27 review for Code Duello/Computer War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tentatively, Convenience

    review of Mack Reynolds's Computer War / Code Duello by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - May 31, 2018 Mack Reynolds is now solidly in my pantheon of favorite SF writers. This is an Ace Double. Computer War, the set-up: ""The Presidor is already cognizant of the situation. Our planet is divided into two major land areas and two major powers, Alphaland and Betastan, and twenty-three minor powers. Geographically, we almost duplicate each other, and, as all know, down through history this has led to nei review of Mack Reynolds's Computer War / Code Duello by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - May 31, 2018 Mack Reynolds is now solidly in my pantheon of favorite SF writers. This is an Ace Double. Computer War, the set-up: ""The Presidor is already cognizant of the situation. Our planet is divided into two major land areas and two major powers, Alphaland and Betastan, and twenty-three minor powers. Geographically, we almost duplicate each other, and, as all know, down through history this has led to neither one being able to dominate the smaller nations. There has been too delicate a balance. If Alphaland were to bring its rival to its knees, then the world government which Your Leadership foresees would become an immediate reality. It is doubtful that even a confederation of the minor powers could stand before our glorious marhc."" - p 6 "Ross growled at the door which opened automatically before him. It had been a long-time irritation. The damned mechanism didn't read his mind, it read his physical presence. Suppose his desire was to come up to the door and press his ear against it, so as to eavesdrop on someone within. The damned door wouldn't let him! It opened, willy-nilly, upon his coming in proximity." - p 10 That's thinking it thru. A lesser writer might imagine the door opening automatically as response to proximity but might not imagine the circumstances under wch that wdn't be desirable. Mark Twain is quoted as speaking against war. It's interesting isn't it? So many intelligent, creative people have been against war for so long &, yet, somehow, war continues to be w/ us every day. That makes a pretty good case that the intelligent, creative people aren't running things: "["]Next, the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of these conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just["]" - p 18 The main character in Computer War is entrusted w/ cooking up the propaganda to get the populace to accept & support the war that Alphaland is plotting against Betastan & a member of his team schemes up putting religion to work: ""It's a natural. There's absolutely nothing like religion to get people steamed up to a boiling point. Remember the Hindus and Moslems, back on Earth? Supposedly, a Hindu wouldn't swat a mosquito since it would be breaking a taboo against taking life, but given religious troubles with the Moslems and they slaughtered and were slaughtered by the millions. Or take the centuries-long wars and massacres between the Christian sects; all in the name of the gentle Jesus, they butchered each other wholesale. Or take the Christian prosecution of the Jews, down through the millenia. No, religion is the perfect background for butchery."" - p 33 Given that I'm anti-war & have resisted & protested it for at least the last 46 yrs, Reynolds's Computer War pleases me as an exposé & analysis of how wars are created — but, alas, Reynolds is 'preaching to the converted' insofar as few or no religious people will read this novel, they're too brainwashed to even be open to such an experience. Heaven forbid (& I'm using that expression sardonically) that they encounter an opinion contrary to their indoctrination. Burn the library of Alexandria! "Bauserman broke in. "You might also continually hint that they are actually part of the Karlist conspiracy."" - p 34 In 2018, one doesn't hear about the 'threat of Communism' anymore b/c the Capitalists have supposedly proved Communism to be a failure — but in 1967, when this bk was published, the constant propaganda in the US against Communism was still going strong. Hence, for those of you who didn't catch it, Karlist = Karl Marxist = Communist. Remember when the United States went to war against Vietnam to 'stop the spread of Communism'? The propaganda seemed to be that if the, ahem, 'good guys' (the USA), didn't stop Vietnam from becoming Communist then the USA might just be next in the game of totalitarian dominoes. Think of how much misery & death & destruction that caused. Well, the US lost that war & Vietnam became Communist &, GEE!, the USA didn't fall. "The politics of Vietnam are defined by a single-party socialist republic framework, where the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam is the Party leader and head of the Politburo, holding the highest position in one-party system. The President of Vietnam is the head of state and the Prime Minister of Vietnam is the head of government, in a one-party system led by the Communist Party of Vietnam." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politic... "["]tell me what you think the basic teaching of the Karlists is?"" [..] "His voice, as though in spite of himself, was wild again. "They're anarchists. They want to tear down everything that their betters have built. They want to turn society on its head and let the yokes rules their superiors." "Altschuler said softly, for once without humor, "That, fella, is exactly what we don't want to do. You've been reading your own propaganda again."" - p 123 Reynolds, rightfully so, IMO, isn't naive about revolutions either: "Peter Riggin shook his head. "I doubt if you have ever read of a Yugoslavian named Djilas. However . . ." ""Yugoslavian?" ""A small country in Europe in the old days. During the Second World War, it went Communist. Djilas was one of its top revolutionists, the right-hand man of the dictator-to-be, Tito. Djilas spent years in the government prisons, later fought for more years in the mountains as a partisan. When the war was over and his people in power, he was aghast. His comrades were quickly enriching themselves in lucrative government jobs for which they were often unsuited. Tito himself lived like an Oriental potentate. When Djilas, still the idealist, refused to conduct himself similarly and attempted to expose this New Class that had