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I'm not sure if it was a shortish book or a novelette in an anthology, I read it in the UK about 2000.

There's a war going on between Earth colonised space and the alien menace, the main protagonist is out in his one-man fighter on routine patrol in a remote sector, then his scanners pick up an alien dreadnought, he yells for help on his FTL communicator and then dives in to attack with guns blazing and missiles firing.

When the squadron arrives they see a destroyed battleship with his craft buzzing around it, he's still pressing fire buttons but his magazines are empty. He's feted as a hero and given the top medal, now he can basically do what he wants.

He's eating in fancy places for free, if he wants a new car the dealers compete to donate their finest machines for the prestige. If he fancies a gorgeous married woman their husband bows and allows it, the woman gladly donates herself to his fun.

It transpires it's a fraud, Mr unscrupulous businessman stumbled across the derelict craft and hatched a plot, then worked through lots of files to find the right pilot who would play along and fake an attack. The businessmen can then use hero's influence for nefarious schemes.

Eventually the pilot takes a brave step, he arranges a private meet with Terran president and confesses all, the president sorts all by getting something (I can't remember) to happen to bad businessman. He then tells fighter pilot that Earth needs military heroes so he'll have to play the role for life.

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    There is a similar book by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, that is called "Will save galaxy for food". But there are too many differences for it to be the case. Space fighter pilot = check. Pretending to be legend= check. Unscrupulous businessman = check. Fake attack by aliens= check. But the plot is different, with unscrupulous businessman hiring the nobody pilot to pretend to be a legendary one so he can take businessman's son to space ride, because son is a huge fan of legendary pilot.
    – jo1storm
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 10:51
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    Vaguely reminiscent of Galactic Medal of Valor by Mack Reynolds but I don't have the details to hand.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 12:35
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    @Paulie_D I've downloaded that book and it is indeed the one I was seeking - please post as an answer and I'll accept: cheers
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 17:30
  • Yes this is Galactic Medal of Valor by Mack Reynolds
    – NJohnny
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 18:21

1 Answer 1

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Galactic Medal of Honor by Mack Reynolds

A blurb from Fantastic Fiction

It was the highest and most coveted award of all time. It was given to only the bravest among those defending Earth from the mysterious Kradens. Many had sacrificed their lives for it. The current bearer of the medal became the idol of all mankind - a man above the law, a man who would never want for anything. One man was going to cheat to win it - and live to regret it.

This was an expanded version of Medal of Honor, appearing in Amazing, Nov. 1960

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  • You're sure it's "Valor" and not "Honor?" I only find "Galactic Medal of Honor" listed on ISFDb. It's also a full novel, only printed standalone, not matching an anthology entry.
    – DavidW
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 22:06
  • Answer updated. The base story was expanded from a short story to a longer novel.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 22:35
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    I think, based on the amount (and specifics) of plot in the description that this is actually the short story "Medal of Honor" on which Galactic Medal of Honor was based. It was published in Amazing, November 1960, anthologized in Space-Fighters (1988).
    – DavidW
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 22:36

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