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Planet of the Damned (Harry Harrison)

2 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Planet of the Damned is an action oriented sci-fi adventure story about a man trying to save a planet from thermonuclear armageddon.  I guess the most pronounced twists on the standard perfect-hero-saves-the-world formula is a strict deadline looming before all life on the planet is obliterated and the fact that the people populating the threatened world appear at first to be alien and difficult to comprehend even though they eventually turn out to be standard noble savages.  It was written while the Cold War was in full swing, so there is a bit of the whole “war is futile and peace is the only answer” subtext going on that will probably seem heavy-handed to modern readers.  This probably also explains the strict deadline to thermonuclear annihilation, as living under that looming threat wouldn’t have been sci-fi to people of that era but instead a grim reality.  The technology is also decidedly anachronistic in some ways, as the author had no way of predicting the technological innovations that have subsequently remade society.  I wouldn’t say this is a terrible book, but I wouldn’t recommend it, largely because I think sci-fi has evolved significantly since it was written and most things written today are simply better.
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