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The Good, the Bad, and the Merc: Even More Stories from the Four Horsemen Universe (The Revelations Cycle Book 8) by [Chris Kennedy, Kacey Ezell, Jason Cordova, Terry Mixon, Terry Maggert, Kal Spriggs, T. Allen Diaz, Stephanie Osborn, Christopher L. Smith, Philip Wohlrab, Robert  E. Hampson, Eric  S. Brown, Marisa  Wolf, Jon  R. Osborne, Mark Wandrey]
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The Good, the Bad, and the Merc: Even More Stories from the Four Horsemen Universe (The Revelations Cycle Book 8) Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Foreword by David Drake
SOLDIERS AND THE CIVIL GOVERNMENT
Anyone with a background in history knows that mercenary soldiers often have a difficult relationship with the government they're working for. Mercenaries have sometimes overthrown the employing government, but from my reading I don't believe that's as common as national armies mutinying to put their general on the throne. (Occasionally even against the general's wishes; but once the subject is raised, the general has no option but to go along with the rebellion).                                                                                                                             
A more common scenario is for a civil government to decide that it's more practical to stiff mercenaries of their pay--and often, for safety's sake, to massacre the former mercenaries.                                                                                                                             
Some of the most famous figures in the classical world were involved in this sort of treachery. Aratus of Sicyon, the greatest leader of the Achaean League, decided that paying the League's mercenaries after one of its wars with the Aetolians would cause the citizens of the League undue financial strain--so he simply dismissed the troops unpaid.                                                                                                                                    
The consequences for the League weren't immediate, but they were serious nonetheless: the Acheans weren't able to hire mercenaries the next time they needed them--and war was endemic in Greece of the 3rd century BC. In the slightly longer term, Aratus and the League might have been better off if they had behaved honorably.                                                                                                                                                    
In a similar situation, the Carthaginians fought the First Punic War largely through mercenaries. (The most famous being Xanthippus, the Spartan soldier who trained the Carthaginians to defeat and destroy the Roman invasion force under Regulus.)                                                                                                                                                                                        
Despite the victory over Regulus, Rome won the war and imposed heavy penalties on Carthage. The Carthaginians decided they were unable to pay Rome and also pay their mercenaries--and decided that cheating the mercs was the better option. They decided to disband the mercenaries in small groups and send them away with partial payment or less. The mercenaries figured this out and rebelled before the plan could be implemented.                                                                                                                                                         
The result was an extremely vicious war which the Carthaginians eventually won by putting Hamilcar Barca in charge. He had been leading the mercenaries effectively in Sicily and due to Hamilcar's skill, the revolt was suppressed. The mercenaries were largely slaughtered.                                                                                                                                                      
In this case, there's no question but that Carthage would have been better off treating the mercenaries honorably to begin with. That isn't the way governments seem to think. Soldiers are, to civilian governments, basically disposable once the fighting ends.                                                                                                                                                           
I'm not talking only about 'mercenary soldiers' who are, after all, hirelings and often foreigners. ("Often" but not by any means "always.") Housman's famous Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries referred to the professional soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force in 1914, who stopped the many-times larger German First Army's drive for the coast, thereby saving France. To an upper class Brit they, though British citizens, were merely mercenaries because they fought for pay.)                                                                                                                                                                   
For an example of more personal interest to me, consider the way the United States government treated its soldiers during the Vietnam War. All the government cared about us--enlistees as well as draftees--was numbers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Robert S. McNamara, the technocrat who shaped the US conduct of the war, lowered the Army minimum intelligence test level for recruits by two points, adding another hundred thousand manifestly unfit soldiers (Project 100,000). He also began drafting graduate students. I don't know how many bodies that added, but my estimate in 1969 was that a third of my Basic Training Battalion was white kids from Western North Carolina; a similar percentage of black kids from Detroit; and the remainder were college graduates.                                                                                                                        
The first thing the army tried to do after drafting college graduates was to get us to sign up for a longer period of active duty than the two years we were required to serve. A lieutenant took me into his office and ran through a long list of special training that I could take. Except for the last, all the options involved me giving the Army an additional one or two years of active duty. (It would also involve my serial number being changed from US to RA--that is, enlisted instead of drafted. Keep that in mind when you look at figures on how many of the troops in Nam had been drafted.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
The lieutenant also emphasized why I might want to do that: anyone with a college degree who didn't sign up for a special school would be classified 11B--infantry--and sent to Nam as a grunt. (I took the last option, the 47-week Vietnamese language course in 30 weeks. I was still going to Nam, but this way I wound up riding armored vehicles instead of humping through the boonies on foot. That was just good luck.)                                                                                                                                                                                 
Everyone knows the American public didn't welcome returning Nam vets, but how did the US Government prepare us to return to the civilian lives from which it had ripped us for what Mr. McNamara later described as "a terrible mistake"?                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
In my case, I got several weeks knocked off my tour in Viet Nam so I could return to Duke Law School (out of which I'd been drafted). Seventy-two hours after I left the Returnee Barracks at Long Binh, heading for my flight to Travis AFB in California--back to The World, as we put it in Nam--I was in the lounge of Duke Law School, preparing to start my fourth semester.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
There was no counselling offered (not that I wanted it; I just wanted out of the Army). The US Government didn't care any more about its former soldiers than Aratus or the Carthaginian Senate had about theirs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
I guess we should be glad they didn't decide to massacre us. I'm very much afraid it may have crossed some governmental minds, though.                                                                                                                                                              
The government left it up to me and other veterans to take care of ourselves. My way of doing that was to write stories which allowed me to describe the experience of a soldier in Viet Nam, using fiction as a distancing mechanism. I wasn't writing history, I wasn't even writing personal memoirs.                                                                                                                                                                    
I was, however, trying to tell the truth about what a soldier feels--and perhaps more important, what a soldier doesn't feel. If you let yourself feel too much in a war zone, you go nuts. You do the things you have to do, and you keep on going. Or of course you die; and even if you walk off the plane without a visible wound on your return to The World, you may have given yourself up for dead months before.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
This sort of realistic appraisal of what it means to be a soldier was almost unique in the science fiction of the '70s when I started writing about Hammer's Slammers. The stories didn't sell for over a year, but I continued to write them: they were my counselling, a chance to tell the truth aloud--and let my anger out in a socially acceptable fashion.                                                                                                                                  
When the stories did sell, they gained a following--there were a lot of veterans out there. As a result it's now possible to write military SF which realistically explores the cost of war, including the cost to the soldier. The book you're holding is an example of that new appreciation.                                                                                                                                                   
Dave Drake
david-drake.com
July 21, 2017

