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Man Kzin Wars: 7 Mass Market Paperback – 1 January 1995
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- Publisher : Baen Books (1 January 1995)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 345 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0671876708
- ISBN-13 : 978-0671876708
- Dimensions : 10.8 x 1.91 x 17.15 cm
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There are three stories in the seventh book of the Man-Kzin series. They are Hal Colebatch’s “The Colonel’s Tiger,” “A Darker Geometry,” by Mark O. Martin and Gregory Benford, and Paul Chafe’s “Prisoner of War”. In addition to writing some very thoughtful, well-written Man_Kzin stories, Colebatch has also written a biography about his father, the honorable Sir Hal Colebatch. I don’t recall having read any stories by by Mark O. Martin and Gregory Benford, though Mr .Benford has won the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. for Timescape . I don’t always go for Paul Chafe’s stories, though I quite enjoyed “Prisoner of War.”
“A Darker Geometry”
is the second story of Man-Kzin Wars VII and is set after the withdrawal from Sol space of the Third Kzin fleet and before the arrival of the Fourth. The main characters are the pilot (Bruno Takagama) and the captain (Carol Faulk) of an antimatter reaction drive warship (Sun-Tzu) bound for Wunderland with a single ship (the Doolittle) and thirty UN soldiers in cold sleep with a supply Tree-of -Life. Bruno was severely brain damaged as a child and has had a large part of his brain replaced cybernetically. This makes it easier for him to Link directly to computer systems than can most Linkers, and he is intended to Link with the computers of the single ship on arrival at Alpha Centauri, combining him and the ship into a super war drone. He was raised by the ARM with Buford Early as a father figure.
The story deals with Transcendence/dehumanization. Carol and the cold sleepers are to be transformed into Human Protectors by the Tree-of-Life. Bruno experiences a sense of apotheosis when Linked that grows each time he is connected to the sensors and computing power of their ship. Linking expands his consciousness to super human levels. Carol dreads transformation into a Protector because she sees Protectors as monsters. The Protectors are planned, by the way, to conveniently die of radiation poisoning after raising havoc with the Kzin. Leave it to the ARM. (For myself, if I were a Protector, I would give a high priority to finding a cure for the radiation sickness so I could go on Protecting.) She dreads the progressive changes in Bruno, who becomes less human and more machinelike each time he Links.
The quasi apotheosis of the Linker Bruno is reminiscent of the pseudo apotheosis of the Holothete Joline in Poul Anderson’s The Avatar. Joelle’s brain is connected to the sensors and computers of Daniel Brodersen’s ship, and Holothesis expands her consciousness in the same way. She is, unlike Bruno, nearly completely alienated from humanity, and grows more so each time she connects to the computer. Bruno, toward the end of his last link before the Kzin cripple their ship, perceives oneness with the ship, much like that of “The Pilot” in Haldeman‘s short story who tells an interviewer, I am the ship, you actual fool.” and Neal Asher‘s replaced human captain in Prador Moon. This former captain had been hooked up to the newly recommissioning ECS battleship Occam Razor for many years. He’d gone senile with the job, and was unsuited for the coming battles with the Prador. Unused to input from his own senses, he marvels at the sky, not recognizing the stars he has sailed most of his life. Joelle is so far gone that she thinks of her fellow crew as animals. She is disgusted by human sexuality and terrified of any hint of human intimacy. Holothesis becomes a ready substitute for her lost humanity. (This stands in stark contrast to the raw sexuality, sensuality and emotionalism of the Avatar among the humans.) In Geometry, the love (sexual and otherwise) between Bruno and Carol pulls Bruno back from brink of subsumation into the machine, and he returns to the realm of humanity after their ship is crippled by the Kzin attack. (The relationship between Bruno and Carol is presented more subtlety than that between Brodersen and Caitlin in Avatar, with its rooms full of animal smells.)
His abrupt removal from cyberspace sets the stage for interdiction by a faction of the Outsiders that likes organic based life forms and has established trade relations with the Puppeteers (the Dissonants). Unwittingly, the fight between the Sun-Tzu and the Kzin has outraged a faction of Outsiders (the Zealots) that views organic life as vermin. Humanity and Kzin are now not only vermin but vermin that must be exterminated. The Kzin captain, Bruno and a Puppeteer Guardian become integral in destroying an attacking Zealot ship. Bruno is really integral to the plan because his cybernetics allow the Dissonants to use his mind to upload a virus into the Zealot ship. After the Zealot ship is destroyed the cybernetics allow the Outsiders to download a copy of Bruno’s mind and return Bruno to Carol at the end of the story.
“Prisoner of War”
Having read X and XII before I read VIII, I can say that the nameless Hero of “Prisoner of War” emulates Peace Corben-- he steals a huge portion of the UNSN’s order of battle and contingency planning and causes a sea change in Humanitiy’s policies and underlying philosophy. In this story, it’s the humans who have screamed and leapt, splashing a lightly armed Kzinti scout that was running away. The lone survivor is brought, seemingly helpless, aboard a UNSN battleship for interrogation.
After reversing their positions, the Kzin tells the UNSN interrogator the reason Humanity has won its previous wars with the Kzinti is because it has been waging Total War against scream and leap opportunists that were seeking only limited territorial or material gains and that the next war will be different. The ARM had been backed into a very tight corner before going Total War-- it was the only way they could prevent the conquest of Earth. He goes further to point out that it is humanity, not the Kzin whose habit is to wage rapacious destructive wars. He cites examples, including the Yamamoto’s strategic bombing raid, with its human suffering out of any proportion to the military gain achieved. (To throw in my own personal rant, we make much of destroying two ((2)) cities with da-Kiloton yield atomic bombs. We destroyed thousands of cities in Japan, Germany, Russia, and the rest of Europe with conventional high explosives and incendiaries. Why is the destruction of the two worse that the destruction of the thousands.) Man and Kzin have the capability to kill on a planetary scale, and the Kzin are being backed into an extremely tight corner between their social pressures and Humanity‘s policies.
“The Colonel’s Tiger”
Imagine, if you will, a lone, disgraced Kzin scout traveling far beyond Kzinti territory in quest of glory, honor, and a return to fortune. Imagine him coming to nineteenth century British India and he and a British officer then doing what they do best to each other. Then imagine his remains being stored away in a museum as a curiosity for centuries until the ARM gets a hold of them and the oral history of the British officer who killed him. Now imagine how paranoid the ARM is about, well everything, and especially how they feel about the images sent back by the Angel’s Pencil of Kzin and weapons after the events of Niven’s “The Warriors.” (The evil Belters must have faked this.) A wonderful story, though a tad over written, but is there any way for an ARM to muddle through all of this except ponderously?
Man Kzin Wars Timeline - The Future Worlds of Larry Niven