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Title: Pawn’s Gambit: And Other Stratagems
Author: Timothy Zahn
Rating: 4 of 5 Battle Axes
A collection of short stories that Zahn has published in magazines. The first half of the book was stories that I’d read in other paperback collections of Zahn’s collected short stories and the last half of the book, with the exception of the titular story, Pawn’s Gambit, were all new.
I was expecting all new stories, so to have the first half be ones that I’d read before, or multiple times [as I’ve bought almost all of Zahn’s old books in paperback] was a bit of a letdown.
Even with that, those stories were still excellent.
Then came the new stories and it was evident that Zahn has NOT lost his touch for encapsulating an idea and creating a story around it. His latest Cobra books have been rather a disappointment to be honest and I’ve been wondering if Zahn’s time as an author was starting to get near the end. These new stories show that he is on top of the game as never before.
Which leads me to wonder, who has changed more, me, or Zahn? I read Cobra back in middle school and it has stayed on my “I love this book!” shelf ever since. Maybe the latest books in that series are showing me how “I” have changed as a reader and not so much that Zahn has changed as an author.
All of that is just to say that this short story collection is good! It would be a great way to introduce someone to Zahn without overwhelming them with a series. For those of us in the old guard, who have devoured all the older books by Zahn, this is still worth it for the new stories.
One of the main reasons I took a star off was because several of the stories have ending commentary from Zahn, when they were part of another collection. Those commentaries show their age and in some cases, show they are part of another collection. Very lazy on the publisher’s part. Cut or update. It was just jarring the way they cut n pasted.