Sphere Books, 1987 (UK)
ISBN 0 7474 0269 8
|Ballantine/Del Rey 1988 (US)|
|Funtopia review:||On a primitive, arid planet, Harkaan is exiled from his tribe for killing men, only to discover that the killing spree, and his banishment, are part of a deliberately engineered Darwinian selection process, which culminates in his induction as a starship trooper in an interstellar war fought by humans on behalf of alien overlords, the Therem, against another group of aliens, the Yal. This is Platoon set in a full-metal future, with some brilliant and striking images of combat on alien planets. The book is, in the authors words, a "long-range sequel" to Protectorate, and, unusually for Farren, concludes on a positive note, with a battered remnant of humankind escaping the all-embracing and cynical control of the alien masters and, just maybe, building a worthwhile life for themselves.|
|Author's comment||See Mick Farren's Collected Works.|
|Availability||UK version out of print. Copies sometimes available from book search sites, occasionally turn up in UK second-hand dealers, book fairs, etc. US version easily obtainable via book search sites.|
|Excerpt (by permission)||
The dropcraft hit ground with a
bone-jarring jolt. Its wings feathered up. It plunged, bounced, and skidded over an uneven
surface. For a moment, it seemed to be slewing sideways, about to roll over, then, at the
last moment, it jerked to a stop. There was an instant of stunned silence before Rance
started yelling in their ears again.
"Up and out, you bastards! Up and out! Loose those lap bars and go!"
Two ports on either side of the ship swung down. Violet light, punctuated by flashes of brilliant white, streamed in.
"I said let's go!"
Lap bars clanged up, and the men were on their feet, heading for the ports. Their boots clashed on the cabin floor. Hark grabbed his weapon and moved with the others. He was no longer thinking.
"Check equipment before you hit the outside."
It was a matter of rote. Helmet seal, energy packs, water bottle, minimed, supply case, trencher. AlI good. The port was in front of him. Other troopers were press ing behind him, and there was no chance of turning back. Rance slapped him on the shoulder, and he stumbled down the ramp. It was a violet world, a place of violet sky, purple sand, and jagged dark purple rocks. Hark stepped off the ramp and staggered. The sand was deep and incredibly fine. It behaved almost like a viscous liquid. He sank into it up to his knees. Other troopers had also bogged down.
"Cut boot gravity and jump!"
The planet's own gravity was considerably less than' either the gravity in their parts of the ship or that generated by their boots. Hark jumped and found that he was immediately free of the clinging dust. A single stride could take him maybe three meters.
"Spread out! Get away from the ship! Move Out!"
Out of the cover provided by the ship, Hark saw the four domes that made up the nearest Yal battery. There was so much in this war that dwarfed him. The domes were a line of mathematically perfect Yal-made hills. Brilliant radiation flashed from the apex of each dome, shooting straight up. The sky above was a maelstrom of blinding color, a continuous explosion as the Yal shields fought off the stream of energy from the cluster. The air itself seemed to be vibrating. The glare of the majestically undulating raw energy and plasma field cast distinct shadows and eclipsed the light of the planet's two suns. Even the longtimers were standing and staring.
Rance himself was given a moment's pause. It was one hell of a spectacle. The whole sky was suffused by an instant of iridescent blue. Some trace element in the atmosphere must have burned. At least the median had been right. The shields were so stretched to hold off the bombardment from space that they no longer extended to the ground. He quickly gathered himself. "Don't stand there gawking!"
Dyrkin's voice cut into their helmets. "Incoming! PBA from that ridge at oh-one-five."