Book 6 Planet of the Damned by Harry Harrison
This book fulfills the Author with the Same First and Last Initial requirement on the PopSugar 2019 reading challenge.
Old school Sci-Fi and I are not friends. Well, not good friends. We get along pretty well, but we have some varying opinions. Sometimes we have to snooze each other on Facebook.
Planet of the Damned depicts a superhuman male selected to rescue a planet in dire need. The place is about to be blown sky high by two warring factions—natives and the neighboring planet’s inhabitants. All fighty and no negotiating so they bring a champion in. One from another planet millions of miles away.
Oh, and he has a team, another über male—superior and smart, cunning and ready. And SPOILER——He’s dead by page 42. (Ironic? Nah. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy wasn’t written until around 1979.)
There is also a female scientist from Earth on the journey. A token female. One. Just one woman in all the whole mess. Well, Harrison did write it in 1962. Oh and she’s only there to throw out her smart ideas and then be incapacitated for the remainder of the book. And the hero falls in love with her. I guess because of the ten sassy, smart sentences she said.
Anyway, the premise explores the concept of alien—how miscommunication happens because we don’t share a common language, culture, etc. But it doesn’t do it well. Our hero can understand, communicate, and figure out all the problems between the two races on the planet easily. No one else can do what he does. I’m all for the Chosen One trope, but it’s kinda ridiculous to have one guy in millions of miles of space be the only one who can save them. So he’s an alien (kinda) who can save all the aliens (kinda).*
I think I’d like this book better if he was saving his own planet. If he was more invested in the lives he was saving. Yes, the author did the “All human lives are worth saving” thing. I think that’s why he made the “bad guys” less than human in the end.
Like I said, old school sci-fi doesn’t sit with me well. The scientific advances and the cultural shifts date the books. I really tried to see through all that to examine the writing. But a badly formatted Kindle book and too much testosterone (the book’s, not mine) made it a tough read.
I give it 3 out of 5 symbiotic aliens.
*If you want to read a great book about the concept of alien and how arrogant we are as a species, read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Great book.