Do You Dorsai?

IMG_0440 (1)

Once long ago, science fiction fans turned almost exclusively to novels to get their fix.

How long ago? I’m talking about the 1970s to 1990s–what your dad would call “the good old days.” Sure, there were good SF films and television back then. I will grant that even certain comic books were crafting some well-done stories. However, for every film like Star Wars, there were a dozen like Star Crash, and the same can be said for TV and comics. So, when fans gathered at SF conventions back in the good old days, they tended to talk books. And number one in military SF books were the Dorsi novels.

Gordon R. Dickion was a World War II veteran, so it’s safe to say he knew something about the military. He referred to his most prestigious series as “The Child Cycle,” but his fans often just referenced the most notable subjects of the books- the planet and people called Dorsai.

Of all the worlds spinning in the 24th century, Dorsai was unique. That planet produced for export the greatest mercenary soldiers in the galaxy. In fact, their entire economy was dependent on selling the martial skills of its sons and daughters to fight in other people’s wars. This opened up myriad story possibilities, and Dixion took full advantage of that fact. But this was not a mean series of books about brutes killing across the cosmos.

The Dorsai’s success was not based on might alone. Because Dickion focused on war as a thinking person’s dilemma.

Question: What do you do when an overwhelming force takes over your town? Answer: Find an excuse to get all the young and healthy out of town while leaving the aged and infirmed behind to poison the air, and once everybody is dead and the air is clear the war is won.

Yes, the Dorsai were that ruthless, and in a society where everybody is a soldier casualties among the aged and infirmed may be as acceptable as any other (not that I view that as a good thing personally). I do, however, find the Dorsai’s approach thought-provoking. And isn’t that what good science fiction does?

A good SF story, like any other kind of literature, provokes thought. It challenges us to look at problems in new ways to develop unique solutions. I appreciate what Gordon R. Dickon did for military SF and recommend his works to anybody who would bost an understanding of the genre. Besides, not everything in SF movies, TV or comics today is a gem. So why not take the time to crack open a good old book or two?

 

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Do You Dorsai?”

  1. Gordon R Dickson was one of my favorite authors and I’m fairly certain I’ve got everything he’s written that that series and a couple of other series. His passing left a void in my library, as several of his stories were left incomplete.

    Anyway, the Dorsai were fascinating as a people and I know that they influenced some of my thinking when writing my own scifi. I was also dismayed to find out that the name Dorsai wasn’t something unique when I thought I had come up with it on my own!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s