Gunner Cade by Cyril Judd (book review).

April 27, 2022 | By | Reply More

Interestingly, ‘Gunner Cade’ by Cyril Judd aka C.M. Kornbluth and Judith Merril is in its third printing here in 1966, the second at Gollancz and was originally released in 1952 and that’s it. I’m nothing if not up-to-date.

The first impression of ‘Gunner Kade’ is that its nothing like ‘Output Mars’ but military SF. Look at that date again: 1952! Probably not the first military SF. I think that might be HG Wells’ ‘The Ironclads’. That’s tanks by the way and definitely terrestrial and, frankly, it was a boring read when I was a youngster.

Gunner Cade is the leader of a flight of, for the want of a better word, commandoes, willing to sacrifice any of his team to succeed for the Emperor. Cade is of the Order of Armsmen and of the Star of France, although set in the UK. Other Stars, including Mars, are available and members of each are regarded as military kin as he explains to recent transfer Gunner Harrow, who was of the Mars Star unit.

On a mission to thwart an underground of usurpers, Kade is captured after being fooled by an old lady into drinking a alcohol-based drink, although one would think he was drugged, he wasn’t used to alcohol. Without his identification, Kade finds himself at the mercies of the local constabulary and imprisoned. With the help of fellow prisoner and thief, Klin Teacher Fledwick Zisz, they escape with the intension of getting to the barracks to establish his identity. Thing is, everyone thinks he’s dead and he’s an imposter to be killed on sight.

How much more to say. There is definitely a conspiracy going on and Cade finds that out to his cost. Interestingly, half-way through the book we discover that the setting is the UK and, although they get their geography right, I do wonder at the length of time it takes Cade to travel when you consider that not all rivers are connected.

Elements of the plot are drawn together at the end which, unfortunately, rushes to a somewhat good ending. That might be a fault of the page count requirements, not to mention Americans prefer a happy ending or close to a story. Saying that, the story holds together as a whole with engaging characters with their own motivations.

With pairs of authors working together on two novels, one writer will lead with ideas on one book and the next the other way around. Which does which here will have to wait until I read Merril’s own two novels, bookends to these two, and let me have a think about it. Both are good character writers and that does show here.

If you’re into military SF, then ‘Gunner Cade’ should be a good reminder that you don’t have to use ‘Aliens’ as the military template.

GF Willmetts

April 2022

(pub: Penguin Science Fiction, 1966. 199 page paperback. Price: It varies but you can get a good deal on it. ISBN: 2460)

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Category: Books, Scifi


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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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