In the late 1990s/early 2000s I read a story in a sci-fi anthology about a soldier who participates in a drop-assault battle on the Moon. IIRC, the assault force deploys via dropship in the Sea of Tranquility and is assaulting the heights where the enemy is.

One side is described as "rebels" but I cannot recall which. All the infantry wear powered armor and the main character's suit is incapacitated early in the fight, leaving him without his IFF beacon and the ability to communicate. His suit's damage protects him from being targeted by incoming missiles as there's nothing for them to home in on.

He watches in horror as the battle unfolds in front of him until the battle ends, his air runs out, and he dies. Afterwards his suit of powered armor, the only intact and upright suit on the field, is used as a war memorial for the battle.

The quote that sticks out at me is the last line (?) of the story, where the author says they would have placed an eternal flame at the site of the memorial but, "nothing burns on the Moon."

I can't remember anything else about the anthology it was in except that the anthology was fairly recent at the time of purchase.

1 Answer 1


This is Allan Steele's 1995 story "The War Memorial," first published in Asimov's, September 1995 and reprinted in various collections afterward. Based on the timing and the subject you most likely read it in the 1999 anthology Future War (ed. Dunn, Dozois).

Cover of "Future War"

The trooper, Giordano, is stranded when his suit crashes:

At that instant, everything goes dark again, just like it did when the shrapnel from the dropship hit the back of his suit.

This time, though, it stays dark.

A red LCD lights above his forehead, telling him that there's been a total system crash.

Cursing, he finds the manual override button and stabs it with his little finger. As anticipated, it causes the computer to completely reboot itself; he hears servomotors grind within the carapace as its limbs move into neutral position, until his boots are planted firmly on the ground and his arms are next to his sides, his rifle pointed uselessly at the ground.

There is a dull click from somewhere deep within the armor, then silence.

Except for the red LCD, everything remains dark.

Combat moves on, leaving him behind and his air runs out. The victors return finding the suit with his corpse in it, but leave it as a memorial:

So they leave him standing.

They do not remove the CAS from its place, nor do they attempt to prise the man from his armor. Instead, they erect a circle of stones around the Valkyrie. Later, when peace has been negotiated and lunar independence has been achieved, a small plaque is placed at his feet.

The marker bears no name. Because so many lives were lost during the battle, nobody can be precisely certain of who was wearing this particular CAS on that particular day.

An eternal flame might have been placed at his feet, but it can't, because nothing burns on the Moon.

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