Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harry Harrison's "Deathworld" (novel, survival, free): Hate begets hate, love begets love

Cover image of the 1960 novel Deathworld by Harry HarrisonI have conflicting feelings about it:

  1. Action packed enough that I finished it within 2 days - among the fastest for me for English novels.
  2. Large parts of it feel too juvenile - better suited to someone in early teens.
  3. Parts of it raise important philosophical issues that makes those parts very much normal adult reading.

Story summary.

A human colony world, Pyrrus, is suffering a major 3 way conflict:
  1. An extreme form of urban/rural divide. While both need each other, neither can stand the sight of the other.
  2. A local semi-sentient life vs urban human settlers divide that makes the city extremely hostile to human settlers.
An outsider's view, in the form of off-world visitor Jason dinAlt, will finally unveil the nature of conflicts, & pave the way for resolution.

Fact sheet.

First published: As a 3 part serial in Astounding, January/February/March 1960.
Rating: B.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg, Manybooks, or Feedbooks.
Download audio read by Gregg Margarite for LibriVox from LibriVox or Internet Archive.
Nominated for Hugo Award 1961 in novel category.
Listed among the stories from John Campbell's Astounding/Analog.
There have been several sequels to it - including two novels & some stories not available in English, some of them in collaboration with other authors. I haven't read any of the sequels.
Related: Stories of Harry Harrison.


Stevefah said...

Although it may seem that "large parts are... suitable for someone in their teens" today, I remind you that the story was written over 40 years ago.
Society was very different then. We were very different then as well; you make the common mistake of judging previous art by today's standards.
It is, however, the best one of the three Deathworld novels, imho.
BTW--I was a teen when I read the serial in Astounding/Analog (and I remember December/Jan/Feb, not what you have cited here) and it suited me just fine!