Today I am taking a break from writing about my life in the theater to write about my brother Andrew's life in the writing world. Recently his first book, War Stories, was published. I have been reading through these short stories over the summer. I am a pretty fast reader, but each of these stories required some digestion, and so I finished the last story "War 3.01" today. Although I am fulfilling my sisterly duties by spreading the word about Andy's book, I also was very fascinated and moved by many of the stories here.
I have to start by saying I am a recent fan of short stories. They draw you in and get you invested and excited but never bored, and they're the perfect length to read in one shot and then put the book down for a bit (which is good for me when I'm backstage or reading on breaks, etc). War Stories did not fail to uphold this expectation, which is probably the smallest bit of praise I can give.
The book is divided into several sections: Wartime Systems, Combat, Armored Force, and Aftermath. Each one includes a few short stories from various points in time, ranging from very near future to deep science fiction. The multi-faceted worlds created in the book alone are enough to read it and be satisfied. I have favorite stories from each section, and I can say I was entertained and drawn in to each story as a military science fiction piece, but the really remarkable thing about War Stories as a whole is that it focuses on the human condition during and after war. I don't think I have ever read a story involving combat and been so thoroughly immersed in the psychology that emerges from those actions and events. Whether it be relatives or friends or lovers of the combatants, a bystander, a tech, or the soldiers themselves, War Stories forces the reader to consider the problems that war creates that we often ignore in today's society.
I found Aftermath to be the most important section of this book for that reason: seeing the trauma that soldiers and civilians alike endure because of war, our society today too often turns a blind eye to our veterans and other victims of war. People don't know what happened, they don't want to know what happened, they couldn't possibly understand, and they give up. Life is easier without thinking about someone else's problems. War Stories takes the reader's enjoyment of the genre and action and walks the line very carefully to draw the reader's mind into these issues.
Through storytelling, we learn. This is one of the oldest and most respected traditions in human history. By looking into stories of the future, we can see our own reflections and the lessons we have yet to learn. Pick up a copy of War Stories today and let yourself learn about each character. Become their friends, their lovers. You won't regret it; here we have the seeds of change starting to grow in our war-obsessed world.