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Dorsai! (Childe Cycle, #1)
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(Childe Cycle #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  9,103 ratings  ·  123 reviews
aka The Genetic General
Throughout the Fourteen Worlds of humanity, no race is as feared and respected as the Dorsai. The ultimate warriors, they are known for their deadly rages, unbreakable honor, and fierce independence. No man rules the Dorsai, but their mastery of the art of war has made them the most valuable mercenaries in the known universe.

Donal Graeme is Dorsai,
Mass Market Paperback, 280 pages
Published March 15th 1993 by Tor Books (first published 1960)
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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,103 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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It's interesting that I'd book end the reading list for my SciFi and Fantasy book discussion group with two novels, published in the same year, both up for the Hugo that year and credited with the rise of military sci-fi. The two novels are Gordon R. Dickson's "Dorsai!" and Robert A. Heinlein's "Starship Troopers." Both are heralded as influential and classics of their particular little cul-de-sac of science-fiction literature.

But go into any bookstore today and you'd easily find multiple copies
Manuel Antão
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1980
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Minimum of Bloodshed: "Dorsai!" by Gordon R. Dickson

(Original Review, 1980-08-24)

On the question of Dickson's Dorsai or Childe cycle: I understand that originally there were to be 9 books. 3 historical fiction, 3 present day fiction, and 3 SF. I also read that publishers were unwilling to put out SF books of the size of the 3 proposed so they were each split in half. So far only 4 books have been published (or so I believe, correct me
Dirk Grobbelaar
Whether Dorsai is to your particular taste or not, you’ll find echoes of it in almost every other modern Military Science Fiction novel. Released around the same time as Starship Troopers, these two novels pretty much kickstarted the genre. Some folks prefer the more visceral, “man on the ground” approach of Troopers, while others gravitate toward the strategic , or long view, approach of Dorsai!. Either way, it didn’t take authors long to realise the benefits of combining both these two aspects ...more
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
And so another title off my "got to get round to reading it" list is ticket off.

This time the first of the Childe Cycle (although I have always called it the Dorsai series). The premise is that you have a series of worlds (14 in all in this book) that have through reasons explored in the book separated out to very specific and highly specialised societies - in the case of Dorsai - instinct and talented soldiers.

The whole (known) universe operated on the principle that each planet trades these
5.0 stars. Absolutely superb, classic SF by one of the masters. Dorsai is a great example of the science fiction "superman" and Gordon Dickson's plot incorporates him very well.

Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1960)
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is the first of the Childe Cycle, a series of 11 books that was written across almost 50 years. I've read most of the series, some books twice, but I've never managed to read them in order or even within the same decade. By some odd chance, I wound up getting the entire series, except for the last book, so I think I'll read them all again in published order, since I haven't seen any list that suggests a better one. If anyone has an opinion, I'd be interested in hearing it shortly. I'm start ...more
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Well-told space opera of a bygone era. Whatever you might think about Dickson's story (or the "history" which grew from it), his story telling is first rate. This is what early SF was all about. (I'm reminded of Asimov's foundation series.)

And, despite writing in the late 1950, Dickson avoids some of the egregious science and prediction errors which plague the amateurish efforts of more recent SF writers. It's as if Dickson, fully aware that things would change even though he no clue how, made a
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Widely lauded as a military sci-fi classic, what I actually found most interesting was Dickson's view of future human civilization among the stars. It's a civilization based on the flow of labor contracts for highly skilled workers among the planets and the conflict arising from opposing views affecting control of that flow. On one hand are the "tight" societies that view this labor trade as superseding an individual's liberty and independence, ultimately prone to exploitation by unscrupulous go ...more
Dec 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
By Gordon R. Dickson
Finished: November 13th, 2008

I am a fan of military science fiction, or at least the concept behind it. I have read “Starship Troopers” by Heinlein, “The Forever War” by Joe Haldeman, “Ender’s Game” and “Ender’s Shadow” by Orson Scott Card, “Trading in Danger” and “Marque and Reprisal” by Elizabeth Moon (although that isn’t 100% military SF in my opinion), and some of the “Lensman” material by E.E. Doc Smith. So it seemed inevitable that I would eventually make my
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This one was a reread for me, but it's been decades since I read it and I basically didn't remember any of it except for the hero's name and heritage.

