Vintage Treasures: Soldier Boy by Michael Shaara

Vintage Treasures: Soldier Boy by Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels Michael Shaara-small Soldier Boy Michael Shaara-small Soldier Boy Michael Shaara-back-small

Michael Shaara won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1974 Civil War novel The Killer Angels. It was a huge bestseller, selling more than 2 million copies worldwide, and became the basis for the 1993 film Gettysburg.

Most of Shaara’s legion of fans don’t know that he began his career as as a science fiction writer. His first publication was “Orphans of the Void” in the June 1952 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. Matthew Wuertz has been reviewing the entire back catalog of Galaxy since its first issue; he described the story thusly.

Captain Steffens and his crew explore the Tyban solar system. They find the third planet populated by millions of robots. The robots are telepathic, in the likeness of their makers, who are nowhere to be found. Yet the robots continue to await the return of their makers, for their longing to serve is their primary function. This was a marvelous tale of first encounters. It plays out well, with a touch of sadness that leads to great hope.

Over the next 30 years Shaara’s short fiction appeared in genre magazines like F&SF, Astounding, Fantastic Universe, and Galaxy. In 1982 he issued a single collection gathering most of his finest short fiction, Soldier Boy, published through David Hartwell’s legendary Timescape imprint at Pocket Books.

[Click images to embiggen.]

Here’s a sample of some of the magazines these stories first appeared in.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction June 1954-small Astounding Science Fiction December 1956-small Fantastic Universe October 1957-small

And here’s the Table of Contents.

Introduction by Michael Shaara
“Soldier Boy” (Galaxy Science Fiction, July 1953)
“Grenville’s Planet” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1952)
“Opening Up Slowly” (Redbook, August 1973)
“The Book” (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1953)
“Come to My Party” (Dude, August 1956)
“Time Payment” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1954)
“Citizen Jell” (Galaxy Magazine, August 1959)
“The Dark Angel,” original to this volume
“Wainer” (Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1954)
“All the Way Back” (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1952)
“2066: Election Day” (Astounding Science Fiction, December 1956)
“Border Incident” (Mississippi Review, November 1976)
“Starface,” original to this volume
“The Peeping Tom Patrol” (Playboy, September 1958)
“The Orphans of the Void” (Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1952)
“Death of a Hunter” (Fantastic Universe, October 1957)
Author’s Afterword by Michael Shaara

Soldier Boy was published by Pocket Books in March 1982. It is 255 pages, priced at $2.50. The cover is by Boris Vallejo. It was re-issued in ebook format in November 2014 by Antenna Books.

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Adrian Simmons

“Soldier Boy” was made into an excellent radio play on “X Minus One”.

Check it out!

Thomas Parker

There’s a ton of X Minus One science fiction radio shows (and other aural goodies – Inner Sanctum, Lights Out, etc.) at Relic Radio. It’s well worth a visit.

Adrian Simmons

Thanks Thomas Parker. I went through a classic sf radio phase in late 2016, early 2017, but I don’t recall Inner Sanctum or Lights Out. X Minus One, 2000X and Dimension X. … if it had an “X” in the title, I was there!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x