Books : reviews

Stephen Goldin.
Assault on the Gods.
Legend. 1977

rating : 4.5 : passes the time
review : 2 May 2005

Captain Ardeva Korell discovers that the downtrodden natives of Dascham have good reason to fear and obey their oppressive gods, when she witnesses an angel blast one of her crew to ash for blasphemy. Then a rebellious native seeks sanctuary on her ship, promising a reward for taking him to the "demons" who can help vanquish the gods. Piecing together the story, the crew realise the gods are probably early settlers, keeping the natives in thrall through advanced technology. Larramac, the ship's owner, scents a profit, and decides to assault the gods directly, despite the Captain's protests.

This is good old-fashioned SF, with a motley crew of five taking on an entire mountainful of gods, or at least high tech. Some of the old-fashioned-ness and naivety grates a little, and, as ever, the tech hasn't stood the test of time. But the attacks of the killer robot-angels are quite fun. And the plot structure drops into the action from the start, filling in back-story with flashbacks, or omitting it all together, which helps move the story on. One bit of this backstory, and the most interesting part of the book, is the extreme rationalist philosophy of Dev's home planet, probably a variant of the Korzybski school that inhabits parts of SF.

A fairly mindless way to while away a couple of hours -- these older books are at least short.

Stephen Goldin.
Hamlyn. 1978

Stephen Goldin.
A World Called Solitude.
Fawcett Crest. 1981

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 25 July 2005

Birk Aaland has been living alone on Solitude for 11 years, with only robots for company, and thinks it's paradise compared to the persecution that he has escaped from on Earth. But his peace is shattered when an Earth ship crash lands, and the only survivor, Lieutenant Michi Nakamura, insists they must escape to warn Earth of an alien invasion.

What is interesting about this is that Birk is a thoroughly unpleasant character, self-absorbed, petulant, traumatised by his terrible experiences on Earth, warped by his 11 years of Solitude, and having not so much abandoned as forcibly ejected all hope. This charts his redemption.

It's a good page turner, and it's easy to sympathise with Birk whilst nevertheless being appalled at what he does. But in the end everything is just a little bit too easy -- in these circumstances it always helps to be a brilliant inventor who just happens to have whiled away some of the last 11 years developing the perfect secret weapon for the job.

Stephen Goldin.
And Not Make Dreams Your Master.
Fawcett Gold Medal. 1981