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The Hub Dangerous Territory cover The Hub: Dangerous Territory by James M. Schmitz

Edited by Eric Flint

Published by Baen Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The fourth volume of the reissue of the stories of James M. Schmitz concludes the saga of the Federation of the Hub. But before we say good-bye to "the Hub's ten thousand stars" (as the filk song goes), we have a collection of other stories set in that fascinating universe.

Unlike the case in the earlier three volumes, there are no recurring characters like Telzey Amberdon or Trigger Argee to tie them together. But that does not mean that the stories are completely unrelated. Rather, there tend to be common themes, particularly that of ecology and the importance of understanding the life of an alien world on its own terms rather than trying to impose one's own understanding on it.

In "Grandpa," the despised native youth recognizes signs the educated Terran scientists ignore, signs that mean the difference between life and death when the living raft upon which they travel begins to display strange behaviors. In "Balanced Ecology," outworld greed comes up against humans who have teamed up with the native life to make a new and greater whole.

Aliens and their technology play a greater role in some of these stories -- like "Attitudes," in which contact between humans and their alien neighbors have gone terribly wrong. Or "A Nice Day for Screaming," in which humans get an uncomfortable discovery about how small their works are, and what sorts of alien societies may be right next door, never noticing them.

And the final piece in this collection is The Demon Breed, a short novel in its own right. The themes of aliens and of ecology come together to tell a fascinating story of a would-be alien conquest, and one woman's battle of wits to prevent it.

The volume is concluded with Eric Flint's comments, as well as a chart of the recurring characters in various volumes of the stories of the Federation of the Hub.

Table of Contents

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Review posted April 4, 2002

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