Review of “Intro to Intergalactic Conflicts 101: A Course Summary” by Robert Douglas Friedman

Assyrian stone relief from the temple of Ninurta, god of war (among other thing) at Kalhu, showing the god with his thunderbolts pursuing Anzû, who has stolen the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil’s sanctuary (Austen Henry Layard Monuments of Nineveh, 2nd Series, 1853) from Wikipedia


There is no plot to this story. There is merely an overview—in the form of a course outline— of a centuries-old conflict of uncertain origin. (“[W]e remain certain that our cause is just.”) The enemy “lacks common sense, courage, religion, and access to a decent dry cleaning service.” To make matters worse, the enemy has green skin.

The outline contains a section of war profiteering, comments on the effectiveness of torture, and, of course, “our goal.”


This is (surprise) an absurdist anti-war statement. While it contains some cute elements, I personally found it, sad to say, tedious overall. I liked the anti-racist touch. Perhaps that’s in part because I dislike the device of using a form like a class outline instead of telling a story. The anti-war sentiment and the feeling of absurdity about war are ones I share.

I realize this is all incredibly subjective, and the piece may leave another reader in hysterics. I wish I could recommend this because there are bright spots (e.g., Conshohocken, Pennsylvania), but I cannot.


According to his blurb, author Robert Douglas Friedman’s fiction and humor have appeared in Story Quarterly, The Satirist, Cosmos, Humor Times, The Writing Disorder, The New York Review of Science Fiction, (something I don’t imagine is easy to do) and many other publications. He lives and works in New Jersey.

The piece can be read here

Title: “Intro to Intergalactic Conflicts 101: A Course Summary”
Author: Robert Douglas Friedman
First published: Daily Science Fiction, June 8, 2020

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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