Dorsai! is only a small part of an uncompleted series of books by Gordon R. Dickson, intended when complete to address deep philosophical issues concerning the evolution of man, the collective unconscious, and other Jungian concepts -- see -- and was referred to by him as the Childe Cycle in reference to Childe
Mike Finn
“Dorsai!” by Gordon R Dickson: thirty five years ago I loved this. Now it seems very thin

In 1957, two years before the first version of “Dorsai!” was serialized in in “Astounding Science Fiction”, Peter Graham coined the phrase: “The Golden Age of Science Fiction is twelve.”

I started reading science fiction in the sixties when I was ten but I didn’t get to “Dorsai!” until my early twenties. I was still a twelve-year-old at heart and most science fiction excited me. I loved the puzzle-solving, th
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wwe2015
I'm still in recovery from the eyerolling that happened for the last chapter of this book. I'm gonna go ahead and spoil this one out in the open. Donal Graeme, of the planet Dorsai(!), is an intuitive superman. I wish those weren't the exact words used, but they are. He's so awesome that everyone else's ideas are dumb and he just intuitively knows the right course of action. Must be why he was such a dunderhead with the one (ok...there was one and a half) female character in the book. He was int ...more
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This book is touted as the foundation of many modern military science fiction novels--really, the beginnings of a new genre within sci fi.

As for the story itself, it is well-paced, with characters who are interesting but not fully formed. We get glimpses of the various settled worlds and their unique societies, but we don't get an in-depth understanding of any of them. The main character, Donal Graeme, is a mystery to himself and others. His meteoric rise in interstellar military ranks drives th
Mr. Literature
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you can forgive the oddly excited title this one is a hidden gem.
Storyline: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
World: 4/5

What an interesting read. This was one of those puzzle-piece books for me that linked predecessors and ancestors in just the right way to give a new picture of the science fiction genre.

This had an excellent opening chapter. It was well-written, with vivid descriptions and thoughtful turns of phrase. It was well-paced, slow and subtle with world-building of a very different and intriguing future. It even had impressive character developme
It's always a danger to re-read books that you like. For the Childe Cycle at least I have very uneven memories. This one seems like a strong echo of Tactics of Mistake which had been a favorite. But not bad. It has all the pieces of Dorsai that I remember - the philosophizing, the military conflict, the differences in who man could become. It's a little stilted. And the vision of future gender roles could certainly have been different. But not a bad start.
Susan Townsend
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it
This is the kind of good fun we used to expect from space opera, action/adventure without a lot of message. Dorsai is dated, of course—especially in the exclusion of women from positions of power, not to mention the lack of cell phones – but it holds up remarkably well. It is somewhat episodic, betraying its original serialized form, and action overshadows character, but who cares, we like Donal Graeme just fine. The plot is predictable, the fun is in seeing how Donal is going to pull off his in ...more
Per Gunnar
This book caught my interest because it was said that it, together with Starship Troopers, is considered as a classic that are responsible for the rise of military science fiction. Well, for Starship Troopers I can perhaps understand such a statement. For this one, not so much. Actually, to me, this was a rather mediocre book.

The book tells the story of Donald Graeme as he becomes a rising star as a military expert (genius) and mercenary from the planet Dorsai, renowned for “breeding” the best m
Mihail Kostov
Feb 06, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
При избора си на книга за четене, най-вече се вслушвам в препоръките на познатите си и много рядко започвам да чета нещо, което никой не ми е казал, че харесва или мрази. Сега реших да оставя малко съдбата да понареди списъка ми за четене и с нейна помощ избрах тази книга от всички, които имам, но нямам намерение да чета. Казах си, че може да попадна на нещо интересно, за което не съм подозирал, че съществува.
Сгреших. Книгата не можа да ми предложи нищо, което да си заслужава да бъде препоръчано
Apr 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: top-200-scifi
A product of the 1950s (and earlier) science-fiction style where one man can do anything and everything. Is Donal a "superman" with incredible intuition or is he the luckiest man in the galaxy or are his enemies that ignorant/stupid? Very preachy when going into the question "Are men people or property?" Book has a very bad habit of jumping to the conclusion of a conflict before revealing any prior knowledge of what the main character knows. Shows that it is one of the grandfathers of military s ...more
This is my last "official" book for the WWE 50's challenge, but I still have 4 books left to finish the 20 book I chose for the challenge.