From the Author

This book was born in the same place as the rest of the Four Horsemen Universe--in a bar. Mark and I were talking about the universe, and where we wanted to go with it, and we realized the galaxy was a lot bigger than we were going to be able to flesh out on our own any time soon.                                                                                                                                                                                     
We needed help.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
So we asked some authors we knew, and some we just sort of knew of, if they'd like to help us expand our universe by writing a short story set in the universe. We were overwhelmed at the response--this is the third (and final, at least for now) of the books necessary to accommodate all of the authors who said "Yes!" when we asked them to participate. Like us, they found the universe a lot of fun and couldn't wait to jump in.                                                                                                                                                                              
We gave them a short primer on the universe and sent them on their way with only two points of guidance: it had to be set in the Four Horsemen Universe, and it had to be good. As such, these 16 tales describe the highs and lows of life on the battlefield, as well as in the streets and alleys of the Four Horsemen Universe. While some deal with mercenaries, others introduce readers to members of the other guilds, organizations, and races. "The Good, the Bad, and the Merc" not only gives you a look at some of the 4HU past...but a sneak peek at what lies in store, hidden like an Easter Egg for you to find.                                                                                                                                                                                             
Like its predecessors, "The Good, the Bad, and the Merc"includes all-new stories by a variety of bestselling authors--and some you may not have heard of...yet. Edited by universe creators Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy, authors Kal Spriggs, Terry Mixon, Terry Maggert, T. Allen Diaz, Philip Wohlrab, Chris Smith, Jason Cordova, Stephanie Osborn, Robert E. Hampson, Eric S. Brown, Marisa Wolf, Jon R. Osborne, Kacey Ezell, Mark Wandrey, and Chris Kennedy take on various aspects of the universe, giving you additional insight into a galaxy where there are good races, bad races, and a whole lot of mercs!
Mark and I are indebted to the authors who participated inthis project for their time and talents, and to David Drake for the foreword.                                                                                                                                                                                                
Why David Drake for the foreword to the third of these anthologies? Hammer's Slammers. This is one of the best mercenary books, ever. One of the first scifi books I ever read was Hammer's Slammers, and it is a major reason why you're reading this right now. It also taught me the word cyan,which, as a guy, was a color I didn't know existed. The bottom line is if you haven't read Hammer's Slammers, you should. Having been there, David Drake knows what war is all about, and we're indebted to him for sharing his thoughts.
 
Chris Kennedy
Virginia Beach, VA

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B077H6H36M
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Seventh Seal Press (November 14, 2017)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ November 14, 2017
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 2405 KB
  • Simultaneous device usage ‏ : ‎ Unlimited
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 471 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1942936893
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 107 ratings

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5.0 out of 5 stars More fabulous Four Horseman stories
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5.0 out of 5 stars Kepps on getting better!
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