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When a planetary government faces threats from guerillas, insurgents or terrorists, the men they hire are Hammer's Slammers - known throughout the galaxy for their cold, ruthless ferocity, their ability to defeat overwhelming forces, and their willingness to go up against impossible odds. Contents: Introduction by Jerry Pournelle STORY: But Loyal to His Own INTERLUDE: Supertan When a planetary government faces threats from guerillas, insurgents or terrorists, the men they hire are Hammer's Slammers - known throughout the galaxy for their cold, ruthless ferocity, their ability to defeat overwhelming forces, and their willingness to go up against impossible odds. Contents: Introduction by Jerry Pournelle STORY: But Loyal to His Own INTERLUDE: Supertanks STORY: The Butcher’s Bill INTERLUDE: The Church of the Lord’s Universe STORY: Under the Hammer INTERLUDE: Powerguns STORY: Cultural Conflict INTERLUDE: Backdrop to Chaos STORY: Caught in the Crossfire INTERLUDE: The Bonding Authority STORY: Hangman INTERLUDE: Table of Organization and Equipment, Hammer’s Regiment STORY: Standing Down


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When a planetary government faces threats from guerillas, insurgents or terrorists, the men they hire are Hammer's Slammers - known throughout the galaxy for their cold, ruthless ferocity, their ability to defeat overwhelming forces, and their willingness to go up against impossible odds. Contents: Introduction by Jerry Pournelle STORY: But Loyal to His Own INTERLUDE: Supertan When a planetary government faces threats from guerillas, insurgents or terrorists, the men they hire are Hammer's Slammers - known throughout the galaxy for their cold, ruthless ferocity, their ability to defeat overwhelming forces, and their willingness to go up against impossible odds. Contents: Introduction by Jerry Pournelle STORY: But Loyal to His Own INTERLUDE: Supertanks STORY: The Butcher’s Bill INTERLUDE: The Church of the Lord’s Universe STORY: Under the Hammer INTERLUDE: Powerguns STORY: Cultural Conflict INTERLUDE: Backdrop to Chaos STORY: Caught in the Crossfire INTERLUDE: The Bonding Authority STORY: Hangman INTERLUDE: Table of Organization and Equipment, Hammer’s Regiment STORY: Standing Down

