I first discovered the Warbots series in 1988 when there were only two books on the market. The world has become a place where the United States fights its war with robots on the battlefield instead of humans. These warbots are completely controlled by humans, but they never ever miss and have made combat relatively risk free.
The series follows Curt Carson and his soldiers into a world where the military discovers that you can’t win every fight with just bots on the battlefield. They can’t do everything a human can, so…the US Army gets thrown back on the battlefield with humans at risk once again.
As someone who would eventually become a physicist, I have always intrigued by topics such as this, even when presented fictionally. I thought long and hard about it the contents of the series. At the time it seemed like it was impossible. I mean robots doing our fighting for us? Nevertheless, G. Harry Stine hooked me in and made me surrender to each of the twelve books that would ultimately make up the series.
He did it by bringing to light in a page-turner kind of way several topics we now take for granted.
Would the military ever really allow itself to become dependent upon robots? I thought it would never happen. Robots were simple things at this point in time, banks still had tellers, and we all used dial up internet – if we used internet at all.
Artificial Intelligence was not a new topic, but mostly it was something we saw in movies, and used to scare us. The Hal-9000 decided that it knew best, Terminators came back in time to kill, and our imaginations ran wild.
That was then.
This is now.
We do indeed depend upon robots, only we call them drones.
Some of them are even armed.
There is even a murmur of a human (at least for Americans) free battlefield.
Would it surprise you to learn that the drones flying around the Middle East today are flown by pilots near Las Vegas? It is true.
Would it surprise you to learn that object recognition, and facial recognition are now common commodity items for the AI community? Probably not. Those technologies are now off the shelf and used on our mobile phones to check our bank balance.
When these books were written they were speculative, but dang if G. Harry Stine didn’t get close to what is going on now, thirty years later.
But wait, there’s more!
What about these Middle East terrorists who were dumb enough to take on a massively superior military? Surely no one would be that dumb, using weapons so many generations behind those of the United States that they couldn’t possibly win a war. Or would they?
Yes, he got that one right also. He gave us a fictional version of something close to what we see today. In my opinion he’s still half a generation in front of where we are now, and in time he may be proven absolutely correct. Only time will tell.
I wanted to read these books again as a potential influence for some of my own fiction writing, and when I found out I couldn’t get new copies of these books (as mine were long gone) I was upset. I wanted to read them again. I poured into my favorite used book websites and found they were actually even hard to find there. So, I went on a quest. To find out who had the rights. It took a bit of work, but I found it. Bill Stine, the son of G. Harry, who has followed his father into the model rocketry world, was the answer, and thankfully supportive.
I am proud to be part of getting these books back out on the market, and I want to thank Bill Stine for allowing it.
I think the contents of these books will stick in reader’s brains and if they don’t they will certainly make you think. I hope you enjoy them as much today as I did 30 years ago.