So It Begins is an anthology of 15
stories with a military/war theme, edited by Mike McPhail. It features
contributions from some of the best writers of military science fiction at the
top of their form. I canít review each story, so Iíll just talk about my
Last Report of Unit Twenty-Two" by John C. Wright features an
investigation made after a cyborg, designed to collect ore from asteroids, has
stowed away on a barge in an attempt to reach Earth. The story of why and how
this happened is a touching one that I enjoyed.
"The Battle for Knob Lick" by
Patrick Thomas is a war against infectious, flesh-eating zombies. Andie
Hastings was a Colonel in the Host but has been demoted for a wrong decision. She
and four other disgraced soldiers are given the job of rescuing as many
uninfected as possible. Thomas writes a great tale of courage and redemption.
"First Line" by Danielle
Ackley-McPhail features Lieutenant Sheila "Trey" Tremaine. Gravely
wounded in combat and dying in a hospital bed, she is offered the chance to further
serve after death by having her brain scanned transferred into a robot,
preserving her expertise. Now in a "packbot," she is still self-aware
and sent into combat. This was a well-written look at how it might be to "live"
as a robot.
"To Spec" by Chuck E. Gannon is a good
solid read! Master Sergeant Eldridge Grimsby has been at his job a long time,
frequently in trouble. Left alone during a deadly rain of cosmic rays in a
shielded shack, he must defend something just referred to as the Big Secret. Attackers
come and he must use a weapon he is not fully trained in to survive. I liked
this one a lot.
"Grendel" by Jack Campbell (John
G. Hemry) is a "Lost Fleet Campaign" story. Commander Geary and his
Exec, Lieutenant Commander Cara Decala, are leading a routine transport convoy
in the star system Grendel. They are suddenly confronted with a fleet from the
rival Syndicate. Is it war? Geary does what he needs to do in this exciting
In "The Glass Box" by Bud Sparhawk,
Sergeant Millikan is sent down to a planet, invaded by aliens called the
Shardies. They receive a distress call from someone who survived the invasion
for six months. On the planet the "bionic" marine finds a young girl
named Tashia who gives him what may be vital information on the Shardies. More
I wonít say, except that Sparhawk has written a well-crafted tale.
"Everythingís Better with Monkeys" by
C.J. Henderson is another story featuring Chief Gunnery Officer Rockland "Rocky"
Vespucci and Machinist First Mate Li Qui Kon (aka "Noodles"), members
of the crew of the Dreadnought Roosevelt of the Confederation of Planets. Their
ship is part of a diplomatic mission to the planet Edilson, which has refused
alliances with all other worlds. First efforts fail, but Rocky & Noodles,
once more, save the day in this delightful story.
There are also worthy stories by James Daniel
Ross, Jonathan Maberry, James Chambers, Andy Remic, Jeffrey Lyman, Mike McPhail,
Tony Ruggiero and another from Charles E. Gannon. This is a worthwhile
follow-up to Breach the Hull and I
recommend it just as highly!