I can remember coming across this anthology in the library when it first came out. I had completely forgotten that I had actually checked it out and read it until a few scenes in the stories started resonating with me, and I started remembering having read them before. I’m pretty sure I never got around to reading the later ones though.

Overall, it’s a good anthology, and a great idea for one, though unlike many such, many of the stories here had been published before. There’s also a few non-fiction essays, which are naturally quite dated now. Actually, the stories are too; you can see a lot of their time in them. Overall, it’s a pretty good collection; here’s some particular notes:

“Reflex” – Basically an outtake from The Mote in God’s Eye, it’s just as well that it was left out of the novel, as it wouldn’t add anything to it. As a separate short story, it’s pretty good, though not anything special. Having some idea of the peculiarities of Langston Field ahead of time might help, as it’s not really described here, though the effects are.

“Spanish Man’s Grave” – A 1947 western seems an odd choice for a military SF collection, though Pournelle’s reasons are good, and it’s probably the best-written story in the collection.

“Marius” – This was the story that confirmed I’d read the anthology before, as the description of ruined Strasbourg (and Europe) rang a bell. This time, I had a lot more knowledge of reference of the title. A 1957 story, it has a survivable nuclear war in its past, and is really about pragmatism vs idealism. It’s the only story Pournelle saw fit to do an afterword to, and while what he has to say is true enough, I think he misses some of Anderson’s point.

“Ender’s Game” – Unlike most of the other stories, all my memories of reading this are gone, and I just remember reading the full novel a few years later. I actually like this 1977 short story better, as it’s much better focused, and I don’t care for a lot of the early added material in the novel (which I’ve always regarded as quite good, but not up to the accolades a lot of people have given it).

“A Death in Realtime” – One of the few new stories here, it definitely is a product of it’s time and 1981 computer technology. However, McEnroe has a real feel for the early computer/arcade generation that really helps give the story some extra punch. At least if you’re of an age to remember those times.

“Overdose” – Written in 1975. Vietnam merged with extradimensional invasion. For me, probably one of the poorest stories here, not counting the poems or non-fiction.

“Diasporah: A Prologue” – Nuclear war from the defender’s point of view. Israel is attacked by the surrounding Arab nations in a scenario that feels like it hasn’t aged much in the last 35 years. The “prologue” in the title isn’t explained, but seems to be a reference to the author’s later novel Diasporah.

“His Truth Goes Marching On” – I’m not sure of the propriety of an editor picking one of his own stories for inclusion in an anthology (especially after leading with he co-authored), but it’s good enough that I’m not going to actually complain. It’s the Spanish Civil War with the serial numbers filed off—but he didn’t actually do a lot of filing, since the background just transplants the entire general situation to another planet, complete with Spanish names. Still, well done, and another reprint of a 1975 story.

“The Defenders” – This feels like a Twilight Zone episode, and with an original publication in 1953, it’s about the right time for it.

“Unlimited Warfare” – Another 1975 story, this one featuring the law of unintended consequences as Britain and France have another spat.

“The Battle” – A 1954 story featuring a look at what happens when technology fights the biblical Last Battle.

“Ranks of Bronze” – A 1975 David Drake story (later turned into a novel I haven’t read) with a Roman legion fighting battles for aliens. No, really, it’s good. I often don’t care for Drake, but I might look up the full novel of this.

“I am Nothing” – A 1952 Eric Frank Russell story that shows its age. It’s not poor, but does have a terminal case of black-and-white psychology in order to make a point.

“Call Him Lord” – 1966 Gordon R. Dickson; Earth is a museum piece (or at least it looks that way to the rest of the galaxy), but considers itself to have a separate mission. I’d kind of like to see some more of the world.

“Quiet Village” – 1970, a bit late to be presenting the aftermath of a survivable (presumably) nuclear war, but it works well off the traditional Seven Samurai setup.

Whew, that was a longer list than I expected! There’s a lot of stories in here, and most of them are good, but not great. There are some real winners in here, though I have to imagine that someone who’d been keeping up with short SF in 1981 might feel a bit cheated by the fact that there’s only about three new things in here. As it is now, I don’t know how many of these have appeared elsewhere, but the age of many of the stories bears keeping in mind.