Lee's Reviews > The Centauri Device

The Centauri Device by M. John Harrison
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's review
Jul 23, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read from July 23 to 28, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Gritty, acerbic, and blancmange are all words that come to mind as I think back over this book. Although that last one's probably because I haven't had any coffee yet today.

An alien device is found on a planet whose inhabitants were almost entirely wiped out in a war with humanity, and the leaders of the two world superpowers believe it to be the key to their side gaining dominance. Unfortunately for them it can only be controlled by someone with the alien genetic code. Enter John Truck, the only living person they can find who has any of these alien genes, and a bit of a loser to boot.

And so we follow Captain Truck as he staggers, vomits, and haphazardly shoots his way around the galaxy, variously trying to run from the myriad factions that want him to use the device for them, and giving himself up to one of the factions just to remove the responsibility from himself.

Truck's not the kind of hero that it's easy to appreciate, but then I think that's the point: he is the downtrodden everyman, not Jack Bauer. Harrison's prose is certainly rollicking, and the story holds promise, but overall it just lacked that certain something to elevate it beyond pretty-good-ness.
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