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The Enemy Papers
Barry B. Longyear
White Wolf Books, 655 pages

The Enemy Papers
Barry B. Longyear
In 1977, at the age of 35, Barry B. Longyear decided that, although he enjoyed being a printer, he hated customers. He sold his printing company and went into writing full time, somewhat neglecting two areas: figuring out what to write, and figuring out how to write. He calls this the kamikaze school of career selection. Through an admittedly fortunate series of circumstances, he learned what he needed to learn and made his first sale, the short story "The Tryouts," to Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine the next year. Following that, he sold numerous short works, with stories appearing in Analog, Amazing, Omni, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Twilight Zone, and non-fiction pieces in Writer's Digest. His stories include the award winning novella "Enemy Mine," later made into a major motion picture by 20th Century Fox.

In his first year of publication he sold his first three books, Manifest Destiny, Circus World, and City of Baraboo, and a year later he became the first writer to be awarded the Nebula Award, Hugo Award, and John W. Campbell Award for best new writer in the same year. In December of 1981 he entered St. Mary's Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis for treatment for addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs. This formed the basis for his novel, Saint Mary Blue, the story of a group of patients undergoing treatment. Since treatment he has published Sea of Glass, Naked Came the Robot, The God Box, Infinity Hold, The Homecoming, It Came From Schenectady, and his two Alien Nation novels from Pocket, The Change and Slag Like Me.

Barry was born May 12, 1942 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and currently resides in New Sharon, Maine, with his lovely wife Jean and a used dog. His hobbies include wood carving, computer games, sailing, and especially downhill skiing, for which he will immediately drop whatever else it is that he is doing.

Barry B. Longyear Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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In 1979, Barry B. Longyear published a short story called "Enemy Mine" in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. This story, about a human and an alien Drac stranded on a hostile planet, won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards and won Longyear a John W. Campbell Award for best new author. In 1984, shortly after Longyear published The Tomorrow Testament, a sequel to "Enemy Mine," a film, starring Lou Gossett, Jr. and Dennis Quaid was released based on the original story. Now, 14 years later, Longyear has published a third work in the "Enemy Mine" universe.

The Enemy Papers collect the two previous stories and adds the novel The Last Enemy -- but the book contains more than just Longyear's fiction. Following the trilogy, Longyear has included essays about writing this series, about formulating an alien language and a short glossary of the Drac language. Before the trilogy, as a sort of introduction, Longyear includes The Talman, the collected wisdom of the Drac which Longyear quotes and alludes to throughout the three stories.

On its own, The Talman is an interesting take on various human mythological and philosophical themes. As Willis Davidge says in "Enemy Mine,":  "you can find the same stuff in Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, James, Freud, Szasz, Nortmyer, and the Declaration of Independence." However, The Talman is not meant to be taken on its own. Beginning as a bunch of short quotes used by Longyear in the various stories, The Talman in its current form provides the background information for Drac culture. Interesting when it tells a story, at other times, this "Drac Bible" appears to be merely a tedious collection of short quotes and sophistries.

"Enemy Mine" tells the story of Willis Davidge, a human fighter pilot who chases his Drac victim, Jeriba Shigan, down to the surface of Fyrene IV, an inhospitable planet where the two stranded warriors find they must put their differences aside if they have any hope to survive. If Longyear had ended his story there, he would have made the same point as countless other stories and probably not won the awards bestowed upon him. However, he elected to continue the story to tell of Davidge raising Jeriba Shigan's offspring, Jeriba Zammis. This addition made "Enemy Mine" what it was. Despite being an award-winning story, Longyear has continued to tinker with "Enemy Mine," eventually producing the "Author's Cut" presented in the White Wolf omnibus. This version includes more of the wisdom of The Talman, showing more of Davidge's growth away from his xenocentric origins.

The Tomorrow Testament takes another look at the Human-Drac War, this time from the point of view of infantry soldier Joanne Nicole. Nicole is taken prisoner by the Dracs and is then blinded when trying to save three Drac children from a Terran assault on the Dracon base where she is being held. The only human survivor of the raid, Nicole is sent back to the Dracs' homeworld as a ward of one of the children's father's. The Tomorrow Testament is a more philosophical work than "Enemy Mine," revealing more of the context of The Talman (which a reader of The Enemy Papers) may already have read in full. Nicole loses her vision before she is allowed to see any of the truth of the Human-Drac War. Longyear also permits more of the background and horror of the war to show through in this work than he did in "Enemy Mine," although the horror still seems to be at a remove, possibly because once Nicole is blinded all the horror is memory rather than witnessed. The Tomorrow Testament also begins the examination of the causes of the war which weren't important to Willis Davidge's story, and shows the end of the war which Davidge only heard about.

The Last Enemy is, according to Longyear, the final installment in the saga of Humans and Dracs and appears in The Enemy Papers for the first time. The story is told form the point of view of the Drac on Amadeen, where the war began. Although Longyear presents the war from a first hand point of view, The Last Enemy still suffers from the same sense of detachment found in The Tomorrow Testament. In one of his included essays, Longyear explains that Amadeen is a stand-in for the Middle East, Northern Ireland and any of a number of other terrestrial hot zones where peace is not foreseeable. There also seems to be a certain amount of Viet Nam and Korea added to the mix. However, Longyear is writing fiction and has the ability, if not the necessity, to resolve the situation. His Drac narrator, Yazi Ro, turns its back on the killing early, but still can see the carnage and destruction occurring around it. In The Last Enemy, Longyear also ties together the strands of the two earlier works, announcing Joanne Nicole's testament to be a canonical addition to The Talman and includes the reappearance of Willis Davidge, now the patron of the Jeriba line.

The inclusion of essays on how and why he wrote the Enemy sequence satisfies more than just the reader's interest. Longyear uses the essays to explain the themes which run through the trilogy in case the reader missed them during the initial reading. Because of this, reading these essays before the stories may lessen the surprise and tension of the stories, but at the same time, the essays can heighten the reader's understanding of what Longyear is attempting to say and do.

Copyright © 1998 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.


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