30 review for Hammer's Slammers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    An uneven collection of barely-connected short stories/novellas with a shockingly bad opening and a sudden, strange ending--but some of the stuff in the middle is quite effective. Drake's prose varies wildly from awfully amateurish to quietly effective between the tales. Most of the characters are lifeless; motivations and setting are often left unexplained, or else alluded to in bafflingly circuitous language; there's a jarring tense shift in the first story; and Drake spends a lot of time and s An uneven collection of barely-connected short stories/novellas with a shockingly bad opening and a sudden, strange ending--but some of the stuff in the middle is quite effective. Drake's prose varies wildly from awfully amateurish to quietly effective between the tales. Most of the characters are lifeless; motivations and setting are often left unexplained, or else alluded to in bafflingly circuitous language; there's a jarring tense shift in the first story; and Drake spends a lot of time and space avoiding characters' names (it's always 'the tall man,' 'the tanker,' 'the colonel's aide,' 'the blonde,' 'the black,' 'the Oriental'--at several points he even switches between a character's first name and surname mid-paragraph). There's a lot of terminology that only makes sense after 200 pages of repetition, and the combating factions in the final showdown (in fact, in most of the many combat scenes) are never clearly defined. Despite this, there are some brilliant ideas here (aliens show up for a couple of stories, but are quickly forgotten about), and there are some surprisingly effective moments towards the end dealing with the moral ambiguity of violence. The prose improves drastically in the chapter titled "Hangman," which makes up a third of the book's length. One wonders if Drake could have improved the product overall by cutting the extraneous stuff (the first two stories, and the last), and focusing entirely on the Slammers' exploits on Kobold. A book that's as entertaining as often as it is tedious, lacking any memorable human characters, with no proper denouement, is difficult to recommend to anyone. Nevertheless, there's something about it that just works--barely, but enough--so I'll give it half marks.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    This is a seminal, maybe even archetypal, work of military science fiction, and as such it ranks up there with Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Haldeman's The Forever War, though it doesn't get into civics like the former, or social commentary like the latter. It's the story of a mercenary regiment organized by Alois Hammer, a former colonel in the military of the powerful colony Frisia, in the late 26th (I think) Century--a period of fragmenting societies and rebelling colonies, analogous to th This is a seminal, maybe even archetypal, work of military science fiction, and as such it ranks up there with Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Haldeman's The Forever War, though it doesn't get into civics like the former, or social commentary like the latter. It's the story of a mercenary regiment organized by Alois Hammer, a former colonel in the military of the powerful colony Frisia, in the late 26th (I think) Century--a period of fragmenting societies and rebelling colonies, analogous to the 15th and 16th Centuries in Italy when mercenaries were in high demand by all sorts of factions. The Slammers are different in that they are an armored regiment, which--by virtue of their iridium-armored hovertanks--is a much more expensive proposition than a leg infantry unit. In this collection of stories, they have to fight against rebel farmers, alien freedom fighters, and the perfidy and betrayal of their employers. The anthology spans a period of at least ten years, from the formation of the regiment to Hammer's marriage and retirement. Later volumes in the series, I assume, fill in the gaps in the chronology with additional tales of the regiment's adventures. There are several recurring characters in the collection beyond Col. Hammer himself: Joachim Steuben, his closest confidante and psychopathic assassin; Margritte, the war-widow turned mercenary communications officer; Danny Pritchard, an enlisted man who worked up through the ranks to become a trusted officer; etc. These people give connective tissue to an otherwise disconnected series of vignettes that feature a little background and lots of well-described combat--based on Drake's own experiences in Vietnam. The stories are interspersed with small explanatory essays that deliver background material regarding the universe in which they are set: the organization of the Slammers, the political history of Earth colonies that led to the current era; and so on. They are a tantalizing way of revealing details about the events that led to the formation and employment of the Slammers, without having to insert a stilted conversation between characters in the main narrative. I first read this book in 1985, and dusted it off and re-read it in 2013. It held up beautifully across the intervening decades.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    I read this many, many years ago -- the collection/fixup dates from 1979, the stories earlier, when Drake's Vietnam War experience was still fresh in his memory. Reading the story titles now, I recall liking the book (and other Slammers books) back in the day. These are solid books, but not for the faint of heart -- I can't say that I've ever felt the need to reread them. But for younger, diehard mil-SF fans, you may as well start at the beginning.... Ah, here's JD Nicolls' retro-review, just pub I read this many, many years ago -- the collection/fixup dates from 1979, the stories earlier, when Drake's Vietnam War experience was still fresh in his memory. Reading the story titles now, I recall liking the book (and other Slammers books) back in the day. These are solid books, but not for the faint of heart -- I can't say that I've ever felt the need to reread them. But for younger, diehard mil-SF fans, you may as well start at the beginning.... Ah, here's JD Nicolls' retro-review, just published at https://www.tor.com/2020/05/19/five-r... "David Drake’s mercenary troupe, Hammer’s Slammers (commanded by Friesland’s Colonel Alois Hammer), was formed to suppress an uprising on Friesland’s colony-world Melpomone. The foreign mercenaries were offered settlement on wealthy Friesland in exchange for their services, as well as a chunk of cash. But after the mercenaries crushed the rebellion, Friesland’s government decided that it wasn’t such a great idea to settle battle-hardened mercenaries in their midst. Nor did it seem like a good idea to let the mercenaries sell their skills to other employers, since said employers could well be Friesland’s enemies. Best idea: kill off the now-superfluous soldiers. Friesland expects that their own Colonel Hammer will acquiesce. They are wrong. Hammer sides with his soldiers. Forewarned, the Slammers obliterate their would-be assassins and become the very destabilizing force that Friesland had feared."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Wampuscat

