In 1987- 1988 I was stationed in Bamberg, Germany.
At our local AAFES-run Book Store was a series of SF novellas by (I’m guessing) a small, independent publisher.
I remember reading three of four of them and enjoying them, but the only story I recall somewhat clearly was about a tramp spacer whose homeworld had a massive geo-catastrophe (think of something along the lines of what was depicted in the movie 2012, but without the happy ending) and his entire family was killed.
He found out that the planetary leadership had known all along about the (then-pending) catastrophe and did nothing to warn the populace, but made sure that they, and their families and cronies, all got out alive, with fortunes intact.
This sets him out on a course of revenge, with a bit of a twist ending: the now-exiled former planetary leaders are outcasts, pariahs, for their cowardly and self-serving actions.
Does anyone remember these novellas? Their names, publisher, etc?
Let’s get some extra information so we can begin narrowing down the possibilities. Are you saying that these four novellas were all in the same book, or were they each their own book? Had the book or books just been published, or were they old at the time? How old? Was it paperback or hardback? What did the cover look like? Was it published in the U.S.? I don’t know how AAFES book stores work. Are they used book stores or new book stores? How did the books get in those stores? If it was a used book store, are you saying that an American soldier bought the book in the U.S. and brought it with him to Germany, where he donated or sold it to the bookstore?
AAFES stocks (or used to stock) new books and magazines, but the selection was extremely random. There’s generally also a thrift store on the base/post, which is where everyone donates most of the stuff that they don’t want to move when they get assigned to another base/post.
The stories sound very vaguely familiar. I keep thinking of the Tuf series by George R. R. Martin, in which a rather eccentric man finds a spaceship which is also a biological labaratory. Tuf voyages around the local star systems, basically as a biological fix it guy.
Tuf doesn’t like to be touched by humans, loves his kitty cats, is quite fond of fungi, and is a strict vegetarian. He does provide animal protein for his cats. but when he agrees to serve as a passenger carrier, he expects his passengers to eat the same vegetarian diet as he does.
I THINK that these stories might have been in multi-author anthologies before Martin gathered them into a book.
You can find here a list of all the Tuf stories. You can see all the places they appeared by clicking on each of them. I’m always surprised when someone relatively familiar with science fiction doesn’t try this database when they know the name or title. This is one of the greatest databases on the Internet:
The OP’s description doesn’t match the Tuf stories at all. His family is never mentioned, IIRC. Nor do any of the stories feature a group that got away with anything. Haviland Tuf did not traffic in revenge.
These were new paperback books, but due to the AAFES overseas delay-factor, they may have been in-print for a year or so before hitting the AAFES bookshelves. They may or may not have been published in the U.S., but I do think that they were.
They were all separate books, I can’t recall if they were from the same author or not. There may have been more than the 3-4 books I recall; I got the impression they may have been part of a larger series from the publisher, but not an anthology.
Can’t recall too much about the cover art, except that I’m pretty sure that they were all done by the same artist (due to the style). For sci-fi cover art, it was pretty decent; I know that’s not very descriptive or helpful, just a 25 year old impression.
I do remember that I first saw them on the bookshelves around Nov/Dec 1988.
Sorry I can’t be of more help than that.
ETA: I don’t think it was one of the larger publishers that put these out, but a smaller one.
After that build up, I feel bad that I can’t recognize these off the top of my head! However, I do have a suggestion. Could they be part of the German SF series “Perry Rhodan” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Rhodan - translated into English of course.