cover image Weird World War IV

Weird World War IV

Edited by Sean Patrick Hazlett. Baen, $16 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-982125-96-7

Editor Hazlett follows Weird World War III by looking even further into the future at the war after the next big one. As such, these 21 skirmishes are not straight extrapolations of present-day politics but veer into alternate timelines in which dinosaurs invade to escape their own troubles (“Reflections in Lizard-Time” by Brian Trent) or artificial intelligences reshape humans into new species suitable for the poisoned Earth (“Mea Kaua” by Stephen Lawson). Cosmic horrors are summoned by combatants in “Deep Trouble” by Jonathan Mayberry and beaten back by “elder beasts” from African myths in “The Door of Return” by Maurice Broaddus and Rodney Carlstrom. Not every story quite fits the theme of a war to follow the next war, but all feature postapocalyptic settings where conflict brews. The best, like “Wave Forms” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman and John Langan’s Arthurian “Future and Once,” keep the battle to come a tantalizing tease. The broad ideological range here—“The Eureka Alternative” by Brad Torgersen blames the apocalypse on wokeness, while Weston Ochse’s “A Day in the Life of a Suicide Geomancer” critiques the MAGA crowd—means not every story will be for every military SF reader, but the sheer weirdness of many of these pieces is a testament to the genre’s creativity and verve. (Mar.)