on 25 July 1999
This compendium contains Saberhagen's tauted Berserker stories chronicled from the perspective of a benign historian of an advanced pacifist race. Individually the stories vary in their expose of humanity's battle against ancient war machines whose sole purpose is the extinction of all life. The berserkers have spent millenia cutting a swath through the galaxy until they finally come upon human occuppied space. Humanity, being the least evolved race and therefore having retained the barbaric ability to kill and make war, are, ironically, the only beings capable of defending life.
These stories are almost legendary classics among science fiction and have bred numerous reincarnations from Star Wars' Death Star to Star Trek's Borg. From Dr. Who to Babylon 5, these tales have been inspiration to the current generation of science fiction.
Unfortunately, Saberhagen's own talen's fail when tackling a longer format, and I cannot recommend the subsequent novels. This book though is pure gold.
on 4 October 1998
The new title is misleading, as is the copyright date. This book was originally published as "Berserkers" in 1967 and "The ultimate enemy" in 1979. I wouldn't have bought it if I had known I already had a copy under a different title. Now I will say that the book is a good read. It's very intense in parts and can be quite graffic. If you don't already have a copy, I recommend it.
on 7 July 1999
Berserkers are killing machines leftover from an interstellar war. Saberhagen's treatment of the theme has earned classic sf status. This omnibus volume combines Berserker and The Ultimate Enemy, which is not a bad thing of you don't have them. The most amazing thing to me is the astonishing leap from the initial appearance in a game-theory story (The Fortress Ship) to the emotional power of the second story, Goodlife, dealing with a boy raised by a Berserker ship. Avoiding formula, Saberhagen uses the stories to explore the boundary between life and non-life, most of the best stories keying on some essential gulf, in a couple instances, reserving the essential revelation to the last sentence. Try The Peacemaker or Patron of the Arts. The Johann Karlsen cycle is completed in the first volume, including the classic Stone Place, Mask of the Red Shift, In the Temple of Mars, and the Face of the Deep. The stories from Ultimate Enemy are linked only by the Berserkers themselves, but most are very good, and Wings Out of Shadow, The Game, Pressure, and What Do You Want Me to Do to Prove I'm Human Stop, are classics. My only criticism is that there are a couple of other short Berserker tales that could have been included to provide a complete ominbus of Berserker short fiction. One of my favorite SF series.
on 11 August 2011
If you haven't got any of the Berserker books get this one. As some say here i think the short stories can be duplicated in other compendiums, but this is the one to get. The stories are in time line order and it reads fast. In it you see Saberhagen describe the forefathers of the Death Star and the Borg. Once your done with this get Berserker Base which is also very good. I left it that as others have said that the novels are disappointing and i didn't want to spoil it after finding these to be so good.