cover image The Forge

The Forge

David Drake. Baen Books, $5.99 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-671-72037-7

Military officer Raj Whitehall is roaming through catacombs of the planet Bellevue when he discovers the computer Battle Central, a relic from the Golden Age before the planet's fall a thousand years earlierp. 171 . Central decides Raj is the one to carry out a mission, and by showing him what will happen to the planet without intervention, Central convinces Raj to save the stet caps/pk Civil Government from corruption and bandits. With the computer's guidance, Raj proposes a battle plan and soon sets out to conquer the enemies who would destroy Bellevue, while others plot against him from within. Central gives Raj advice from time to time by demonstrating for him in his mind's eye what could happen if Raj makes the wrong strategic decision. The computer's intervention, however, confuses the story line, especially since Central gives alternate scenarios, one after the other. This novel, first in a series, may appeal to military science fiction buffs who enjoy puzzling out complicated battle scenes. Drake is the author of Northworld ; Stirling wrote Under the Yoke. (Feb.)