arisen among the supposedly selfless leaders of the proletariat, he was imprisoned for his pains."" - p 55 Fascinating. I think I have a bio of Djilas around here somewhere in the recent arrivals piles. Anyway, I'm on Djilas's side. Ok, people go to great personal risk, they risk their lives, to improve the conditions of the masses, they deserve a reward for that. How about designation as a hero w/ a fat pension to accompany it? I'd support that. Of course, then there wd be people claiming to've fought against the nazis as partisans who actually hung back & let their comrades get killed. Gotta watch out for the poseurs. I can think of a few people of my own acquaintance who wd pull a fast one like that. ""To go on still further, we find the so-called communists of the Twentieth Century. Ri-snorting idealists when first they came to the helm, we were soon able to obseve that party membership and relationship to ranking members of the hierarchy counted most when it came to obtaining high office. Ability was not necessarily the thing. The son of Stalin, although known as a problem drinker, quickly became a general in the air force; the son-in-law of Khrushchev was soon top editor of Pravda."" - p 125 ""Admittedly, some men, of certain types, will struggle to the top given any society. However, many of our most capable are not of this nature. For instance, the early American electrical wizard, Steinmetz, was a cripple. Had he been born a slave in Roman society, he would have been knocked over the head at birth, his potentialities never realized. Some of our artists, poets and such, are not of the caliber to fight. It is no coincidence that the three great poets of the British romantic period, Byron, Shelley and Keats, were all protected from want throughout their lives. Byron was a lord, Shelley a baron, Keats from a well-to-do family. But suppose any of them had been born into a life of child labor in the mills of Manchester? Would any of them become poets? Their contemporaries, such as Leigh Hunt and Thomas Hood, born into poverty, were possibly their equals in talent, but had to spend their lives doing newspaper work, writing reviews, or humorous verse meant for the semi-literate."" - p 126 The above resonates deeply w/ me. It's hard for me to not hate people born into privilege who receive accolades not so much b/c they have talent but b/c that's confused w/ having money. Now I'm interested in Hunt & Hood so I just reserved from my local library a biography called The wit in the dungeon: the remakrable life of Leigh Hunt — poet, revolutionary, and the last of the romantics by Anthony Holden & another called "Thomas Hood" by Lloyd N. Jeffrey. This is how I learn. Alphaland tries to start the war against Betastan & their plan to bomb Betastan's cities into smithereens are thwarted when Betstan surrenders before they get a chance to go ahead: ""All the largest cities have surrendered?" McGivern said in shocked tones. "Why the computers said the war would be over in less than three months, but at this rate, they wan't last three weeks." ""At this rate, they won't last three days," Mark Fielder amended. "There's something awfully wrong, here. I don't like it."" - p 65 "Ross Wetsley said, shock in his voice, "You mean that each detachment of our own air marines is to be considered expendable? That if any action takes place in any of those cities, the place would be leveled, which would automatically eliminate our occupying force there as well?" "Number one didn't bother to answer. "Temple Bishop Stockwater intoned, "Such sons of the Motherland and of the United Temple will proudly offer their lives to the Crusade."" - p 66 Reynolds uses his highly entertaining (IMO) novels to interject bits of history that he presumably wants better known. Gotta luv 'im: ""Scorched earth policy," Peter Riggin muttered. "Number One turned on him. "What?" "The Temple Monk shrugged and patted his rounded tummy. "Back in the early days on Earth, it was occasionally utilized. The Russians, when invaded by Napoleon in command of the most powerful army the world had ever seen, simply continued to fade back before him as he advanced. They destroyed everything in his path, cities, towns, granaries, crops, orchards, all livestock they couldn't drive away." [..] "It was before the day of canned food, and his general staff had planned largely to live off the countryside. It is estimated that not one man out of twenty of the Grand Army got back to Europe proper."" - p 81 Ultimately, this is a fantasy about highly intelligent guerrilla warfare, the warfare that always counters the attacker in unexpected ways that the computers can't predict. This is a fantasy for people who'd like to see super-powers become more superlative & less powerful. Reynolds is excellent at critiqueing the cynicism of war-mongers. Is this part of why he was supposedly so popular in his day & seemingly so little known now? ********************************************** Flipping the bk over I come to Code Duello. I liked Computer War very much but Code Duello is the one that really did it for me. I was quickly reminded of the humor of Ron Goulart, another writer whose work I enjoy, but I actually prefer the stories of Reynolds's to Goulart's b/c they have more politcal savvy & historical depth. Given that Goulart's 1st novels were apparently published in 1970 (although his short stories had been published for 18 years before that), it might be more accurate to say that Goulart's sense of humor is like Reynolds's. After all, Reynolds was born 16 years earlier & his 1st published short story was in 1950. His 1st novel, The Case of the Little Green Men was published in 1951. He also wrote a book, under the pen name of Bob Belmont, called How to Retire Without Money (1958). I should try to find a copy of that one. ""Look," he said, "I assume you're not trying to sabotage Section G. You've been dedicated too long for that. But when I give you a job of recruiting new agents, I didn't expect you to wind up with a bevy of pickpockets, shovel throwers and . . . lucky coin flippers. All this is out of the question, understand? We'll go back to our old system."" - p 12 Our hero(es) are sent to a planet where there's constant dueling as a basic part of the culture: ""Ordinarily, the only citizens not eligible to be called out, under their Code Duello, are the First Signoe and his Council of Nine. However, no one is exempt during elections.