Tactics of Mistake – Gordon R. Dickson

tctcsfmstb1981Trouble not the scholar among his books, for if he also has a pulse rifle and access to jump troopers, Mark V underwater bulldozer tanks, favorable local terrain, and an incompetent commander, he can make things very hot for you indeed.

– Cletus Grahame, a new-bird Colonel with three months’ active duty under his belt–and a Medal of Honor–is testing out theories for the fourth volume of his series on tactical applications. He plans on writing twenty, and this book is about his arranging of the cosmos to provide both the material for the next sixteen and guarantee that they will be used and read–by creating a world full of people who can think the same thoughts as he can, fight the same way he fights, and plan the way he plans. A world of warrior-scholars, invincible. Yep, quite an ambition. No, no one else takes him seriously….until he starts winning.

– Cletus’ titular tactics are a way of applying tactical logic to a broader strategic goal. It’s pulled from the Scaramouche game-breaking fencing strategy–engage your enemy in a series of conflicts, not with the aim of scoring a kill on any of these, but simply to focus his mind on those engagements while simultaneously drawing him further and further out of his defenses–until you have prepared the strike.

Yeah, it takes a damn’ good fencer and a damn good general. You have one guess as to what Cletus is.

– The overwhelming question I am left with is: why? Why Cletus? Why Dow deCastries? What the heck is the Alliance or the Coalition? Or Earth? Why are the Neumann colonists attacking, anyway, that the Exotics need to hire mercenaries? I don’t think I’m being unfair to point out that the worldbuilding isn’t all that great. I got a better idea of the politics and history of the world from Kristine Smith’s Code of Conduct–which is a book with a similar amount of political and diplomatic personnel focus. So that’s a small mark against it. Mind you, most people aren’t reading the book for details on imaginary history or clever linguistics. They’re in it for the Mil-SF action, and this is one of the classics for a reason.

– I kinda want to read the crossover fanfic, terrible as it inevitably will be, of Cletus Grahame and Lelouch vi Britannia playing chess together. Or perhaps rock-paper-scissors (jumptrooper-mecha-dropship?)

– Oh, I wonder what havoc Miles Vorkosigan could wreak if he went up against Cletus. Or worse…if they joined forces….

– Cletus spends considerable time of this book passed out.

– Cletus is kind of a smug bastard, isn’t he?

– I may have mentioned this in the Necromancer review, but Gordon R. Dickson is one of my own personal Big Three SF authors. I read his stuff extensively and absorbed a lot of his characteristic tropes. The loner hero–who is not alone because of some personality quirk, but because he holds an identity or point of view entirely separate from the rest of humanity. The Leader who can impose his will on others because he combines the intelligence and erudition of a scholar, a warrior’s martial prowess, a poet’s eye, and a psychologist’s ability to understand and exploit of human nature. The Danger: Human attitude–that there is nothing in the cosmos so great as a human, and no force on Earth or among the stars that can can stop a Man who has accepted its challenge.

Rated: fal Morgan, fal Morgan, my home….

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s