An enjoyable set of short stories from Glen Cook, one of my favorite childhood authors. I haven't read anything from Cook for a while, so it was good to see that he holds up. The stories have a variety of settings (modern day, near future, far future, far-far future, some far future planets that for various reasons have to use more primitive tech, and finally some just completely out there fantasy worlds). The common theme to all the stories is betrayal, or at least deeply divided loyalties.
As always, I just enjoy Cook's style and worldview. He's perfectly happy to throw the reader out there, in media res, and explain only ~40% of what is going on in a world. It's a strategy that works well in his sci-fi and fantasy, and lends stories more color than if he bothered to explain everything.
A few notes about some of the particular stories:
- _The Devils Tooth_ and _Winter's Dream_ - I've never actually read Vance, but as I understand it these are very Vancian. These were two of my favorites, as Cook steps out of his usual comfort zones and creates some really alien and age-worn settings.
- _In the Wind_ and _Dragons in the Sky_ - Fine stories, but they're set in Cook's main sci-fi universe, and it seems like they have major spoilers for that series. Not a concern for everyone, but it is for me since I was planning to read that series next.
- _The Recruiter_ - Also set in his sci-fi universe, though not spoilery. Cook's sci-fi universe has some similarities to Scalzi's _Old Man's War_, but it seems like a more realistic take on the idea. Like _Old Man's War_ it assumes that humans are still useful in far-future wars, and that Old Earth is the main population center for humanity. In this take though, rather than bothering to refurbish old entitled white guy's bodies, they just use the planet as a 20 billion person ghetto to draw desperate and impoverished recruits from.