This Week’s Book Review – Overruled

Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.

Book Review

Future Law Through the Science Fiction’s Lens


May 31, 2020

“Overruled,” edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, Baen Books, 2020, 437 pages, $16.00 (trade paperback)

There have been stories about lawyers and trials for as long as there have been lawyer jokes – maybe longer. So why would they not continue into the future? Why wait for that future to arrive before writing them?

“Overruled,” edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio, is a collection of science fiction tales about lawyers and trials. Lawyers appear in all of them; guns and money in many.

This book presents legal-themed science fiction short stories written over a seventy-year period; from the late 1940s through this year.  The result reveals a history of science fiction style by showcasing a series of entertaining stories.

There is something for virtually all tastes. Many of these tales are taken from series written by the contributors.  Arthur C. Clark’s piece comes from “Tales from the White Hart,” stories told by a narrator in an English pub. Susan Matthews has a story from her “Under Jurisdiction” series, Larry Correia from his “Monster Hunter” tales and Larry Niven from “Known Space.”

There are Golden Age gems, including Robert Heinlein’s “Jerry was a Man,” Clifford Simak’s engaging robot tale “How-2” and Algis Budrys’s chilling “The Executioner. It also contains stories by talented but now-forgotten writers of the 1950s and 1960s, including Louis Newman and Frank Riley.

Many stories tend towards the whimsical. Correia’s “Lawyer Fight,” Robert Sheckley’s “Skulking Permit” and Charles Sheffield’s “With the Knight Male” play the legal profession for a laugh. Others, Like Robert Silverberg’s “To See the Invisible Man,” and Sarah Hoyt and Laura Montgomery’s collaboration “License to Live” are tragedy or drama.

The contributors are an all-star cast. The story tellers include golden age giants like Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Clifford Simak, Robert Sheckley and Robert Silverberg. They also include modern heavyweights like Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt, Kevin J. Anderson, and Larry Niven.  As well there are tales by today’s up-and-coming authors, including Tom Kidd and Christopher Ruocchio.

The book offers a sampler of styles and subgenres within the intersection of law and science fiction. It may introduce you to new authors, and will introduce a spectrum of stories, old and new.

You may not like lawyers. You may not like legal entanglements. You may not like all of the stories in “Overruled.” Yet if you like science fiction, and are looking for entertaining reading, you will enjoy this latest collection of stories compiled by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio.

 Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, amateur historian, and model-maker, lives in League City. His website is


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