Sunday, September 4, 2011

Deathworld by Harry Harrison

Deathworld is an great novel from the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Written by Harry Harrison for Astounding Science Fiction(which is now known as Analog Science Fiction and Fact)

Harry Harrison, an science fiction author best known for his character Stainless Steel Rat and his humorous and satirical approach to science fiction. He started his career as an illustrator for EC Comics, he also wrote comic strip including Flash Gordon newspaper comic strip.
But currently he is more known for this contribution to science fiction as an author, his most famous works include the Stainless Steel Rat series, 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room!, 1962 novel Planet of The Damned and of course Deathworld his 1960 masterpiece.

It is an amazing story that grips you, I read it in 2 days because I just couldn't put it down.

Its quite an epic tale that moves in a great flow and the details are mesmerizing, specially the details of Planet Pyrrus(Deathworld).

Deathworld 1966 novel is about a planet called Pyrrus,

Pyrrus has twice of Earth's gravity and an 42° axial tilt which creates severe weatherand causes constantly changing icecap,
It highly tectonic resulting in frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions,
the open seas perform dual destructive function of supplying water vapor  to keep the weather going and build gigantic tides,
Pyrrus' two moons Samas and Bessos pull the oceans up to thirty meter tides which sometimes laps into active volcano,
plus the planet is near many supernovas,
and over that this harsh condition gave way to evolution of the most dangerous kind to life forms.

Story is about a protagonist named Jason dinAlt, a professional gambler who is challenged by Kerk Pyrrus the ambassador of Pyrrus to turn a large sum of money into an immense sum of money, in which he succeed and decide to accompany Kerk to his home despite his warnings.

Story moves from an pleasure planet called Cassylia where Jason meets Kerk and tells him about Planet Pyrrus, from here we first learn about Pyrrus. The events on Planet Cassylia are also a pleasure to read how Jason gamble there and wins then authorities try to stop him from leaving the planet with the money.
The anticipation about Pyrrus builds up a lot at this point and keeps growing even in the transit part of the story when they are en route to Pyrrus. And when finally when they land on Pyrrus it lives up to all the hype and anticipation.
I will not go much into the plot so those who haven't read it yet.

Currently it is available in public domain as an extensive research by Project Gutenberg did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

Deathworld is the name of the 1960 novel as well as the series.

followed by:
Deathworld 2 in 1964
Deathworld 3 in 1968
Return to Deathworld in 1998
Deathworld vs. Filibusters also in 1998
The Creatures from Hell in 1999
Deathworld 7 / Foes in Intelligence in 2001

Deathworld 1
Deathworld 2
Deathworld 3

These are the part of Original Deathworld Trilogy from 60s.

However the author has written additional novels in continuation, these are the ones that I have mentioned.
I checked it on wikipedia as well as the author's official website.
These are however written with collaboration with Ant Skalandis in Russian and still remained untranslated in English.