Sunday, February 27, 2022

Review: The Deathworld Omnibus by Harry Harrison

Book cover for The Deathworld Omnibus
Title: The Deathworld Omnibus
Author: Harry Harrison
Series: Deathworld #1-3
Pages: 512
ISBN: 9781473228375
Publisher: Gollancz
Published: March 1960
Genre: Science Fiction / Space Opera
Source: Purchased

The planet was called Pyrrus, a strange place where all the beasts, plants and natural elements were designed for one specific purpose: to destroy man.

The settlers there were supermen, twice as strong as ordinary men and with milli-second reflexes. They had to be. For their business was murder.

It was up to Jason dinAlt, interplanetary gambler, to discover why Pyrrus had become so hostile during man's brief habitation.

This omnibus contains all three novels in the Deathworld.

If you thought the Deathworld trilogy by Harry Harrison is a pulpy space western you wouldn’t be completely wrong. Take away the technology, the spaceships and the alien worlds and you have the makings of a pretty standard western filled with gambling, gunslinging and high-stakes adventure.

Transporting the familiar into a science fiction setting allows Harry Harrison to explore some much deeper issues while offering a fun, adventure filled read at surface level. Delving deeper you discover that Deathworld, Deathworld 2 and Deathworld 3 (you have to love those titles!) provides some serious food for thought. Deathworld deals with ecology and the constant struggle between humanity and the environment, Deathworld 2 delves into morality and ethics and Deathworld 3 takes a hard look at colonialism and subsummation of other cultures.

For something written in the sixties Deathworld holds up very well, and unlike other novels from the same period it’s refreshing to see female characters treated as equal or even superior to their male counterparts. The first book, Deathworld, is by far the most enjoyable tale included in the omnibus, with Deathworld 2 and Deathworld 3 only tangentially related to the first one. If you are looking for a fun adventure with some deeper meaning, then the Deathworld series might be worth looking into, even if it’s just for some analog tech nostalgia.

The Rating: 6.5/10 (Good)

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