Killer AI: Final Thoughts on Brother Assassin

I don’t have a lot more to say about Brother Assassin.

The book is well-paced, broken up into three sequential story segments. Normally time travel stories can pretty easily develop into something of a tangled clusterfark, but I found Saberhagen’s approach quite engaging. In each part, the berserkers adjust their strategy to affect history in a different way, with the human defenders scrambling to guess the nature and target of the attacks.

The protagonist is no John Carter or James Bond, but he’s interesting enough to carry the story, and at least he’s got an arch in a book that’s largely focused on something much grander than any single character.

More than anything, this series has really reinforced for me that once you start down this rabbit hole of exploring older SFF, you notice that the stuff you thought was really cool and unique…well, it may be cool, but it’s probably not as unique as you think.

Saberhagen’s Berserker books may not have been a direct influence upon some more modern scifi franchises, but if they weren’t then there are some amazing similarities.


  1. Never read the Berserker stuff. And the only Saberhagen book I’ve ever read was about were-bears. It wasn’t very memorable.

    But that juxtaposition of images: X-wings attacking the Death Star/ Saberhagen cover…

    My mind: Blown.

    • His Berserker stuff is the only of his I’ve read so far. Appendix N name drops a book from another series of his, so I’m hoping he has a lot of other good stories out there. But of course some stuff is bound to fizzle.

  2. He didn’t hit a home run every time, but Saberhagen is definitely worth a look. I enjoyed his Dracula and Ardneh books as well as his Berzerker stuff.

    • Have you read the Empire of the East or Swords books, John?

      Changling Earth is name-dropped specifically in Appendix N, and apparently it’s part of the EoE series? Want to get to that eventually. Meanwhile I have a collection of the Swords books, but also apparently it’s in the same universe but sequential to the EoE series. So I’m not sure if I’ll just check it out or hunt down the other books first.

  3. I have read the Empire of the East and I heartily recommend it. I have not read all of the Swords books, but I enjoyed the ones that I did read (the first three or four books in the series).

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