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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Soldier Boy -- Michael Shaara

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Michael Shaara (1928-1988) saw his novelette "Soldier Boy" published in the July 1953 issue of Galaxy. It was expanded into a novel and published by Timescape/Pocket in 1982.

Until a motorcycle accident left him brain damaged in the late 1970s and virtually unable to work, Shaara led an interesting and varied life. Prior to the Korean War he was a sergeant and paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne division. Other vocations include boxer, policeman, and teacher of creative writing. Most famous were his critically acclaimed Civil War novels, and his The Killer Angels won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975.

Following Shaara's death in 1988 from his second heart attack, his son Jeff (also an acclaimed novelist), discovered an unpublished manuscript titled For Love of the Game, the story of a major league baseball pitcher. Unable to interest a publisher during his lifetime, Carrol & Graf picked it up and published it in 1991. In 1999 For Love of the Game became a major motion picture starring Kevin Costner and Kelly Preston.

In 1997 Jeff Shaara established the Michael Shaara Prize for Civil War Fiction.

"Solider Boy" is set in the far future when mankind has seeded the galaxy and settled many colony worlds. Following 500 years of peace, aliens have discovered and begun exterminating the colonists on the rim worlds, working their way inward. Each world has been set with a destructive device lest invaders inherit our technology, but this fail-safe seems to have failed.

Back on one of the central worlds this is cause for major concern, and the government sends what is left of its long-unfunded and aging military ships to warn--and hopefully evacuate--other of the rim worlds colonies before the alien invaders reach them. Only a few tired, drunken soldiers remain to carry out this rescue mission. What they discover is more alarming than any had imagined, and we learn much as we follow one soldier as he carries out his duty. Listen now to Michael Shaara's exciting...and cautionary tale of one lone "Soldier Boy."

X Minus One aired "Soldier Boy" on October 17, 1956.

Play Time: 28:51