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Planet of the Damned: Cheesy, pulpy, boring

Planet of the Damned by Harry Harrison

Brion Brandd has just become the champion of his planet by defeating all the other contestants in “The Twenties.” Many men train all their lives for a chance to be the winner and Brion is ready to savor his victory. But not so fast! When a former winner challenges Brion to do something truly meaningful and heroic with his life, Brion sets off to save the planet Dis from a war that will surely destroy the entire planet. Dis has a hostile environment that nearly kills Brion before he even gets to meet the natives. Then he needs to figure out how the planet and the species that have evolved on it work together so he can solve their political problems.

Since this is a story written by Harry Harrison, there must also be a hot chick for Brion to save and fall in love with. My eyebrows rose when I found out that the girl in Planet of the Damned is Dr. Lea, an accomplished biologist. That was s... Read More

A Wrinkle In Time: Timeless themes

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

First published in 1962, Madeleine L’Engle‘s classic book (along with its subsequent sequels) remains one of the greats of children’s literature, and it is a testimony to her skill that she can get away with using the line “it was a dark and stormy night” as her opening sentence. Widely considered the first science fiction novel written for children, A Wrinkle in Time is a must for any serious young reader’s bookshelf.

Margaret “Meg” Murry is a rather despondent child: her father is missing, she’s having trouble at school and her little brother Charles Wallace is often gossiped about in the community for being “strange.” This is not entirely untrue: after being silent for much of his first four years, Charles Wallace suddenly began speaking in complete and complex sentences when he turned five. Unfortunately, by this stage his f... Read More

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase: The First of the Wolves Saga

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is the first book in the Wolves Saga by Joan Aiken, a series of books set in an alternative 18th century England in the reign of King James III. In this altered history a large number of wolves migrate from the bitter cold of Europe and Russia into Britain via the Channel Tunnel, and terrorize the inhabitants in their continuing hunting.

The story is set at Willoughby Chase, the grand home of Lord Willoughby and Lady Green and their daughter Bonnie. Due to Lady Green's wasting illness, Bonnie's parents are taking a holiday in warmer climates and leaving her in the care of the Lord's newly-arrived distant cousin Letitia Slighcarp. Also due to arrive is Bonnie's orphan cousin Sylvia who lived in London with Lord Willoughby's poorer sister Aunt Jane, co... Read More