Interstellar Patrol II: The Federation of Humanity (2005) is the second collection of Interstellar Patrol stories and related SF tales, following Interstellar Patrol itself. This volume includes twenty-two short stories and a short novel set in the Colonization universe.
In this collection, the first six stories are at least marginally related to the Interstellar Patrol, an organization known for its use of unconventional strategy and tactics. "The Claw and the Clock" (Analog, 1971) tells of the disastrous Crustax invasion of the pacifistic world of Storehouse. This story does not directly involve the IP except at the conclusion.
"Riddle Me This . . ." (Analog, 1972) concerns the rescue of two IP agents from a Crustax space fortress by Captain Roberts and his crew. "The Unknown" (Amazing, 1972) relates the tribulations of three con artists who attract the attention of the IP team and their ship. "The Throne and the Usurper" (F&SF, 1970) depicts the confrontation between Roberts and a man with an unusual talent. "The Trojan Hostage" (Analog, 1990) relates the trials of Roberts as a prisoner of clever anarchists.
Warlord's World (DAW, 1975) is a novel about the kidnapping of a royal princess of Festhold who has been admitted by Roberts into his IP crew as a probationary recruit. The villains are very cunning, but the IP is even more persistent in the defense of their new recruit. Since she is the sister of the true King, Roberts and the IP also intervene in an ongoing attempt to usurp the throne of Festhold.
The remaining stories concern other aspects of the Federation of Humanity. The next five tales are about Soldiers and Scholars. "Goliath and the Beanstalk" (Astounding, 1958) and "Facts To Fit the Theory" (Analog, 1966) relate the tales of Stath invasions of two separate pacifistic human planets. "Cantor's War" (If, 1974) pits an authoritative mathematician against the pragmatic military. "Uplift For the Savage" (Analog, 1968) tells of the practical education given to a learned woman by a fieldworker. "Odds" (Amazing, 1977) depicts the challenges of a man on an improbable planet.
The following five tales are about the Troubles With Cargoes. "The Troublemaker" (Astounding, 1960) concerns a cargo-control man who causes problems and a captain who knows the perfect solution to such antics. "Bill For Delivery" (Analog, 1964) shows why live cargo is often not a good idea. "Untropy" (Analog, 1966) illustrates the perils of drinking and driving. "The Low Road" (Amazing, 1970) shows why it is sometimes desirable to drink while driving. "Trial By Silk" (Amazing, 1970) depicts a situation that must be experienced before it can be believed.
The last seven tales in this collection are about the Troubles With Colonies. "The Operator" (Analog, 1971) puts the acting leader of a colony figuratively between a den of pack-bears and a shipload of neobarbarians, with some desirable females as the prize. "While the North Wind Blows" (Amazing, 1978) continues the previous story, only now the warm spell has led to an influx of giant flit birds and the awakening of the flame throwing slags. "Leverage" (Astounding, 1959) tells of a planet where the lifeforms cooperate much more vigorously than expected. "The Sieve" (Astounding, 1959) relates a tale of a new colony with too many uncooperative druggies. "Mating Problems" (Astounding, 1959) reveals one way of canceling out difficulties. "Hunger" (Analog, 1964) suggests that material goods and self-control is not enough. "Contrast" (Analog, 1964) explains a service provided to jaded citizens by one group of colonists.
Many of these stories have morals of sorts. For example, never attack a group of pacifists without checking out their history; some may be former galactic conquerors trying another approach. Another is to analyse the assumptions when evaluating a problem. In any case, the author doesn't just write a satisfying story, but also gives the reader something to thing about afterwards.
Unhappily, few people remember this author from his glory days. As one of those few, I still enjoy memories of his stories in Astounding and Analog and his few book collections and novels. My first introduction to Anvil was his story "The Gentle Earth" in a used edition of the November, 1957, Astounding, where naive aliens invade Earth and then discover weather.
Note that many of Anvil's stories first appeared in Astounding/Analog, starting with Pandora's Planet in the September, 1956, issue of Astounding. They continued to be published in the magazine for the rest of Campbell's tenure as editor. Apparently Ben Bova did not have the same appreciation for Anvil's style as Campbell, so Anvil went elsewhere. Yet Anvil returned for the last IP story, "The Trojan Hostage", which was published in the July, 1990, issue of Analog.
This is the last collection of IP tales, but not the last of Anvil's stories. The Trouble With Aliens gathers a plethora of short works about various and sundry problems with aliens of all sorts. They may be the best tales ever written by Anvil, but for certain they are even more typical of his style.
Highly recommended for Anvil fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of space adventure, risky situations and competent people.
-Arthur W. Jordin