Book: The Chosen by S. M. Stirling and David Drake

Entertaining sixth book in a military science-fiction series

July 17, 2011

S. M. Stirling and David Drake

The Chosen

Baen, 1996

ISBN: 0-671-87724-0

472 pages

Out of print; inexpensive used copies seem to be readily available

The Chosen is the sixth book in the military science-fiction series “The General” by S. M. Stirling and David Drake. (A review of the series through its first five books is here.) In the universe of the series, humans’ space-faring empire had fallen to barbarism and the planet Bellevue regained about nineteenth-century technology. In the first five books, Raj Whitehall, with the assistance of a still-functioning artificially-intelligent computer, reunites Bellevue and sets its civilization on a path back to the stars. Much of that story parallels the history of the great Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) general Belisarius.

In this book, Bellevue’s technology has improved considerably because planets are being added back to the human empire after they have been guided back to technology and civilization by copies of Raj and Center (the computer) uploaded to new computers and sent through interstellar space.

This book takes place on the planet Visager and the story is a second world war analog. Among the civilizations on Visager, Center calculates that the one that calls itself the Chosen (the German analog society) is likely to take over before long. That wouldn’t do the cause of civilization any good at all.

Raj and Center choose to make themselves known to a pair of step-brothers: John Hosten and Jeffrey Farr. John’s father is of the Chosen but because of a presumed genetic imperfection, he wouldn’t be allowed to have children there. HIs mother is from Santander (the Anglo-Saxon analog) and she is moving back there and will marry Maurice Farr, a naval man.

Since the story is a second world war analog, we know how it goes: the Chosen walk all over the Empire (Italian analog), have a little more trouble with the Union (French analog) and ignore the Sierra (Swiss-Spanish analog). And then it’s up to the Santanders to stop them.

There’s little surprising in the plot, but there are some memorable characters and S. M. Stirling and David Drake can be relied on to tell a story well. Fans of the series can expect to enjoy the book.