“First to Serve” by Algis Budrys
from The Metal Smile, ed. Damon Knight
Belmont Science Fiction, 1968
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, May 1954
Price I paid: none
“DO NOT FOLD, BEND, OR MUTILATE”
marked the beginning of our cybernetic society. How will it end?
The varied answers to that question have proved to be fertile ground for some of the greatest science fiction imaginations. But perhaps we shouldn’t look too closely into the future of cybernetics. It may be that the survival capacity of the thinking machine is greater than that of its maker…
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Bill, the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison
Avon Books, 1979
Originally published by Doubleday, 1965
Price I paid: 90¢
He was just plain Bill, enrolled in a correspondence course for a career as Technical Fertilizer Operator down on the farm, until a recruiting robot turned his head with visions of bright nebula lights, snappy red uniforms―and a cup of deep-space knockout drops…and Bill suddenly found himself aboard the Empire Space Ship Christine Keeler, fighting the Empire’s war against the lizard-like Chingers.
But an act of accidental heroism won him the Purple Dart (and an all-expenses-paid trip to fabulous Helior, the aluminum-plated Sin City of the Empire_―and that’s when Bill’s adventure’s really began…
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The Hidden War by Michael Armstrong
Price I paid: 90¢
Thanks to the wonder of the hide, no one starves or freezes or gets sick on the perfect worlds of the Solarian Alliance. Like a synthetic skin, the hide protects and heals, and can transform people into anything they want to be. Nothing threatens this wondrous utopia until an extraterrestrial message of unspeakable horror is received. An evil race terrorizes the galaxy, and it’s coming toward Earth….
Into this world the Solarian Alliance frees Krim, the last survivor of the Beat asteroid known as the Jack and a prisoner since he saw his world vanish into that strange other space known as Ur. Disgusted with this utopia, Krim enlists in the distant fight at the edge of the solar system, the battle no one on Earth may know about, lest it disrupt their perfect peace…the Hidden War.
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The Ayes of Texas by Daniel da Cruz
Del Rey/Ballantine Books, 1982
Price I paid: 90¢
It was 1994, but Gwillam Forte was an entrepreneur of the old school. Twenty-three disabled Veterans needed a reason to live, so he gave them a rusty hulk—the battleship U.S.S. Texas—and unlimited funds to make her beautiful and seaworthy in time for Independence Day, 2000.
But the world changed quickly and for the worse. By 1998, the Texas and her supermodern weapons were needed for duty far more important than guarding the National Monument in which she rode at anchor.
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Remember the Alamo! by Kevin Randle and Robert Cornett
Charter Books, 1986 (originally published 1980)
Price I paid: 75¢
In 1836, Mexican troops under Santa Anna defeated a small band of Texan defenders at the Alamo. The Americans, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, were slaughtered to a man in the final downfall.
Now a rich oil field has been discovered just south of the Mexican border. As things stand, it belongs to the Mexicans. But if the Alamo had never fallen…
Through a top-secret process, 33 combat-hardened Vietnam vets are headed into the past. Their mission: To secure the richest oil land in history as American territory. They’re going back to 1836—but this time with submachine guns and grenades, tear gas and Uzis.
This time America is going to win.
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Peace Company by Roland Green
Ace Science Fiction, 1985
Price I paid: 25¢
If you seek peace—prepare for war
A rule as true in the 24th century as it is today. When 75 planets—from savage tribes to outlaw tyrannies to star-spanning mega-powers—totter on the brink of the hell that began the day Earth destroyed itself. When only one military outfit has the experience, strength, and firepower to deliver rapid deployment justice to the galaxy—the Planetary Union Peace Force.
This is the frontline.
Peace Company Group 14, New Frontier Seventh Peace Brigade. The 900 shock troops of the battle-cruiser Ark Royal. Knife-honed vets, men and women, commander to crew. Elite commandos ready to wage and win war, anytime, anywhere. Under any conditions. On any world.
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The Ion War by Colin Kapp
Ace Books, 1978
Price I paid: 90¢
When Major Dam Stormdragon was chosen to serve as part of Castalia’s military tithe to the Mother World he had no choice but do go—much as he loathed Terra and everything she stood for. He knew that given the combination of arrogance and paranoia that Terrans displayed towards all Colonials he was at best in for a miserable year—at that at worst he would find himself taking part in a military action against his fellow Colonials. He also knew that the increasing ferocity with which the Terrans responded to the slightest balking of the Imperial Will meant that one day soon the Hub Worlds would have to fight, or that Terra’s madness would destroy them all.
What Stormdragon could not know was that the Mother World was already set on obliterating her children, and that he himself would be Terra’s secret weapon in the most dreadful conflict in the History of Man.
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