    Like with most of Drake's books I have read, afterward I find myself thinking... 'Well, that was almost good.' It's just on the border of OK and Good. This one was good in premise, and it had its moments of intensity, but for the most part I have to call it lackluster. Something about it just felt like I was thrown into the middle of a story without enough context to understand what was happening. You eventually get the info you need, but it's like having someone explain an inside joke after eve Like with most of Drake's books I have read, afterward I find myself thinking... 'Well, that was almost good.' It's just on the border of OK and Good. This one was good in premise, and it had its moments of intensity, but for the most part I have to call it lackluster. Something about it just felt like I was thrown into the middle of a story without enough context to understand what was happening. You eventually get the info you need, but it's like having someone explain an inside joke after everyone is done laughing about it... it falls flat. One word of caution to anyone reading these as part of the Complete Hammer's Slammers omnibus… ORDER MATTERS. I suggest you read in the order shown in the original, and not the order of the omnibus version. I did not realize this, and I think this is why I felt contextually lost as I mentioned above. Anyway, I'm going to write about the individual stories (but not the interludes) in detail and give them ratings. I'll try not to get spoiler-y, but be cautious reading from this point forward. Overall I give the book a rating of PI - 22 stars over 7 stories – (3.14 stars) and call it an OK Read. But Loyal to His Own (4 stars) An introduction to the origins of Hammer's Slammers. General Hammer must defend his troops from political plotting of the Friesland President who sent them out to fight in the first place. Now that they have won (at any cost) he fears they are too powerful and can't be redeemed. His solution to that problem is not something Hammer will let happen. This is a good story. It should be read first before anything. It is key to understanding the background for all the others. The Butcher’s Bill (2 stars) Introduces a recurring character, Danny Pritchard, who serves as a conscience (albeit maybe an ignored one) to Hammer's Slammers. In this story, the client who's hired the Slammers is naïve to the costs of war. They want to stop once they realize what's coming, and Mercenaries live off their reputations, and blood has already been spilled. Under the Hammer (3 stars) This is a decent story introducing another minor recurring character, Rob Jenne, who gets his first taste of combat on his first day on the job. Cultural Conflict (5 stars) This is the best story in the book IMO. A tanker crew whose boring assignment is canceled runs afoul of local flora/fauna. A sentient hive mind tries to defend itself, but the supertanks of Hammer's Slammers are not a natural enemy. There is another minor recurring character intro in this one also, Sgt. Horthy. Caught in the Crossfire (4 stars) A competing Merc group is trying to set a trap for Hammer's convoy. They are using a village populated by women and children (whose men-folk – save one too injured to go - have been conscripted) to do it. One of the women, Margritte, is made a widow and has nothing left to strive for except revenge. She too becomes a recurring minor character in later stories. Hangman (3 stars) A competing merc company and the Slammers have been transition from fighting on either side of an ethnic war to keeping the peace in it. Unfortunately, the opposing mercs have too many cultural ties to one side and surreptitiously begin to aid them, while the Slammers can do nothing that won't jeopardize their own contract. That's why Danny Pritchard and his crew must allow one atrocity to trigger a reaction that will prevent a larger one. This story highlights Pritchard's conscientious but loyal personality, and the dichotomy of war as a means to peace. Standing Down (1 star) While this story puts a period to the quest for a home for the Slammers, it is scattered and not very memorable. Hammer returns his company to Friesland to help put a dictator in power… the dictator 'dies'… Hammer becomes ruler and is about to marry the daughter of former President Tromp to cement a political alliance. Holdouts die mercilessly.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James

    The author introduces an intriguing future universe and situation; the book is about a mercenary military unit traveling from world to world, all human - no alien cultures here - selling their services to the highest bidders in local wars. His characterization of combat is intense and his action sequences are fast-paced. Neither utopian nor dystopian, it presents a complex social situation that is more believable than the homogenous visions, either light or dark, of a lot of writers.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Espen

    I didn't really enjoy this book. I was expecting something like Falkenberg's legions, which is reasonable since Jerry Pournelle blurbed this one, but I found that Hammer is a harsher, more brutal man than Falkenberg. This is probably an accurate portrait of many such soldiers, but I found it unpleasant to read about. I think there is a place for such stories, I just don't want to read them.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karl Schaeffer

    Better than i thought. Another cheap pick-up from the Library used book sale. First couple short stories were very detailed fog-of-war stories. latter stories showed some non-fighting plot and character development.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Trying to understand my illogical interest in tanks, I recalled reading this when I was a kid in the SciFi book (of the month) club. The men were mercenaries, foreshadowing the movie "Soldier" or at least overlapping that, in my mind.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    Decent military pot-boiler. I was REALLY intrigued by the chapter describing a battle from the point of view of "animals" whose sensory systems were directly linked with those of the plants in the forest where the battle was under way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Very military, but very human too.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Scott Schmidt

    Didn't know it was a "short story" style of book and by the end I wish it would have been a full-fledged novel. I think the biggest draw here is the tanks. They're a very cool piece of science fiction and I really enjoyed the story "Hangman" because of the description of the hover tank combat. But, overall, I wasn't blown away (no pun) by much regarding the characters, plot, style or the world Drake created.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Frantick Reader

