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Man-Kzin Wars IX by Larry Niven
Cover by Stephen Hickman
Published by Baen Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
The history of the Man-Kzin wars continues with the ninth volume in this series of stories set in Larry Niven's Known-Space universe. The first is the last story of a departed Grand Master. Poul Anderson's "Pele" tells the story of a voyage to a doomed sun, and the strange intersections of human and kzin honor.
In "His Sergeant's Honor" Hal Colebatch takes us to Wunderland shortly after the Liberation, after the human hyperspace fleet routed the kzinti, already weakened by a civil war among themselves in the wake of the assassination of Chuut-Riit. Humanity must now decide whether to follow a path of vengeance or a path of reconciliation, not only with the kzinti left behind on Wunderland, but among themselves. And the kzinti have a secret that may mean hope or destruction. Not all of Chuut-Riit's line was destroyed in the horror of "the children's hour."
Paul Chafe's "Windows of the World" is a murder mystery set in Tiamat, capital of the Serpent Swarm, the Centaurian asteroid belt. The occupation and the Liberation are still open sores on the minds and souls of the Centarian humans, which makes the suspicion that the killer may be a kzin all the more dangerous. But human secrets can create mayhem as well.
And the master himself weighs in with "Fly-By-Night," a story of the society created by the people of the Angel's Pencil, the first humans to encounter the kzinti. This story draws not only upon Niven's first story ever, "The Warriors," but upon Hal Colebatch's story "Telepath Dance" in the previous volume, Man-Kzin Wars VIII: Choosing Names. Generations have passed since those times, and the humans and kzinti of Sheathclaw are making cautious forrays into the outside universe. But after several rounds of war and defeat, the kzinti of the Patriarchy are becoming subtle as well as cruel.
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Review posted March 28, 2004
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