Reviewed: 2015-01-14 - (Review Updated: 2016-04-27)
First, let me say that I hope you read both orangeade's and fuzzywuzzy's review of this story, two reviewers whose opinions I highly respect, in that I haven't disagreed yet with a review of theirs that I've read. In fact, I use both of their list of stories reviewed as a source of other good stories to explore.
Ok. Back to Any Soldier. I consider this story to be in the top 10 of the some 250 stories that Bob has published here. I like the way this story celebrates the individual. SSGT Robert Calhoun Hickory, the male protagonist, is an everyman kind of guy. Just a plain, average Midwesterner that seems to populate the military. Nothing special. But that's what makes this story so extraordinary to me. It's how an average, every day American deals with a huge, unfeeling government bureaucracy after losing a leg in service to his country. And finding that individuals in that vast, desolate desert of said bureaucracy can actually do something right and good. Watch for Command Sergeant Major Beck, a character that tickles the soul of any veteran.
The main female protagonist, Julia Miller, is typical of many of Lubrican's female protagonists --- unassuming and so soft outside, but with a skeleton of titanium and a will that's a force of nature when awakened. It was hard to not fall a little in love with her. She reminds one a lot of Brenda in The Last Wish Blues, another of the top 10 Lubrican stories if you're not familiar with his work here at SOL.
While celebrating the individual, Lubrican also celebrates the couple. Their love story is unique. But, then, I guess all love stories IRL actually are. Nothing is preordained. But I liked the feeling of inevitability that the reading evoked. Like you're traipsing though it and KNOW what's coming around the bend. But the fun part is that you're not always correct. There are twists and turns in this relationship that made the exploration of it with SSGT Hickory and Brenda a mini adventure in discovery.
I believe that other readers may disagree with me in my assessments. I can only tell you why the story appealed to me. Lubrican handled the story of Hickory's disability with simpatico while not getting maudlin about it. It was more of an "Okay, I have a problem but let's get on with the rest of my life" attitude coming through that made the ending so pleasing. And all the intervening parts, for that matter.
Finally, a lot of stories (as this one is) are available only to Premier Members at SOL. This I have no problem with, as good writing should be rewarded, which is the purpose of Premier Membership as I understand it. The 'net may have been the Wild West with everything free when it first formed but things evolve, folks. And, while I'm not trying to be a shill for SOL, I believe the membership is worth the cost. Kindle sure as hell won't give you such inexpensive reading.
10s all around on this one, in case anyone really needs be told. Lubrican is a wordsmith par excellance and his editor(s) is first rate. It's a pleasure to read a story with the quality (in that respect) you'd expect from a hardcover book.
Just when I was starting to believe that the only kinds of erotica old soldiers liked to write was "cheating wives" stories, Lubrican presents us with "Any Soldier," a very sweet, very frustrating love story carried on while weaving through the trials and tribulations of the military bureaucracy.
We're all familiar with red tape in the military, the maddening journey through a process that demands playing everything by the book, even when two "facts" seem to contradict each other. One always senses that veterans feel a certain affection for the culture that brought us Catch-22, SNAFU and FUBAR. Perhaps that comes from a sense that dealing with such problems is an experience shared by all who serve. I'm not qualified to make that judgement, but Lubrican, a veteran of the Gulf War and an accomplished storyteller, is a reliable guide on this journey.
But the heart of the story is the relationship between Staff Sergeant Robert Hickory, serving in Iraq as the tale begins, and Julia Miller, a young elementary school teacher who has her class write the "any soldier" mail that ends up being delivered to Hickory.
Their path to being together is fraught with difficulties, with a little luck and the occasional sympathetic aid in the system required for things to work out. Lubrican actually pulls his punches a little, even after setting up potential "Uh oh!" scenarios.
Best of all is Julia, a typical Lubrican heroine with whom you'll certainly fall in love. She's reasonably inexperienced at the outset of the story, but is all heart, and her passion for her man is fierce and emotional.
Does a final screw-up in military procedure ruin things for Robert and Julia, or actually provide a happy ending? You'll have to find out for yourself. What I can tell you is that someone ends up pregnant. This is a Lubrican story, after all . . .
Reviewed: 2010-10-01 - (Review Updated: 2013-08-07)
There are love stories, there are sexy love stories, and there are very, very, sexy love stories.
There are War stories, there are very sexy war stories. There are School Teacher stories, and there are very sexy stories about Teachers. And there are Army stories about Beaurocratic Army stories.
And so Uncle Bob gives us A very sexy love story about an Amp Sgt( left leg below the knee) who falls in love with a Sexy School Teacher, gets her pregnant, and can't remember who or where his sister is, and when it is his turn to get out of Walter Reed Hospital, all hell breaks loose.
So there it is in a nutshell, I think. Enjoy, I did!
Now that SOL has removed Sex from the Vote, I'll have to score it myself.
Sex Appeal score 1 to 10: I give it #15. So there.