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Red Claw (Debatable Space)

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  354 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Philip Palmer turns science fiction on its head in this breathtaking thrill ride through alien jungles filled with terrifying monsters and killer robots. Space marines and science heroes Gryphons and Godzillas It's all here in this gripping tale of man versus nature.
Paperback, 451 pages
Published 2009 by Orbit (first published August 11th 2008)
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mark monday
Sep 15, 2013 mark monday rated it really liked it
Recommended to mark by: TK421
from the Earth Journal of Scientific Analyst SLJLK92349UO, Earth Invasion Exploratory Unit

as much as I would like to extend my dismay towards Goodreads' new policy of censorship by posting solely on the much less offensive BookLikes, my programming will unfortunately not allow me to restrict the sharing of good things to the human kind. Red Claw is a good thing! a very, very good thing. if you are of a science fictional bent, I strongly encourage you to read this thrilling, inventive and exceedi
Aug 26, 2010 TK421 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Wow. (I’m not sure if that is a good wow or a bad wow.) Where do I begin with this novel? Let’s start by saying this novel is a postmodernist’s wet dream of a book. It implores various voices of storytelling: first-person diary; third-person omniscient and detached narrator; even the author’s voice enters the narrative. The writing style tries to be both noir and science fiction. (Surprisingly, this sort-of works.) There are footnotes that give additional insights to the psychology of the charac ...more
May 17, 2010 Travis rated it did not like it
Shelves: reviewed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jesse Bullington
Jan 10, 2010 Jesse Bullington rated it it was amazing
Short review: Just about everything I love about SF crammed into a fast-paced, gripping, and at times hilariously nasty adventure.

Slightly longer review that's still short as I am, myself, short on time: Red Claw is the best SF I've read in a very long time--smart, sharp, topical, engaging, and, above all, a helluva lot of fun. Right out of the gate Palmer subverts the beguilingly simple premise of scientists and soldiers fighting for survival on a hostile alien world with a crackling sense of d
Sep 22, 2009 Liviu rated it it was amazing
A standalone "expedition, planet with monsters, rogue soldiers and the like" novel, it is a step back from the panache and ambition of the author's debut Debatable Spaces; good but nothing special since I read way too many "Planet with monsters" books to be impressed and the literary bent of the novel leads sometimes to an unwieldy mix;

David Drake's Redliners to which Red Claw has some similarities (though Drake's is a militaristic take, while here, well gotta read it to see the scorn and fun P.
Robert C.
Jul 02, 2013 Robert C. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
..a rip-roaring monster of a book that I only picked up because it caught my eye as I was leaving a library, mostly for its awful cover and you know when you pick up a book intending just to turn to a randam place and read a few lines and see how you feel about it, well I did that and it grabbed me so hard that I stood there reading the first 67 pages and was late home for dinner and everything, but the point is that its an immediate book in that it sucks you in and never lets you out or down ri ...more
Oct 01, 2013 Derek rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf, wont-read, military
There was just so much wrong with this book that I not only couldn't finish it, I barely got started.

First, the science is horrible. As I like to say, I'm not a biologist, I only play one on the Internet, but I've been working with Taxonomists for over a decade, and I just can't believe that a new discovery on an alien planet would be described as:

Kingdom: Plantae or Animalia, maybe
Phylum: Spermatophyta???
Class: Don't know
Order: Can't tell
Family: Have no notion whatsoever
Genus: Fragoarbor
Carolyn  Storer
After reading the synopsis I was really looking forward to immersing myself in this book. Sadly it didn't quite deliver. It did keep my attention and some of the passages were exciting, but the characterisation was underdeveloped for my taste and there were several points that as a woman, hit a nerve.

There are many personalities that we are introduced to and for me there were too many. The main two are Sorcha, a focused, driven and if somewhat brainwashed soldier whose sole purpose is to serve a
Mar 15, 2017 Helen rated it liked it
What I liked:

Robots. Killer robots. Future tech. This makes me happy.

The funny dialogue - it's like what people are actually saying to each other when you strip away all the fluff. I had a few little laughs at it.

It's fast paced, and it stayed interesting. Just as I started to get bored something happened and everything was thrown up in the air.

I also found it easy to read, in fact, a couple of times I lost track of time reading it on my lunch break and had to rush back to work.

No one is safe,
P.A. Fenton
Sep 02, 2011 P.A. Fenton rated it it was amazing
There are a lot of things I liked about Philip Palmer’s novel “Red Claw”.

I liked the stereotypical concept of humans colonising a distant planet, executed with tongue so firmly poked into cheek it must have left a bruise; but that’s not what I liked best.

