Honourable Enemies

Honourable Enemies by Cora BuhlertOnce, Colonel Brian Mayhew was the deputy commander of the Republican Special Commando Forces. But now he’s gone AWOL to take out crime lord Rick Santerna, the man who murdered his family.

Mayhew’s quest for vengeance brings him to the rim world of Maciste, where he runs into his former protégé Mikhail Grikov, now wanted as a traitor and deserter for eloping with enemy soldier Anjali Patel.

Mayhew knows that it’s his duty to bring in Mikhail and Anjali. But with Santerna hot his tail, he finds that he needs their help.

Mikhail and Anjali know that Brian Mayhew is a threat to their freedom and their new life together. But now they are faced with a hard choice. Should they risk their lives to help a man who could condemn them both to death or should they let Mayhew die in the Great Arena of Maciste?

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More information:

  • This is a short novel of 57000 words or approx. 200 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • Honourable Enemies began its life as a story intended for a military science fiction anthology called The Renegade. Now Mikhail and Anjali are renegades anyway, so I thought, “What would it take to make Colonel Brian Mayhew turn renegade?” and began writing. However, it quickly became clear that the story was too long for a short story.
  • Gladiatorial fights have a long and proud tradition in space opera. I have long wanted to write a gladiator fight scene in an In Love and War story. And this is how the Great Arena of Maciste came to be.
  • The planet Maciste was named after the hero of many an Italian sword and sandal epic. I mainly knew the character of Maciste from the 1960s sword and sandal films, which were a TV staple during my youth, but it turns out that the character has much older roots and goes back all the way to the silent era.
  • The film character of Maciste first appeared in 1914 in a historical epic called Cabiria, which was written by none other than Gabriele D’Annunzio himself. Cabiria eventually became the name of the capital of Maciste.
  • The actor who portrayed the character of Maciste in all his silent film appearances was named Bartolomeo Pangano and was a dockworker before his film career. I borrowed his name for the Arena champion (who also used to be a dockworker) whom Mayhew eventually defeats. And in fact, all Arena fighters Mayhew faces are named after actors who played Maciste in various movies.
  • Long after I’d finished the story, I realised that it shared a title with a 1951 Dominic Flandry novelette by Poul Anderson. I know that I must have read the novelette at one point, because I own the collection Dominic Flandry: Agent of the Terran Empire, in which it was reprinted. But after more than twenty years, I remember very little about the story. Did I subconsciously remember the title of the Poul Anderson story or did I come up with it independently? I have no idea, though I decided to go with the title in the end.
  • The cover is once again stock art by the talented Thai artist Tithi Luadthong a.k.a. Grandfailure.
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