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Genetic general.jpg
1st edition cover
Author Gordon R. Dickson
Country United States
Language English
Series Childe Cycle
Genre Military Science Fiction
Publisher Ace Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 159
Followed by Necromancer

Dorsai! is the first published book of the incomplete Childe Cycle series of science fiction novels by Gordon R. Dickson. While it is the first book published in the series, later books are set both before and after the events in Dorsai!.

The novel was originally published in serialized form in Astounding Science Fiction, starting in May, 1959. A shorter, revised version was published in paperback by Ace in 1960 under the title The Genetic General. A re-edited and expanded version of the novel was published under its original serialized title, Dorsai!, by DAW in 1976. This version of the novel was reissued as one half of an omnibus edition, Dorsai Spirit by Tor in 2002, The other novel contained in Dorsai Spirit is The Spirit of Dorsai (originally published 1979).


The book is about Donal Graeme, warrior extraordinaire. In the Childe Cycle universe, the human race has split into a number of splinter cultures. Donal is a member of the Dorsai, a splinter culture based on the planet of the same name, which has specialized in producing the very best soldiers. Since each splinter culture specializes in a specific area of expertise, a system of trade labour contracts between the cultures allows each planet to hire the expertise they need. The Dorsai, inhabiting a resource-poor world, hire themselves out as mercenaries to other planetary governments. Donal has great ambitions, and the book follows his rise in an episodic manner. The book begins as a straightforward tale of his career and then becomes something else, as it becomes clear there is something different about Donal Graeme himself.

Characters in Dorsai![edit]

Literary significance and criticism[edit]

Dorsai! is an influential part of the genre of military science fiction. The novel, as part of the Childe Cycle series, still has a strong following within the science fiction community, as evidenced by the continuing activity of the Dorsai Irregulars, and the 1999 filk album, Shai Dorsai. In the foreword of later editions, the novel is said to have explored the role of a commander the way Starship Troopers explored the role of a trooper.

Much of the criticism regarding Dorsai! is of characteristics said to be typical for science fiction books of the era, including "wooden dialog and rampant misogyny."[1][2]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Release details[edit]


  1. ^ Landon, Justin (2013). "Round-up of older titles read recently (and one new one)". Staffer's Book Review. Retrieved August 30, 2015. 
  2. ^ Nashville Book Worm (November 10, 2008). "Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson". Retrieved August 30, 2015. Dorsai! does have a lot of other issues. For one thing, the characters are extremely wooden and the dialogue a bit stilted. ... And if you're looking for some strong female characters, this is not the book for you. The universe here is extremely misogynistic. And there are some odd overtones, especially when woman after woman throws herself at Donal, only for himself to truly be his best around the men, esp. his servant, Lee. 
  3. ^ 1960 Hugo Awards, retrieved December 5, 2010