Monday, January 4, 2016

Pawn's Gambit: And Other Stratagems

Pawn's Gambit: And Other Stratagems by Timothy Zahn
Open Road Integrated Media: 1/5/16
eBook review copy, 342 pages
trade paperback ISBN-13: 9781504016223

Pawn's Gambit: And Other Stratagems by Timothy Zahn is a very highly recommended collection of 15 short stories that were previously published in magazines from earlier in Zahn's career. 

Here they are gathered together for the first time in book form.  The opportunity to read this collection was a treat for me. I enjoyed every single story. Admittedly I loved some more than others, as is the case with almost any collection, but there really wasn't a dude in this collection. These are hard science fiction stories with a few fantasy offerings. Every story was an excellent choice for the collection.


The Price of Survival:  The alien ship Dawnsent must scoop up fuel from suns to reach their final new home, but this action will doom life in the solar systems they go through. 1981

The Giftie Gie Us: After the Last War, a Soviet Nuke Bacteriological Barrage, the post-apocalyptic survivors include a disfigured man who offers help to a blind woman. 1981

The Final Report on the Lifeline Experiment: The Lifeline Experiment will end the abortion debate when a man telepathically attempts to answer the question, "When does a fetus become human?" 1983

Cascade Point: A cargo ships captain accepts paying passengers. Is it just a coincidence that the voyage developed problems when a psychiatrist and his patient are aboard? Hugo Award–winning novella; 1983

Music Hath Charms: The discovery of an old alien instrument, the Demonflute, may cause a resurgence in the much-loved-by-teens Thwokerjag music movement. 1985

The President’s Doll: The president's voodoo acupuncture doll has been stolen. 1987

Clean Slate: A wizard sets out to fulfill his oath by opening a mountain pass for an unappreciative town. 1989

Hitmen - See Murderers: The new phone books are out, but one of them isn't your usual phone book. 1991

Protocol: It's market day, but they must watch out for Stryders and follow the protocol.  2002

Old-Boy Network: The extremely wealthy use people as telepathic, personal terminals to insure privacy. 2002

Proof: Oregon's Hillcrest prison utilizes the CURL system (Cognitive Universal Reality Linkage) to control the prisoners, but Angel thinks she knows how to escape. 2004

The Ring: A man comes into possession of The Ring of the Nibelungs, which carries the power to create wealth. 2007

Trollbridge: A N.J. toll collector is a troll, but he may need to look for a new job. 2009

Chem Lab 301: A T.A. has 20 students and Rosie the lab in his chem lab. 2014

Pawn’s Gambit: An addendum to the Alien Research Bureau's 30th Annual Report brings humans to the attention of the director and the decision to test them is approved. 1982

I really appreciated all the stories included in this collection but perhaps liked The President's Doll the least. Some of the stories are humorous, or include humor, while others are thoughtful and point out larger implications to a situation. It has been noted that the protagonists in these stories are mainly men and some of them feel dated. As I was reading I was enjoying the stories, not looking for pc things to object to, and it didn't even occur to me to complain about the protagonists being mostly male. I didn't find the stories dated, per se; many were written in the 80's so sure, some things might feel dated to a much younger reader. For me this is a great collection and most science fiction fans are going to appreciate the stories collected here.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Open Road Integrated Media via Netgalley for review purposes.

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