    From the fun era of war sci fi. So many books and stories that are lost in bargain bins that can excite the imagination and would most likely make better television shows and films than what we have today.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Early military sci-fi short stories from the 1970's, gritty and raw, that set the standard within the sub-genre. The Slammer's aren't perfect, with some definitely morally gray actions, but that adds great depth to all the characters. I'm looking forward to working my way through the series.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Very good story, well written & interesting to those of us not particularly thrilled with military hardware. Very good story, well written & interesting to those of us not particularly thrilled with military hardware.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chris Cmpton

    A different take on future war, a good read. His recent works aren't violent like this. From the 70's. Very violent, he wrote it after returning from 'Nam.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Frank Ormond

    It was really hard to follow.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Susie

    Thoroughly enjoyed this first Hammer's Slammers book. Tried the rest and they just didn't hold up for me -- felt repetitive. First one was fresh, with very moving ways of describing the action.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charles JunkChuck

    This is the book that made David Drake, an exciting and quietly incisive collection of short stories following the (mostly) noble mercenaries of Colonel Alois Hammer's armor divisions. While the stories can be read as straight combat fiction, written by a man who saw war first hand, there are greater truths not only about war, but about peace and human nature, about honor and duty and fraternity, at every corner. Drake has gone on to become one of the more accomplished speculative fiction writer This is the book that made David Drake, an exciting and quietly incisive collection of short stories following the (mostly) noble mercenaries of Colonel Alois Hammer's armor divisions. While the stories can be read as straight combat fiction, written by a man who saw war first hand, there are greater truths not only about war, but about peace and human nature, about honor and duty and fraternity, at every corner. Drake has gone on to become one of the more accomplished speculative fiction writers of our time, and compared to his masterful and seemingly effortless contemporary work these stories can seem a little rough, but that comes with its own merits which actually serve the hard-nosed spirit at work. Note: I read this book as a high school student and it was, along with Gordon Dickson's "Soldier, Ask Not" one of the primary reasons I became a sci-fi junkie, so read at your own risk: contents are highly addictive.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    The original version of short stories about Hammer's Slammers by David Drake has everything you really need to know to learn about whether you will like military SF. If you like history or action then you should read this book, it will definitely make you feel like you were in on the tale. Contains stories along with world building information: shown with Star*s: But Loyal to His Own Supertanks* The Butcher's Bill The Church of the Lord's Universe* Under the Hammer Powerguns* Cultural Conflict Backdrop The original version of short stories about Hammer's Slammers by David Drake has everything you really need to know to learn about whether you will like military SF. If you like history or action then you should read this book, it will definitely make you feel like you were in on the tale. Contains stories along with world building information: shown with Star*s: But Loyal to His Own Supertanks* The Butcher's Bill The Church of the Lord's Universe* Under the Hammer Powerguns* Cultural Conflict Backdrop to Chaos* Caught in the Crossfire The Bonding Authority* Hangman Table of Organization and Equipment, Hammer's Regiment* Standing Down

  20. 4 out of 5

    David Ramage

    Well I agree with a majority of the other reviews. A collection of short stories with pseudo connections over a very clunky timeline. The interludes provide more of a fabric to weave the stories together albeit very clunky. The characters were hit or miss but the horrors and reality of a mercenary war were very intriguing. I got into it more by the third story and found some solid ground to follow the narrative. I do find myself wanting to read the next book in the series before I would write it Well I agree with a majority of the other reviews. A collection of short stories with pseudo connections over a very clunky timeline. The interludes provide more of a fabric to weave the stories together albeit very clunky. The characters were hit or miss but the horrors and reality of a mercenary war were very intriguing. I got into it more by the third story and found some solid ground to follow the narrative. I do find myself wanting to read the next book in the series before I would write it off. If your a fan of military sci-fi and tanks with heavy Napoleonic flair this is something to check out!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wolfgang Kolb

