Gordon Dickson is one of the few authors to ever make enough money writing science fiction that he didn’t have to do anything else to supplement his income. Over the years he proved himself to be immensely versatile. He wrote military science fiction, exploration stories, first contact stories, stories about religious fanatics, about libraries, about dragons, about teddy bears, about war and peace and life and death. He wrote serious, hard fiction. He wrote light and humorous comedic fiction. He wrote epic fantasy and heroic fantasy. Among all his books some are obviously better than others. Dickson knew a lot about telling stories. He knew how to make characters flawed and conflicted but still likable and competent.
His book Soldier Ask Not is one of the most powerful stories on the effects of war that I’ve read. The Forever Man is an intense story about first contact with aliens and the confusion that comes when two groups of people have no means with which to communicate.
Naked to the Stars is mostly forgettable. It’s a good book because Gordon Dickson almost always wrote good books but it will not change your life. It is the story of a young soldier who is wounded in battle, loses his memory and is forced to leave the military. He struggles with his feelings of inadequacy and a growing sense that the Human habit of conquering every planet by force is not as justified, as he had formerly believed.
The story is meaningful, the ending exciting, but when it’s over it’s over. It doesn’t live on like some stories do.