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The Warrior of World’s End: Imaginative pulpy adventure

The Warrior of World’s End by Lin Carter

Lin Carter wrote derivative pulpy adventure stories in the style of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and others. I think of these as second-rate but I pick them up when I find them cheap at Audible — they’re short fast-moving stories with imaginative scenery and lots of action. In a Lin Carter novel you’re sure to find a sword-wielding man with sweaty “thews,” a scantily-clad girl who needs to be saved, and lots of scary monsters. Usually this takes place in some fascinatingly impossible setting such as on the boughs of gigantic trees, under a volcano, in a lost city, or on an uncharted planet.

In The Warrior of World’s End, a down-and-out godmaker and his wife are traveling through a desert when they find a large young... Read More

The Warlock in Spite of Himself: Doesn’t live up

The Warlock in Spite of Himself by Christopher Stasheff

Rodney Gallowglass is a spy whose job is to discover unknown planets that need to be brought into the fold of the enlightened democratic intergalactic system. When he lands on the backward planet of Gramayre in his spaceship disguised as an asteroid, Rod and his epileptic computer Fess discover a world of fantasy creatures — witches, ghosts, werewolves, dwarves and elves. Gramayre was originally settled by a group of humans who wanted to revert back to a feudal society. Now it’s a benevolent monarchy that’s threatened by anarchists, witches, and a man who wants to be dictator. Rod suspects that the agitators are being provoked and funded by an off-world interest. He decides that setting up a constitutional monarchy will be the best way to prepare Gramayre for moving on to a real democracy. Meanwhile, the people of Gramayre think Rod is a warlock because he’s got technology they can... Read More

THE DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN: Read the first six books

THE DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN by Anne McCaffrey

It’s been my longstanding theory on multi-book series (by multi-book I mean ones that go well beyond the standard trilogy) that the books tend to fall into four categories: great ones (usually early on), good ones that don't match the passion or excitement of the top ones but still sweep you along, adequate ones that serviceably move the grand story along but aren't particularly original or well-written, and the bad ones that were just spit out because the series’ fans would buy them even if the covers were made of poison ivy leaves. Anne McCaffrey’s classic Pern series is a prime example of this classification system.

Pern is a classic for a reason. The first trilogy Dragonflight, Dragonquest, ... Read More