["]" (p 18) The motley crew & their interactions exemplify Reynolds's humor. One of the characters is small enough to pass for a child. Reynolds takes advantage of this to create many-an-awkward-situation. "Helen and Dora Horsten were easy enough. She was to be his daughter. He was the noted algae specialist, making a tour of the member planets of United Planets, coordinating the most recent developments in the field. While on Firenze he would visit the larger universities. "Helen looked at him and snorted, "Daddy." "Jerry Rhodes said, "If you were only six inches taller, we could do you up like a mopsy and you could go as my mistress." "She glared at him. "If I was six inches taller, I'd clobber you. In fact, I'm thinking of doing it anyway."" - p 19 One twist of Reynolds's imagination is the idea of beings w/ advanced technologies being not necessarily smart. It kindof reminds me of the people who drive SUVs: "Zorro scowled at her. "You mean these Dawnworld planets I've heard rumors about support an intelligent alien life form?" ""Not exactly," Horsten said. You're wrong on two counts, or, at least, Helen is. One, we're not confronting them. We're desperately avoiding them. We're not ready even to attempt communication. They're so pathetically in advance of our technology that our scientists boggle. For instance, they have fusion reactors, in short, unlimited power. They also have matter converters. They can, literally, convert any form of matter inot any other form they wish." He dropped the bombshell. "However, the term intelligent-alien-life-form does not apply. Evidently they aren't intelligent."" - p 25 ' You've heard of the Karlists, but what about the..?: "The other said, "You don't know what an Engelist is? What kind of a world do you come from?" And then in confused contradiction of himself, "You live on some sort of Engelist government world?"" - p 37 Some people say Any excuse for a party while other say Any excuse for a duel: "["]However, forgive me, I would not suggest you offer the mancia a male citizen of Firenze. He would most certainly call you out." ""Mancia? Call me out?" Jerry said blankly. "Zorro growled, "Evidently, try to tip a man here and he wants to duel you."" - p 50 I tried to tip a cow once & she challenged me to a duel. I didn't expect her to be so good w/ fencing swords but I still came away w/ a choice cut. The cow's name was Helen. "Finally Helen snapped, "Have you ever, in your whole career, seen a person that you absolutely knew was an Engelist?" "The hesitation was there once more. Finally, "No."" - p 120 I expected such argumentation from a cow even less than excellent swordplay. ""Dr. Horsten, Signori," he said. There has been a change in the plans of His Zelenza. He has decided, after all, personally to attend the pseudo-election."" - p 125 "["]In England they had the Conservative Labor Party and in the States the Republican Democrats, though in both cases there was the optical illusion of two parties. In actuality, they stood for the same thing, the status quo, represented the same elements and couldn't be told apart.["]" - p 133 I cd go off on my usual schtick about the Republocrats & the Demicans but since I'm sure YOU read all my reviews as they come out there's no need to be redundant since I'm sure that YOU're eidetic n'at. Why it's not even necessary to direct you to: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... b/c I'm sure that YOU, you darling little mnemonist devil you, have memorized all the URLS of ALL my reviews. We shd get together for coffee some day (yr treat). ""But it's not a real election?" Jerry said. ""Of course it is a real election. Every five years we hold one. It's a national holiday. Very popular. Everyone eligible must vote. There are penalties if one doesn't. It's done very properly. Secret ballot, and all, We pretend we have no record of those who vote for Pogo or . . ." ""Pogo!" Helen blurted. "There was a mystified element on the face of the chief of state of Firenze. "Surprisingly enough, the name of this canditidate has come down through the centuries, evidently as a symbol of protest. Since our citizenry is compelled to vote, some resort to writing in the mysterious historical personage, rather than vote for the party candidate."" - pp 134-135 Given that the "Pogo" comic strip ran from 1948 to 1975 it's highly possible that people born in 1970 or later might not have a clue about this reference but back in the day when Pigasus & Pogo started popping out those litters it was splashed all over the front pages. The government of the planet Firenze reminds me of the USA post-9/11: ""Quite correct. The Second Signore is our Chief of Security; the Third Signore, Maggiore Verona's superior, heads of the Ministryof Anti-Subversion; the Fourth Signore is in charge of Counter-Espionage; the Fifth, the AFA, short for Anti-Firenze Activities; the Sixth Signore has control of Central Intelligence; the Seventh is Director of Bureau of Investigation; the Eight, Commissioner of the National Police; the Ninth Signore heads the Department of Internal War; and the Tenth Signore holds the portfolios of State, Interior, Justice, Revenue, Agriculture, Trade, Health and Education."" - p 136 I won't be impressed until they build a wall around their planet to keep illegal immigrants out. ""Freedom. First, it seems as though the Mexicans, way down in the capital, Mexico City, wanted to tax them as an other Mexicans. But that wasn't the worst abridgement of freedom. It seems as though Mexico had abolished slavery and the newly arrived immigrants weren't allowed the freedom to own slaves. Happily with the aid of 'volunteers' from America, such as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowier, they threw off the Mexican yoke and established a new country whose laws allowed slavery. They applied for entry into the United States and when it was granted submitted to paying the taxes to Washington which they had refused to Mexico City, half the distance away. So the freedom to own slaves was evidently the more germane freedom for which they fought."" - p 153 "Did you ever heard of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta, which was contenporary with Monaco, the United States and the rest? It was a soverign country with its own citizens, ambassadors, air force, license plates and so forth and it occupied the second floor of a villa in Rome, as its sole territory."" - p 171 See what I mean?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melbourne Bitter

