Bride of Roundup Returns: A New Hope – Reviews of “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa

See our review here.

Lyle Hopwood

I quite liked this one, but nopes on the Hugs because too much naka naka naka kerpow, and also because there’s a line after the punchline. Oh, and because the title gives the story away and eeeehhhh Benedict Arnold. I gather he did it for money, which is hardly comparable.


I think this is a quite awfully-written story with a heavy-handed delivery of plot points and a lot of infodumping. You can see the “surprise” conclusion of the story coming from miles away (or by reading the title, actually). A very boring read, overall.

Cynthia Wood

left himself no room to give the story what it most needed. It’s not unreadable, but unless you love to geek out to ship specs, it’s probably not going to grab you. It certainly didn’t grab me.

Adult Onset Atheist

Smade of Smade’s Planet

…it would be interesting to see this story rewritten with a different structure or expanded into a longer piece that would give the author more room to work… A bit formulaic, sure, but with the potential for a Heinleinesque melding of action and philosophy that makes the formula by no means a serious problem.  It’s a true shame that the potential doesn’t get realised despite the author’s obvious intentions.

Ken Richards

The same story as told by Tom Kratman in his nominated novella, told in fewer words, but with higher ratio of weapons porn to storytelling. Blessedly short, and with a massive spoiler in the title.

Lis Carey

It’s a premise with so much promise, and the execution is just so poor. We have badly done weapons porn. We have almost comically cardboard villainy by the posthuman upper command. The hero AI talks about humans in terms indicating utter contempt, and then says it’s humans that make it feel alive–before any of the events that apparently lead to the change of allegiance.

There is no there there…

Lis Carey on the collection Riding the Red Horse

It includes the very good The Hot Equations, by Ken Burnside, and the very disappointing Turncoat by Steve Rzasa. There is, early on, a casual endorsement of the probable “necessity” of genocide on the grounds that Those People aren’t smart enough to modify their behavior. A point Beale’s fans will have difficulty with is that such inflammatory language makes it less likely that readers will take in the point the author was attempting to make. A better editor would have caught it and told the author to dispense with pointless provocation and just make his point.


when I say “Turncoat” is a perfectly adequate late-period Campbellian story I don’t mean it as a compliment.  You can’t even say the characters are cardboard, since there are no characters, just a warship that, for the most part, proceeds along strict logical lines.  There’s no one to like, or even hate, no one to identify with or root for, nothing at stake for the reader.


my favorite story in the collection, and the idea gets explored well enough despite the large amount of previous material with similar subject matter (i.e. The Ship Who Sang, Ancillary Justice, etc…) and it hints at some troubling things about potentially “uploaded” humans that might be weird in the longrun. Will probably make my ballot

Philip Sandifer

The story is facile at best. The basic plot and themes are recycled from Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, which was a similar series of philosophical explorations of machine intelligence dressed up in plots, although Asimov favored detective plots as opposed to paragraph-long lists of sci-fi weapons and descriptions of space combat.


Two stories that standout above the others were Turncoat by Rzasa and War Crimes by Cheah. Excellent stories that illustrate humanity in inhumane and even entirely non-human protagonists and characters. If Castalia House can maintain this level of quality I’ll be reading this series for years to come.


Rzasa is too focused on the glory of war to probe the provocative philosophical questions that should be the backbone of his story. Instead he describes warfare in graphic, almost obsessive detail

No award

Scott Richardson

One story I absolutely loved was “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House). The characterization that took place in that short story was impressive. It was enough to convince me to go buy some other books by Steve Rzasa.

Keith Glass

I’m having a hard time as to which is 1st and which is 2nd on my Short Story ballot: I’m still reading and re-reading “Totaled” and “Turncoat”. Both are, IMHO, Hugo-quality, and by that I mean the stuff that was winning Hugos when most of my SF was borrowed from the public library, a bike-load at a time. . .

Rebekkah Golden

Why does it matter than I can easily think of six better AI stories without even referencing Philip K Dick, Frank Herbert, William Gibson, Pat Cadigan, Arthur C Clark, or Dan Simmons? Because this is for a Hugo and “Turncoat” does not deserve to stand with those authors, the ones who have won and the ones I would have win who haven’t.

Jonathan Moeller

Usually stories about AI involve the AI going psychotic, so it was interesting to see an AI develop a conscience instead.

Screen Burn

Turncoat* by Steven Rzasa (Castalia House isn’t getting my money)

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