Authors: Poul Anderson, Hal Colebatch, Paul Chafe, Larry Niven
Original language: English
The ninth shared-world anthology laid in Niven’s Known Space universe during the wars against those fighting felinoids, the alien Kzin, offers four notably readable long stories. In the late Poul Anderson’s “Pele,” a human couple on a research expedition rescue a Kzin with more courage than sense. Hal Colebatch’s “His Sergeant’s Honor,” probably the book’s strongest entry, features a Kzin who backs up his race’s fanatical concept of honor with keen tactical sense. In Paul Chafe’s “Windows of the World,” a member of the UN police, ARM captain Joel K. Allson, and Allson’s Kzin partner confront a mysterious murder aboard an orbital habitat, along with several conspiracies and a beautiful suspect. Niven’s own “Fly-By-Night” features Beowulf Shaeffer rescuing the title character from another Kzin with vaulting ambitions and a keen eye for legal loopholes. For action and military SF fans, these four tales intelligently develop the Kzin, who still have all the ferocity of their carnivorous, predatory ancestors but have assumed more complexity as they carry their civilization into space. At a time when mindless brutality may strike a somewhat negative note with many readers, more sophisticated Kzin will add to the audience for these well-wrought aliens and their human friends and foes. Stephen Hickman’s menacing, prosthetically enhanced catlike hero from “His Sergeant’s Honor” almost jumps off the jacket.