered on time travel. It reacquaints them with classic authors, and may introduce them to new authors who may become new favorites.

“Time Troopers,” edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, Baen Books, 2022, 464 pages, $16.00 (Trade Paperback) $10.00 (Ebook)

This review was written by Mark Lardas who writes at Ricochet as Seawriter. Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, TX. His website is marklardas.com.

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  1. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Sounds like a lot of fun. I’ll take a look! I don’t normally pay attention to publishers but Baen tends to do reasonably well with these types of stories.

    The Forgotten Ruin series by Anspach and Cole is something to definitely consider. I’ll add that while it isn’t directly time travel, it sits well on the fantasy/sci-fi different technologies<->”technology is like magic” spectrum. Rangers go through some sort of portal and end up in dark/high-fantasy world. It’s written military fiction style but the conceits are fantasy. I read book one and had myself down for book two (Kindle Unlimited!!!) but got busy. It isn’t perfect– some descriptive elements are too brief and sometimes the plot moves too quickly in a way that makes it seem some logical corners were cut– but book one was fun and it is playground I’m looking to visit again. The cast of characters is nice. 

    The other thing I have to mention is an anime called Gate: Thus the Japanese Self-Defense Force Goes to Another World. Same thing as above but anime and pro-Japan, since well… (you all can figure that out and if you watch you’ll see what I mean). The first six or so episodes are pure candy if you are at all interested in that sort of mash-up. Then it gets a weaker when they return to Japan. And then the series becomes sorta predictable when they return the fantasy world again. I can’t say it is entirely perfect but what they do does fit with the boundaries they set even if it means you can sorta guess how it ends. 

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Sounds good, and ending with the best is always a good idea.

    • #2
  3. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Fritz Leiber wrote an interesting book about combat in time entitled The Big Time.

    • #3
  4. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Fritz Leiber wrote an interesting book about combat in time entitled The Big Time.

    They mentioned it in the introduction. Could not include it because it was too long.

    • #4
  5. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    I have reduced my intake of science fiction over the years. However, I always loved time travel stories. I may have to this one up.

    I have not read a Baen book since reading an alternate history by Eric Flint that had a bunch of West Virginia coal miners transplanted to another time and place, and a union steward, because of his union background, somehow became the leader of the transplanted world. That fantastical notion amid the more interesting fantasies turned me off. 

    • #5
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    I have reduced my intake of science fiction over the years. However, I always loved time travel stories. I may have to this one up.

    I have not read a Baen book since reading an alternate history by Eric Flint that had a bunch of West Virginia coal miners transplanted to another time and place, and a union steward, because of his union background, somehow became the leader of the transplanted world. That fantastical notion amid the more interesting fantasies turned me off.

    1632.

    • #6
  7. David Carroll Thatcher
    David Carroll
    @DavidCarroll

    Arahant (View Comment):

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    I have reduced my intake of science fiction over the years. However, I always loved time travel stories. I may have to this one up.

    I have not read a Baen book since reading an alternate history by Eric Flint that had a bunch of West Virginia coal miners transplanted to another time and place, and a union steward, because of his union background, somehow became the leader of the transplanted world. That fantastical notion amid the more interesting fantasies turned me off.

    1632.

    Yup.

    • #7
  8. Ammo.com Member
    Ammo.com
    @ammodotcom

    David Carroll (View Comment):

    I have reduced my intake of science fiction over the years. However, I always loved time travel stories. I may have to this one up.

    I have not read a Baen book since reading an alternate history by Eric Flint that had a bunch of West Virginia coal miners transplanted to another time and place, and a union steward, because of his union background, somehow became the leader of the transplanted world. That fantastical notion amid the more interesting fantasies turned me off.

    In Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the main character lords over a primitive people because he knows how to make sandwiches. Much more plausible.

    • #8
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