Reviews of Star Soldiers (2001)
Review by johnafair (2005-09-14)
This is an omnibus edition of two of Ms. Nortorn's science fiction novels. Both date from the mid fifties and do suffer a bit from technological backwardness though Ms Norton was never really concerned by technology per se.
In the first of these books we follow the first mission of a young man as he travels out into space in the only fashion Earthmen are allowed to go - as mercenaries! Assigned to a force that fought with low tech sword and shield, he and his companions should have faced those using the same types of weapons but instead, they're facing technical weapons.
In the second novel, Star Patrol (or The Lost Patrol) a lost patrol ship of the galactic patrol makes a violent and final planetfall. Patrolman Katr and his team find their skills in demand in finding their way round but all the humans find that this world resonates deep down in their bones. By the time the Big Resolution is laid out in the open, you probably won't be too surprised (unless, like me, you're reading this for the first time as a teen).
Review by clong (2005-03-31)
These two stories are set in Norton's Central Control universe; Star Guard near the beginning of human involvement in galactic civilization, and Star Rangers some three thousand years later as this civilization endures its final breakup. They are reasonably interesting, but definitely show their age (originally published in 1955 and 1953. respectively).
Star Guard is a fairly straightforward tale of a group of human mercenaries set up to fail on an alien world, and their trek across hostile territory to ultimate safety. The aliens are superficial and simplistic. Star Rangers is a bit better conceived tale of a group of intergalactic police shipwrecked on a mysterious, but hospitable planet (with an ultimately rather predictable conclusion).
Reading them reminded me once again of the profound leap forward for the sci-fi genre that Asimov's Foundation Series represented. Still, the price was right (available as a free e-book through www.baen.com/library )!