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Book Review - The Human Edge

I've always enjoyed the science fiction writings of Gordon Dickson, and recently re-read an old copy of The Human Edge, a collection of his older short stories.I'm not usually big on short stories, but most of these are pretty good. The overall theme is about humans triumphing over the bad aliens in one form or another. Part of what I like about the theme is that he sees humans as one people, not Americans or Canadians or country of your choice. Maybe that's part of why I enjoyed Star Trek as well, the vision that someday we'll all be from Earth and move on to bigger challenges.

So, some teasers on the stories. The lead off story is about an alien culture that is trying to understand a myth; that over the course of history several times the human race has emerged and run amuck over alien species only to be nearly eradicated. The aliens don't understand how, they only know the myth is 'Danger - Human'. So they decide to kidnap (gotta have an alien abduction) one human to investigate. They bring him back, do the tests, still find nothing, so they lock him up with no hope of escape to see if they've missed something, or if being a prisoner will spark some some of change. The latter does of course, and ultimately explains they myth.

Another story has humans landing on a planet to investigate the people there, and they are all soon having night mares and very sleep deprived, to the point on insanity. One goes off in search of answers and finds that the aliens are linked to each other much like the Borg collective, and that somehow relates to the human problems. What does a human do when added to a collective?

Summarizing short stories without giving away the ending is hard! If you like sci-fi I think you'll find it interesting, don't let the cheesy cover art dissuade you. If you find it interesting, you might also try anything from the Dorsai series by Dickson, based around what happens when humans go forth from Earth and settle on various planets based on interest (science, religion, war, etc) and how that splintering causes a lot of interesting problems.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Grant Fritchey on 17 February 2009

Andy, you now make a total of two people I've met in my lifetime that read and enjoyed the Dorsai books. I loved Gordon Dickson and used to read his stuff all the time. Nice to hear about him again. May be time to track down Tactics of Mistake again.

Posted by Andy Warren on 17 February 2009

I've read Tactics of Mistake as well, kind of chess converted to the real world. Interesting the idea he poses that there's a difference between an expert and a scholar.

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