Saturday, April 27, 2013

eBook Review: Retief!

Keith Laumer, Retief!


Product Details from Baen's Books

Published ?
SKU: 0671318578
Ebook Price: $4.00
Not Currently Available (As of 26 April 2013.)

1. Short review:  (Amazon rating: 5 out of 5 stars -- I love it.)

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked:  I am a fan of Jaime Retief. I think the Retief series was the best that Keith Laumer wrote. 
Roller-coaster or walk-in-the-park? Roller coasters, but old wooden ones. None of the new loopty-loop let's-get-inverted roller coasters. Still, good rides. 

2.2. What I did not like: Eric Flint's afterward. Eric Flint is not a fan of Retief. Said he liked KL's "In the Queue" better. I read "In the Queue". Once. I have read Retief! many times. This is the first time I read it in ebook form.

2.3. Who I think is the audience: Science fiction fans. KL fans.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read?  Yes. No worries.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book? Yes.

2.6. The plot in a nutshell:
     There are many stories, so there are many plots. The headliner is "Diplomat at Arms", the first Retief story. Curiously, this is the story of the end of Retief's career with the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne, aka the CDT.
 2.7. Other:
     KL served in the US Air Force. After honorable service with the hardest-working branch of the military, for inexplicable reasons he chose to consort with liars and villains: he joined the Foreign Service.
     Jerry Pournelle wrote that, in training, KL had to lie on the ground while a tank trundled over him. Seems like a damned silly thing for an Air Force officer to do, but Jerry says that experience informed KL's Bolo series. Bolos were AI tanks with no human operators. Myself, I never cared much for the Bolos. How do you root for cold metal versus men? I dunno. For tank action I prefer David Drake's Hammer's Slammers. Men in iridium AFVs doing unto others hot, hard, and heavy 'cuz it's their job and they're good at it.
     Retief is my favorite of KL's series. Like Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat, each story -- "Diplomat at Arms" excepted --  is filled with droll humor.
     Eric Flint does not appreciate Retief and says so in the Afterward to this volume. Says he prefers KL's "In the Queue". I do not know Mr Flint, but based solely upon his stated preference here, I do not think he and I can be friends. If he would rather read "In the Queue" than "Diplomat at Arms", he is too twisted for my tastes. Why Baen's Books did not get someone who is a fan of Retief, anyone but Eric Flint, to write the Afterward beats me.
     Look. I love the Retief series. Retief! is the first volume of the collected stories among many. I read it many times and enjoyed each reading.

2.8. Links:  There are entries in Wikipedia for Keith Laumer and Jaime Retief, but they are so bad that I refuse to link to them. An example of how bad they are, the entry for Jaime Retief consistently misspells his name. If you can't be bothered to get the name right, don't bother making the entry at all.  

2.9. Buy the book:  Retief! (Oops! Not currently available from Baen's Books. Big mistake on their part. Huge. Click the link anyway. Maybe by the time you try it they will have had a lucid moment and made it available. I mean, it was available. How hard is it to link to an ebook file? A link that used to be there?)
     HEY! You guys at Baen's Books. When will you make this right?

     CAVEAT EMPTOR: The Amazon listing for Retief! is "The Yllian Way", a single Retief short story. It is not the full first collection. 03 November 2013.

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