    In my copy of this Ace Double the Code Duello was marred by typos and missing/incomplete sentences. The story did not make a whole lot of sense anyway. Computer War was a far better story. Mack Reynolds is always a fun read, however, so i went out and bought Cosmic Eye and Adventure Tales #7: Classic Tales from the Pulps In my copy of this Ace Double the Code Duello was marred by typos and missing/incomplete sentences. The story did not make a whole lot of sense anyway. Computer War was a far better story. Mack Reynolds is always a fun read, however, so i went out and bought Cosmic Eye and Adventure Tales #7: Classic Tales from the Pulps

  3. 5 out of 5


  4. 5 out of 5

    David Minor

  5. 4 out of 5


  6. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Wills

  7. 5 out of 5


  8. 5 out of 5


  9. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Smith

  10. 4 out of 5


  11. 4 out of 5


  12. 4 out of 5


  13. 5 out of 5

    David Horton

  14. 5 out of 5

    Uxp Twist

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jared Evanoski

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Howard

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mike Parks

  18. 5 out of 5

    Don Lucid

  19. 4 out of 5

    A Jaylis

  20. 4 out of 5


  21. 4 out of 5

    Percy Bell

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Moore

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chris Brown

  24. 5 out of 5


  25. 5 out of 5


  26. 4 out of 5

    Michael Williams

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tom Hicks

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