Author: David Drake.
Title: Hammer's Slammers - At Any Price.
Publisher: Baen Books.
Price: $3.50 (US - OOP).
Overview and Impressions:
I'd read David Drake about fifteen or twenty years ago with his Ranks of Bronze science-fiction novel about Romans legionnaires in space. Since then, I hadn't touched anything by him. I finished up Hammer's Slammers: At Any Price tonight. It was a collection of short stories about the men of Colonel Hammer's mercenaries.
Hammer's Slammers are mechanized grav tank/APC units. Most of At Any Price takes place on the world of Oltenia. It's a planet inhabited by humans and Molts, a race of teleporting reptiles. The lizards are at war with the humans who settled the planet three centuries ago. Hammer's Slammers have been hired to help win the war against the Molts. An Oltenian general decides to make peace in order to end the bloodshed. He uses Hammer's men as a way to make the lizards want to end the conflict.
There are two other short stories about guerrilla pacification. I assume Drake based this on his Vietnam experiences. He briefly talks about that at the end of At Any Price. One story is set on a tropical world. Another is on an Arabic world with a former Hammer's Slammer veteran as a local.
Being military science-fiction, there's lots action and violence. Drake makes no bones about not making carnage and violence chic or bloodless. I like that in his writing. However, I find the reliance on mechanized forces a little disconcerting. I would have liked more infantry/or combined arms action. I guess I'm believer in having ground-pounders holding a piece of real-estate at the end of the day.
However, I enjoyed Hammer's Slammer: At Any Price. Recommended military sci-fi.