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Plot Details/Summary

This one is going to be a real longshot. I've only read a couple parts of the story, and I only remember a couple of moments from those parts of the tale. Hopefully they will be memorable enough for it to be identified.

The protagonist in the story is a human female soldier who fights on various planets as part of mankind's ongoing military campaign (against who or what, I do not remember). She wears advanced, powered combat armor and carries very advanced weaponry.

I also recall that the protagonist may have been gay. It sticks in my mind she has a girlfriend who is a fellow soldier, though assigned to a different vessel, and they spend long periods of time away from each other. I believe there was a paragraph where the protagonist arrives at a base/starport, and finds out her partner shipped out just a few hours earlier.

The first specific detail I can remember is a battle where the protagonist is seriously wounded. She is hit in the lower leg by a powerful enemy weapon. The weapon's blast penetrates her armor, and mangles the lower leg off just below the knee. Her powered armor immediately activates its triage protocols. A razor-sharp iris-valve located in the mid-thigh amputates her ruined lower leg, while other systems inject her with painkillers and other medicines to keep her from going into shock. I believe that is the final scene in the first part of the story I read.

The second detail I recall comes from the second part I read. The protagonist is sunning herself on the beach with her partner, both of them enjoying a couple weeks worth of shore leave. The docs have grown her a new leg. The protagonist states she still has some therapy to do before she gets full use of the limb back, but that she will be back in the fight soon enough.

Timeframe of Publication

I'm thinking this one is from the 1970s. I remember reading both parts in a couple of old sci-fi magazines that my dad had picked up at a used book store. It might have come out in the early 80s, but no more recent that that, IIRC. I don't think it would been published earlier than the 1970s.

marked as duplicate by eshier, Edlothiad, Ward, Bellatrix, Mithrandir Feb 18 '18 at 17:50

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    A lot of the details (losing a leg, recovery on a beach) sound like the classic Joe Haldeman book "The Forever War", but the main character's a male in that (it does posit homosexuality becoming the norm in humanity's future, but the main character remains staunchly hetero) – starpilotsix Mar 18 '17 at 0:34
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    A few other potentially matching details... it was originally serialized in Analog magazine in 1974, and the protaganist's love interest's NAME was MaryGAY, allowing for generous memory corruption, could be part of the issue. – starpilotsix Mar 18 '17 at 0:39
  • @starpilotsix. It sounds like I may have misremembered the story somewhat, or possibly am mixing it up with another story I read around that time. Haldeman's book seems a strong possibility. The timeframe (mid-70s) and the leg/beach details all fit. – Helbent IV Mar 18 '17 at 0:41
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Some of this sounds like The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1974)

The first specific detail I can remember is a battle where the protagonist is seriously wounded. She is hit in the lower leg by a powerful enemy weapon. The weapon's blast penetrates her armor, and mangles the lower leg off just below the knee. Her powered armor immediately activates its triage protocols. A razor-sharp iris-valve located in the mid-thigh amputates her ruined lower leg, while other systems inject her with painkillers and other medicines to keep her from going into shock.

The suit is set up to save as much of your body as possible. If you lose part of an arm or a leg, one of sixteen razor-sharp irises closes around your limb with the force of a hydraulic press, snipping it off neatly and sealing the suit before you can die of explosive decompression. Then "trauma maintenance" cauterizes the stump, replaces lost blood, and fills you full of happy-juice and No-shock. So you will either die happy or, if your comrades go on to win the battle, eventually be carried back up to the ship's aid station.

The second detail I recall comes from the second part I read. The protagonist is sunning herself on the beach with her partner, both of them enjoying a couple weeks worth of shore leave. The docs have grown her a new leg. The protagonist states she still has some therapy to do before she gets full use of the limb back, but that she will be back in the fight soon enough.

"Gonna hurt like a sonuvabitch. Wait'll the nerves start to grow." "Nerves?" "Sure." He was fiddling with the machine, reading dials on the other side. "How you gonna have a leg without nerves? It'd just sit there." "Nerves? Like regular nerves? You mean I can just think 'move' and the thing moves?"

As the days went by, the therapy became less like torture and more like strenuous exercise. We both began swimming for an hour or so every clear day, in the calm, pressor guarded water off the beach. I still limped on land, but in the water I could get around pretty well.

  • This has to be it. I'm not sure why I had it my mind the protagonist was a female. The excellent details you've provided in your answer fit perfectly with what I remembered (or, remembered correctly, anyway). – Helbent IV Mar 18 '17 at 1:45

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