Monday, February 02, 2009

Review of Steve Lyons' "Death World"

"Death World" by Steve Lyons is situated at the crossroads of four genres--(1) it is a military science fiction like Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers," Joe Haldeman's "The Forever War," and Gordon Dickinson's "Dorsai;" (2) it is a "deathworld" novel reminiscent of Harry Harrison's Deathworld series; (3) it is the story of a single squad in combat like "Platoon" and "Sands of Iwo Jima;" and (4) it is a horror novel like "Alien" and "Predator."

Irrespective of the genre echoes reverberating throughout the text, it remains true to Warhammer 40K. The usual 40k tropes abound: The troops go to war in the Gothic battle-barges of the Empire. They deal with the inept and sometimes corrupt Imperium commanders. Horror exists at every turn--from the dangers of the corrupting warp to the attack of zombies in the night. Consequently, the novel appeals to both gamers and science fiction fans.

In summary, the novel concerns a squad of Catachan jungle fighters sent into the jungle of Rogar III to assassinate an Ork Boss. The Empire and the Orks are mining Rogar III; however, over the last few months the planet inexplicably has begun to mutate into a death world.

In the Warhammer universe a death world is one that for whatever reason is inhabitable by man.

We learn that Rogar III world is sentient and does not want either the Imperial troops or the Orks on its surface. To rid itself of the invasions, it engineers its nature to become toxic to both humans and Orks.

The beauty of "Death World" lies in the deft way in which Steve Lyons presents the story. He introduces the squad in a straight-forward, no-nonsense way; he focuses on the protagonist--Lorenzo--;and he develops all his characters naturally through the narrative. He preserves the unities and abides by the conventions of his genre.

The story reminded me of some of the movies I loved as a kid--"Operation Burma," "A Walk in the Sun," "Battleground."

If you like "Death World," I also recommend Lucien Soulban's "Desert Raiders," Harry Harrison's "Deathworld," and Dan Abnett's "Double Eagle."

1 comment:

ernest said...

The story kept my interest all the way through