    Great read for an insightful view on the role of the "professional" soldier. Given recent world events and the increasing need for military contractors, Hammer's Slammers still has its place. The book format is a quick read and very easy to rip through a chapter then put it down and come back. This book is more of a sketch to the imagined world Drake portrays with the a deeper look into the underlying philosopies of military action and the men that are required to carry out these actions. Added Great read for an insightful view on the role of the "professional" soldier. Given recent world events and the increasing need for military contractors, Hammer's Slammers still has its place. The book format is a quick read and very easy to rip through a chapter then put it down and come back. This book is more of a sketch to the imagined world Drake portrays with the a deeper look into the underlying philosopies of military action and the men that are required to carry out these actions. Added bonus, explosions, tanks, advanced weapons tech and body parts.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Hard science-fiction surrounding a mercenary contingent in a distant future. This series is a part of the genre that revolves around colonization on distant stars, the breakdown of control by central authorities and the use of mercenaries to establish or destabilize control. Much like the original Falkenburg stories, the book is a series of short stories that represent different points of view from within the mercenary company. An excellent read, very fast-paced and a lot of fun to turn the page Hard science-fiction surrounding a mercenary contingent in a distant future. This series is a part of the genre that revolves around colonization on distant stars, the breakdown of control by central authorities and the use of mercenaries to establish or destabilize control. Much like the original Falkenburg stories, the book is a series of short stories that represent different points of view from within the mercenary company. An excellent read, very fast-paced and a lot of fun to turn the pages. I recommend the collected works.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    There is nothing I cna say to do David Drake's series justice. It was the first military science fiction I ever read (I was around 10 I think and reading one of my brother's books; this was around the time I read First Flight by Claremont too). Drake, at least in this series, always treated his characters as nothing more, or less, than just regular guys having a job to do. Many of them liked the job and many of them hated it, but it's what they were paid to do. Going back to these stories was li There is nothing I cna say to do David Drake's series justice. It was the first military science fiction I ever read (I was around 10 I think and reading one of my brother's books; this was around the time I read First Flight by Claremont too). Drake, at least in this series, always treated his characters as nothing more, or less, than just regular guys having a job to do. Many of them liked the job and many of them hated it, but it's what they were paid to do. Going back to these stories was like curling up with a childhood stuffed animal, comforting and nostalgic.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I read this book many years ago when it was new and I was not impressed. Since then I have read many books by David Drake and I am a big fan and really like most of his books. I came across this book again at a used book store and decided to but it and give it another try. I was still not impressed. Something about Hammer's Slammers just doesn't click with me. I really love Davis Drake's RCN series and most of his other writings but not this one. Most people who's reviews I have read loved this I read this book many years ago when it was new and I was not impressed. Since then I have read many books by David Drake and I am a big fan and really like most of his books. I came across this book again at a used book store and decided to but it and give it another try. I was still not impressed. Something about Hammer's Slammers just doesn't click with me. I really love Davis Drake's RCN series and most of his other writings but not this one. Most people who's reviews I have read loved this book so don't let me put you off if you want to read it. It may just be me. :)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matt Lawson

    i thought it wa ok had alot of military lingo so hard to understand in some parts and had alot of chatter between characters whos names i couldnt pronounce but i enjoyed the military action as well as the gorey parts that entailed, would recommend if into military stories with sci-fi but prepare for alot of details about the vehicles and alot of banter between characters who seem to jump in and out in each chapter, its only volume one so maybe it will get better in later volumes

  26. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    This is the first version of the first volume of Drake's famous military sf series. I'd read many of the sections before when they appeared in magazine form, but enjoyed them again in this format. His style was not as well-developed nor as well-crafted as it became in later works, but the sheer emotion and sincerity of these early works is really exemplary. The Hammer stories are still the best of modern military sf.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Well this one is a throwback but I recently read it again just for posterity's sake, and Man am I glad I did. Tanks? check. Awesome tank combat? check. Dropping a tank from orbit and it still being battle ready and dangerous? Check, check and CHECK! This book is just sci-fi fun and the characters are a bunch of Snapperheads. Read it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ford Prefect

    Positives The first short story is good. Negatives: * There is no continuity between the stories. None of them have the same characters. Each time it focuses on a different person ... never mentioned before... at a location ... never seen before. The stories could of been about random military personnel in different armies. * I found many of the short stories boring.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    This is the book that earned David Drake his reputation. It's a collection of short stories about a group of future mercenaries. All the stories here are great, and there is wonderful detail. You get the sense of reality from reading them.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

    I just could not finish this book. I thought I would love it because I served in a mechanized Infantry unit during my US Army days and I like military science fiction but I could not get into the book for some reason.

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