I liked the “Lost in Space” kind of story told with a “From Dusk till Dawn” delight for making people go crunch and r-r-rip and sploosh, often in several different directions at once; but that’s not what I liked best.

I liked the setting, a plan
Eddie Dobiecki
Jul 28, 2013 Eddie Dobiecki rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is the second Philip Palmer book I've read. I haven't read his first or his most recent (as of this writing, he only has 4 out). So I'm working off of having read Version 43 first, and now Redclaw.

And I can say this: I really want to like his novels more than I do. I mean, don't get me wrong, they're enjoyable reads. No major complaints on that front. They certainly aren't, to me, boring, though some might disagree with me, and I do think there were a couple parts of this book, in particul
Simon Ford
Mar 24, 2016 Simon Ford rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 01, 2009 Lindsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two things to note on this one: First—Amazing; Second: Not a kids book by any means. Normally I wouldn’t review a book that was clearly more for adults than for tweens or teens, but there was something particularly special about Palmer’s imaginative world. There were Godzillas, Cyclops, people running around in full-body space suit things, and tons more.

So this is why I chose to review it here, other than that it was awesome: it reminds me of when I was a kid, playing with toys and imagining wor
Tim S.
Mar 01, 2010 Tim S. rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Take a modern comic book -- full of excessive ultra-violence, high concepts, flawed superhuman heroes and villains, and unabashed silliness -- then add a dash of black humor and a surprising smidgeon of genuine pathos, and you get a Philip Palmer novel. I personally felt RED CLAW was a little more focused than DEBATABLE SPACE, avoiding the overlong narrative asides of that one and its jarring leaps through time, while even managing to show some heart (blood, ventricles, and all) along the way.

William Gerke
Nov 29, 2009 William Gerke rated it it was ok
I started RED CLAW thinking it was pulp roller-coaster with a unique style. I ended feeling like it was a decent book, containing some interesting ideas, but hampered by erratic writing. I was disappointed, because I wanted to really enjoy it, and I found that I did not.

Point of view shifts at whim. Pacing stutters, stops, stutters, and roars. The day-by-day, blow-by-blow approach enhances the man vs. nature survival elements, but leads to an awkward flow. Characters come and go, live and die, a
David Agranoff
I have very mixed feelings on this book. A part of me really liked it. It is a bold novel in many ways. Seeming on some levels it seems to be a gonzo tongue in cheek version of Avatar. The text breaks lots of rules. First person journal entires with footnotes, Third person action, present tense, past tense…the writing style is kinda of a mess.

A pretty and often inventive mess I was laughing often and entertained reading it.
The novel takes place on a hostile jungle world called New Amazon. The m
Aug 04, 2013 Elana rated it really liked it
This is one of the strangest SF books I've read (and this is saying much!) It's written in annoying little snippets and the narrator's tone is dry, sarcastic and occasionally juvenile - what I's describe as the Dr. Who kind of humor. Nevertheless, it's quite engaging and at the end, surprisingly intelligent. The biosphere of New Amazon is wonderfully described. I'm a sucker for alien biospheres - just give me monsters, the weirder the better - and I'm happy. Palmer delivers and in the process ra ...more
Aug 04, 2012 Meagan rated it really liked it
This is the second book I've read by Philip Palmer, the first being Version 43 (which I liked even more than this book), and I really like his style of writing. He conceals things and reveals things well, though at the beginning I was frustrated by a lack of explanation about the planet the novel is set on. I still wish there were more of an explanation about the planet, even though that was not the point of the book, it would've been interesting to have my theories confirmed or changed.

