Hey! This isn't Deathworld! Jason dinAlt is busted and carted away from Pyrrus (Deathworld) to face justice on the casino world he cheated in the firsHey! This isn't Deathworld! Jason dinAlt is busted and carted away from Pyrrus (Deathworld) to face justice on the casino world he cheated in the first novel. But instead he crash lands the space craft on a world where human civilization has regressed to a primitive slave society divided into separate tribes. Harrison has his extremely pragmatic hero puncture both the extreme selfishness of the slave society and the brainless self-righteous idealism of the extremely priggish cop Mikah.
Mikah is one of the weakness of the novel because he is such a dumb-ass straw man. I would have enjoyed a novel where there was some tension between Jason's pragmatism and Mikah's idealism, but that would be a novel written by a writer who was actively trying to work something out. It is achingly obvious that Harrison is all on Jason's side.
But I still enjoyed the book, especially how Jason takes his basic knowledge of engineering and uses it to maneuver and survive in this paranoid society where technology is stunted due to what are medieval guilds who rabidly guard the secrets of their particular tech.
I listened to this on the free Librivox audio read by the ever dependable Gregg Margarite, under it's original title, "The Ethical Engineer", which may mean it was the original 42,000 word story which was later expanded to the 60,000 word novel Deathworld 2. Ah, back when you could publish a short pithy novel and not have to pad it with a lot of crap....more
Yup, a popsicle pirate. Unfortunately, this former best-seller hasn't weathered time as well as the pirate does (at first). Seaman Paul Rodney isn't aYup, a popsicle pirate. Unfortunately, this former best-seller hasn't weathered time as well as the pirate does (at first). Seaman Paul Rodney isn't a very interesting character (passive and priggish) and the book didn't really hold my interest. It takes ten or eleven chapters to get to the pirate and these are not chapters filled with exciting events. When we finally do get a defrosted pirate he's almost as boring as Rodney. The secret of a pirate book is to delight in the depravity of these rascals of the sea -- author William Clark Russel will have none of that. As for the resolution, well all I can say is freezer-burn isn't much of a plot device. The rest of the book is Rodney working out, in excessive detail how to get his booty home. For a pirate book there is a distressing lack of fun here.
I listened to this as a free download from Librivox (Well, I did skim listen some of the middle chapters.) There are multiple readers, but once I got past the first two chapters the volunteer narrators get better and it is read quite competently mostly by Barbara Derksen, though I think her French accent sort of drifts over into Russian -- all part of the charm of having regular people read....more
Actually this is more a 3.5 review. Despite a fairly two dimensional main character and a lot of explaining, the ideas and wit of this novelette reallActually this is more a 3.5 review. Despite a fairly two dimensional main character and a lot of explaining, the ideas and wit of this novelette really carried the day. Favourite bits were the identical religious speeches on both Omega and Earth (only spoiled a bit because Sheckley couldn't restrain himself from pointing out the same point at the end) and the copying of past authors that passes itself off as creation, both for the pulps and the higher literary forms. (In the camp of there are no new ideas in art, I suppose.) Some of his points like the insularity of people's pursuits on Earth have to strike rather close to home for people, like myself, who spend a large part of their energies on the internet.
It is good that the book ends where it does because I found myself fairly easily formulating a lot of counter-measures that the computers/robots could come up with to ensure that the Omegans don't get anywhere with their plans. (If you've programmed everyone to police themselves it would be fairly easy to also slip in a solider program in case a part of your population rebelled or broke free from conditioning. This doesn't even address the problem that the computers are really the only ones with up to date technology.) But that really isn't the point of this story, which is to dissect with urbanity the culture of conformity of the 50s and early 60s. That the work still has bite today shows how society is always in that balance between unrestrained, creative, yet dangerous energy and the safety of stultifying security. All hail our internet nanny overlord!
I listened to the librivox production of this work, read by Gregg Margarite. His reading style is slightly wooden, but he is a terrific reader and well suited to the 50's tone. And best of all, librivox is free!...more
(A 2.5 review) Verne is an odd guy to write a sequel to Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. He's arguably the father of hard science fiction - a(A 2.5 review) Verne is an odd guy to write a sequel to Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. He's arguably the father of hard science fiction - a very prosaic/rational author to Poe's nightmare visions. The differing orientation is the chief source of disappoint for me: Pym's final vision is dismissed as a hallucination and replaced with a rational - quasi-scientific mystery. What Verne does give us is a well written 'men in extremis' story, with the usual tensions shipboard of the honourable officers against the craven lower seamen. Though the fate of Dirk Peters was just groan inducing. I liked 'the half-breed' Peters as a bastard in Poe far more than as a whinging loyal servant going on about "my poor Pym!"...more
Mr. Poe is definitely messing with us on this one. It just gets odder and odder: cannibalism (don't pick the short splinter), racism (an evil black coMr. Poe is definitely messing with us on this one. It just gets odder and odder: cannibalism (don't pick the short splinter), racism (an evil black cook and the treacherous natives), and gotta have some being buried alive (twice if you include being trapped below decks). Some of the aping of explorers journals gets tired and a couple of the chapters are just non-fiction essay (which may be trickily mucked up by Poe, but I don't have the heart to check them). He may be using the forms of adventure, sea-lit and horror, with a little sf mixed in, but mostly this seems kinda of post-mod, done pre-mod. The white figure at the end of the story could be the white of the page, or a retreat into whiteness after all the 'evil blackness' of what came before. The final words of book may be Poe's message to the unaware reader, or perhaps a quote from some missing pages of the bible......more
Cheesy fun, I love how the characters often talk to each other using full name and title. I listened to a Librivox version, but I may pick up other ofCheesy fun, I love how the characters often talk to each other using full name and title. I listened to a Librivox version, but I may pick up other of Burroughs work if I'm in the mood. This is what good B or C movies replaced, then inexplicably became summer blockbusters like the Mummy series and Van Helsing!!! (you must always shout the later)....more
The Invisible Man works both as an old fashion adventure, but Wells is also caustic and intelligent enough to give another layer to what really is a 'The Invisible Man works both as an old fashion adventure, but Wells is also caustic and intelligent enough to give another layer to what really is a 'village threatened by a monster' story. Loved how you can see invisibility as a metaphor for power and boundary violation. A naked (invisible) man's reign of terror, the book seems to tap into the fears of the breakdown of societal restraints pre-WWI. The invisible man, Griffin, seems to become more cruel and power mad the longer his is unseen. It's particularly striking to consider his selfish individuality and his fate at the end of the novel....more