Keith Laumer’s Retief’s War (the third book and the first novel in the Retief series) was serialized in Worlds of If Science Fiction in 1965 with a cool wrap-around cover by Jack Gaughan. Retief’s War has been published in paperback numerous times (I picked the TIMESCAPE cover done by Rowena and the Wayne Barlowe cover on the BAEN Books editions because there’s such a contrast between them).

James Retief seeks to unite the hostile Quoppian tribes for the sake of Earth’s security and diplomacy. But first, Retief must first foil the destructive plans of the evil Groaci. In the process, Retief encounters a beautiful princess whose space yacht has crashed. Pure SF fun! GRADE: B+


 1. Envoy to New Worlds (1963)
   2. Galactic Diplomat (1965)
   3. Retief’s War (1965)
   4. Retief and the Warlords (1968)
   5. Retief: Ambassador to Space (1969)
   6. Retief of the CDT (1971)
   7. Retief’s Ransom (1971)
     aka Retief and the Pangalactic Pageant of Pulchritude
   8. Retief: Emissary to the Stars (1975)
   9. Retief at Large (1978)
   10. Retief Unbound (1979)
   11. Diplomat at Arms (1982)
   12. Retief to the Rescue (1983)
   13. The Return of Retief (1984)
   14. Retief in the Ruins (1986)
   15. Reward for Retief (1989)
Retief of the Red-Tape Mountain (1962)
The Frozen Planet (1966)
Retief and the Rascals (1993)
Retief! (2001)
Gambler’s World (2009)
The Yillian Way (2009)
The Governor of Glave (2020)
Aide Memoire (2020)
Saline Solution (2020)

15 thoughts on “FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #633: RETIEF’S WAR By Keith Laumer

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I’ve been in a Retief mood lately. Fast reads and fun! But I advise everyone NOT to read Keith Laumer works published after Laumer had his stroke in 1971. That stroke affected Laumer’s writing ability…in a Bad Way.

  1. Todd Mason

    For me, it’s been scattered short stories so far, including his collaboration with Harlan Ellison, “Wonderbird” (with the two endings…both pretty good) which was my first.

    Cele Goldsmith Lalli on “discovering” Laumer via his brother, March Laumer (who signed the anti-Vietnam War petition in the GALAXY magazines and F&SF, when KL was still in government service and probably felt restricted from signing the anti or the pro).

    1. george Post author

      Todd, thanks for the links! Cele Goldsmith was one of my favorite editors. She managed to make AMAZING and FANTASTIC way better than the limitations of their small budgets.

    1. george Post author

      Todd, WORDPRESS has a moderation issue with Cap’n Bob, too. I’m hoping Patrick can fix these issues when he comes home in May.

  2. Michael Padgett

    OK, I’m gonna ask. What does “moderation” mean? To take Todd’s comment, it’s there, on the page. I read it. It’s also been responded to. So what’s left?

    I can recall reading a few Retief stories and, for some reason, I confuse him with Poul Anderson’s Dominic Flandry. But that was long ago. I agree completely with you on Cele Goldsmith. Other magazines probably had better stories, but it was Goldsmith’s two magazines that I most looked forward to.

    1. Todd Mason

      it means George had to make an effort to allow it to be visible. And since the notification system of most blogging software isn’t Too reliable, it seemed useful to post another note that alerted George to the fact of my held-back comment…

  3. Todd Mason

    More Laumer trivia–Stephen Colbert is a fan…and in his current set, a faked-up version of his office, the bookshelf in the back has among other titles the last issue of the Ultimate reprint magazine THRILLING SF, which features a Laumer reprint from the Goldsmith/Lalli years.

    Michael, you might like Barry Malzberg’s interview with Goldsmith Lalli at the first link, above…

    1. Michael Padgett

      Thanks, Todd. I’ve been wondering about that for a while and kept hoping some other dummy would ask. I’ll check out the interview.

  4. Todd Mason

    Also, Charles Platt’s DREAM MAKERS includes his interview with Laumer, which includes how easily his rage could be triggered in his post-stroke years. One of the more poignant facts of the interview essay was the collection of junked cars in his yard Laumer used as a goad to himself to manage somehow to regain full able-bodied status, so he could refurbish them all.

  5. wolf

    One might also mention the Bolo series about those “Intelligent” tanks – a kind of artificial intelligence.
    I was always happy when I found a story by Laumer in the magazines.


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