The char
Apr 04, 2010 Christopher rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Much better than Debatable Space, especially without the incredibly long personal journals (there are personal journals in this, too, but they're much briefer). Some might get confused if they haven't read Debatable Space, since this has quite a few references to it, takes place in the same universe (it sometimes suggests itself as a prequel), and a couple of times mentions characters from the novel. Debatable Space's biggest problem was inconsistency and the overly frequent and lengthy personal ...more
Peter Walton-Jones
Feb 05, 2011 Peter Walton-Jones rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This story is a science fiction riot on the senses. It is set on a planet about to be terra-formed...we are doing that pretty regularly in Palmer's future....But terraforming involves complete destruction of the life on the planet so the scientists are there "salvaging" the lifeforms for the zoological record. The soldiers are there for protection, ...right, ...and then it all goes wrong when apparently the DR's go nuts. So we have a chase to the death, love on the run, the full range of human e ...more
Jul 06, 2012 Nikki rated it it was ok
Mindless pulpy fun, as with the previous books of Palmer's I've read. Definitely not my favourite; although the slow evolution of Hugo Baal and the character of Tonii were interesting, and the pace is as you'd expect from Palmer's work (if you've read any, anyway), and there are a lot of fun ideas... So many of the characters are total pricks, there's so much joyous, senseless killing, and though there's an preservation-of-alien-worlds excuse going on for some characters, that was never anyone's ...more
Oct 31, 2010 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Classic science fiction - crisp, speedy prose that describes alien creatures, dangerous space situations and terrific new imaginary gadgets. Plus the best collection of assorted science jerks and meatheaded soldiers this side of where ever they last clashed over saving the native flora and fauna. The story is not all that new and reminded me of at least two other books immediately - Amber Spyglass and Airborn - but that did not detract from Palmer's tale. He is a good writer, able to create beli ...more
Mar 04, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it
Riveting, action-packed story. And maybe the most plausible sci-fi novel I've ever read about human exploration of another planet. The alien world and the critters who inhabit it are *extremely* alien and violently inhospitable to homo sapiens. But the greater threat lies in the competing agendas of the human explorers and their willingness to kill one another to advance them. The idea of us taking our homicidal terrestrial squabbles about territory, religion/philosophy, personal ambition, etc. ...more
Oct 06, 2011 Jonathx rated it it was amazing
This was the first Philip Palmer book I read and it wowed the socks off me. I was particularly impressed by the vividness of the descriptions of the various forms of alien life encountered and the sheer inventiveness of Philip Palmer's imagination.

The actions scenes were great, extraordinarily violent but thrillingly and meticulously described. It's also a very darkly funny and brilliantly smart book- all of the scientific descriptions of the aliens are particularly interesting. It was a truly
Sep 21, 2014 Ainslee rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
Frustrating fonts on the copy I have, the switching between narratives really didn't need a large icon and the blank pages that identify the progression of time were unnecessary. The story was reasonable, the characters had enough depth to carry the story along and the environment was well described, although I can't help but be disappointed there wasn't more story development, deeper characters and more focus on the human interactions within the alien environment, instead of the reactions to hu ...more
Nov 08, 2009 Eric rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction, 2009
Things go awry for a group of scientists during a tricky terraforming assignment. Not only does the planet bite back, but a decades-old feud erupts to endanger the mission (between men, writes the author, there is no closer bond than being enemies). Well written, highly entertaining, and full of crazy surprises. I've just discovered that "Monsters on a Planet" is a sub-genre of science fiction. I need to read more of this stuff.

Coda: here's a bit of science fiction sex (the author, I'm sure, is
Aug 07, 2011 Sam rated it really liked it
A crazy mish-mash of SF ideas punctuated with some fairly over the top violence. The prose is pretty good (and sometimes hilarious) and the characters are interesting. It meanders a bit in the middle, but it remained compelling from start to finish.

If you haven't read Debatable Space (his previous novel) then the references to the wider universe, one of which underscores a major twist, will be lost on you. I'd say it's still a 3 star read even then.
Jan 23, 2015 Daffyd rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Oh gosh. So whiz-bang exciting, over-the-top absurdist, ridiculously clever without being that annoying sort of self-consciously clever that seems to suffuse so many books these days. It pulls up a lot of sci-fi tropes, makes fun of them, and then sets the dial to 11 and then says to hell with the dial and just keeps going.

Okay, so it's not the most profound thing I've ever read. Not profound at all. But it's so goddamn fun I can't not rate it highly.
Jun 20, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Sci-Fi and crazy death scenes
Recommended to Sarah by: Mike Dumiak
What a roller coaster ride! I liked this book pretty well - ups and downs and over the top creativity in the creation of a new world and its inhabitants. I particularly loved the Gryphons and the Godzillas. Not so fond of all the animals that constantly poop out new things. I liked the cast of characters and the way they just kept dying off and loved the "Journals" and footnoting. But after crying my eyes out over The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I just couldn't give it a 4. Still good though.
Rachelle Rae
Nov 13, 2010 Rachelle Rae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A great scifi adventure read. Its land of the lost meets 2001: A space Odyssey. I enjoyed reading about all of the wildlife on this distant planet, plants that are animals and animals that are plants, monsters, and more. Everything about this adventure made me want to read more, I'll be reading Palmer's new book soon!

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I started writing when I was 14 and wrote a short story for the school magazine about a bank robber who is killed during a heist and goes to Heaven - can't get through the Pearly Gates, and has to break in. Nicely synthesising all the genres I still love to mash up...

When I came to London from University I started writing and combined that with working for theatres and TV and film companies as a s
More about Philip Palmer...

Other Books in the Series

Debatable Space (4 books)
  • Debatable Space
  • Version 43
  • Artemis

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