Although the book was only 176 pages, I was snagged in this novel. I do have to say that I am starting to get a bit tired by the Uber misogynistic of the stories in this decade, but I still really enjoyed most of the books I read. It seems the last couple pages made very little sense in comparison to the rest of the novel.

3 out of 5 stars
Not sure this one makes a lot of sense anymore. I can see why it was appealing in 1960, but doesn't even stand up to other novels written that year.
Timothy Boyd
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the great classics of modern military SiFi. Excellent read, even better if you are a military man and can empathize with the main character's experiences. Very recommended
Jan 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
It is not a novel. It is comics without pictures.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've heard about Dorsai (and the Dorsai) from various sources over the last 20 years or so, but I'd never thought to stop and track down the books until recently. Heinlein mentioned the Dorsai occasionally. It was through Heinlein that I found and enjoyed the Lensman and Barsoom books, so Dorsai had always stuck around in the back of my memory as a "name I should probably investigate."

Dorsai! was deceptively simple and somewhat underwhelming until I considered it as a product of its times.

It cam
May 13, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-scifi
The one positive thing was that it took me until the very end to realize how much I hated this book.

Getting there wasn’t exactly smooth sailing, you can shatter a narrative only so much before the reader looses interest, but there was some capital the author created. That fell apart with the final revelation so insultingly stupid that it became personal.
The story was published first in a magazine and it shows, with chapters jumping years ahead and helpfully titled with the current title the hero
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read Gordon R. Dickson's "Dorsai! (Childe Cycle Book 1)" several times, now (though the last time was probably 30 years ago) and I still find it to be a good book. Of course, its big draw is the fact that it's the first book in Dickson's 10 book "Childe Cycle." Be aware that since the book was written back in 1960, the female roles aren't exactly awe-inspiring. But, those were the times and I certainly don't hold it against the book. What does bother me is the lack of character development ...more
Douglas Debner
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dorsai! dates to 1959 and predates Dune and Stranger in a Strange Land. It is fantastic, albeit slowly developing and nuanced. Given that this is the story of a hero the big picture outcome is predictable but not the basis for that outcome which, while demonstrated and considered throughout the book, only are discussed in the final scene. That final scene simultaneously resolves the story of the first book while creating astounding possibilities for the second book, a book I am starting as soon ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'll have to revisit this book in the future. On this pass, I found myself only intermittently interested in the story and characters. The world building was interesting, but I never really got a good handle on the greater setting. That said, I think this may be more a function of where I'm at rather than any flaw of the book.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I remember reading this series in my youth in the 1960s. I don't remember much about it other than I enjoyed it. I was glad to be able hear it today read by Stefan Rednicki. Of course like any of this classic author's works it is deep with a twist in the end that generally goes over my head. I must have been a lot smarter when I was young to have understood it then. I barely understand now.
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Gordon Rupert Dickson was an American science fiction author. He was born in Canada, then moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota as a teenager. He is probably most famous for his Childe Cycle and the Dragon Knight series. He won three Hugo awards and one Nebula award.

Other books in the series

Childe Cycle (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • Necromancer (Childe Cycle, #2)
  • Soldier, Ask Not (Childe Cycle, #3)
  • Tactics of Mistake (Childe Cycle, #4)
  • Spirit of Dorsai (Childe Cycle, #5)
  • Lost Dorsai (Childe Cycle, #6)
  • The Final Encyclopedia (Childe Cycle, #7)
  • The Dorsai Companion (Childe Cycle, #8)
  • The Chantry Guild (Childe Cycle, #9)
  • Young Bleys (Childe Cycle, #10)
  • Other (Childe Cycle, #11)
“Facing facts is definitely preferable to facing defeat.” 3 likes
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