Every so often I get an urge to read lots of science fiction books in a row. There is something so thrilling about seeing how other writers deal with...moreEvery so often I get an urge to read lots of science fiction books in a row. There is something so thrilling about seeing how other writers deal with stuff such as world-building. But most of all, I just love to see what action takes place on these worlds. Given my love of Mark Nelson's reading and H. Beam Piper's writing, Four-Day Planet seemed the obvious choice for my next book to read.
GIST Fenris is a backwater planet with an only export of Tallow-Wax, a substance that comes from a rather dangerous creature known as the Jarvis' Sea Monster. When the entrenched and villainous leader of the Hunters' Guild Co-Op tries to further cut the deserving monster hunters of a fair income, members start to fight against those involved in his conspiracy. But who can the hunters trust? The numerous twists and turns of this action-packed adventure are told through the eyes of Walter Boyd, cub reporter of the Port Sandor Times.
THOUGHTS As expected, H. Beam Piper weaves a rather exciting story set in the particularly dangerous setting of the planet of Fenris. The action sequences take place against both man and monster, allowing the reader some insight into the conditions of the planet. In the one scenario where the crew are stuck out in the middle of nowhere, we also see some of the dangers inherent on this desolate and difficult planet. Piper does well to also explain the way that the low population has also effected the gene pool of the planet in a rather intelligent way. This is all seen through the first person POV of Walter Boyd, the son of Ralph Boyd who is the editor of the sole news service on the planet called the Port Sandor Times. Walt is a great character that is both brilliant yet has the ability to make mistakes. He is also humble enough to admit those mistakes. The dialogue was well-written, show the unique personality of each character. The most notable of these is that of "Bish" Ware, a rather significant side character. And these conversations each add to the story through their commentary on the state of affairs. The plot is well-paced, offering more than enough incentive to read on through the questions that it answers as much as the ones posed. He also does well to avoid info-dumps on the planet and the cast before the narrator would logically bring the numerous facts to mind. And it works wonderfully.
CONCLUSION The dialogue was rather clever, plot well-paced, action sequences chaotic enough to have legitimacy, and the conclusion a worthy pay-off for all of the different things happening throughout the story. Much in all as I love reading pulp sci-fi, there is something to be said for reading a fully-fledged science fiction novel. Four-Day Planet doesn't feel rushed yet has enough excitement packed in to make even a disillusioned reader take note. Other readers may have other opinions, but I thought this book was perfect! (less)
I haven't listened to a lot of older science fiction stories, but when I noticed that audiobook reader Mark Nelson (a personal favorite reader) had re...moreI haven't listened to a lot of older science fiction stories, but when I noticed that audiobook reader Mark Nelson (a personal favorite reader) had read this story, I decided to spend a few minutes listening to his librivox reading at Archive.org, my interest was perked by those first few minutes of conversation between Terry and Deirdre in their first meeting. GIST After being left holding the bag after his business partner leaves him to deal with the knock-on affect of fitting some new technology onto a more successful fishing vessel, radar and electrical engineer is approached by a young woman offering him some quick vacation cash in exchange for making a fish-driving paddle. Initial suspicion and angst leads to rampant curiosity when he learns the purpose for it. As he begins to piece together the mystery, he and the volunteer crew discover that there is more to the situation than a simple squabble over fishing - a danger that lurks in the bottom of the Luzon Deep. THOUGHTS I love the textual narrative of this story, one that Mark Nelson does justice to. Told primarily through the eyes of Terry Holt, the readers get to learn tidbits of information in a rather timely fashion. The descriptive is awesome as well, though highly recognizable as old-school with terms such as "presently" which are common before the 1970's. The characterization and dialogue was worthy, adding to the tension as the mystery unraveled. The romance between Terry and Deirdre plays out subtly enough to not overshadow the main plot. And it works well because of it. The pacing was spot-on as well. No ninjas? No problem as this story has giant squid and other monsters. CONCLUSION Yes, I did adore this story. Any story featuring sea monsters is a winner, with the addition of aliens doing alien things even better. The first contact scenario forced the humans to adapt to the odd situation which gave a solid purpose for the crew after they come to certain conclusions about what they are facing. It was a great introduction to Murray Leinster's writing and I highly recommend folks giving it a listen and/or read. (less)