16 August 2007

Sterling E. Lanier Doubleshot

Posted by Dirk under: books .

I picked up two Sterling E. Lanier books at the Friends of the Library Used Book sale a few weekends ago.

coverThe first was Hiero’s Journey. Published in 1975, it’s set thousands of years after a nuclear war has pretty much destroyed the world. I love post-apocalyptic fiction. The first thing I thought of while reading it was that it must have been a huge influence on the creators of the old RPG Gamma World.
The writing sort of reminds me of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but slightly updated.

The protagonist, Hiero Desteen, rides around on a ‘morse’ a large mutant moose that future men use as riding animal. He is on a secret mission to find a city of the ancients and there, dig up one of their ancient devices that will help his people fight the evil Unclean, a group of mutant humans with mental powers. During his journey he encounters many odd creatures and kills most of them.
He also rescues a beautiful slave girl from being sacrificed. They fall in love and it turns out she’s actually a princess who ran away from her father becaus he wanted her to marry some old fat guy or something.

The book also has mutant cannibal pirates. Mutant psychic fungi. Mean mutant monkeys. Some really big frogs. Lovable mutant mental bears. Old druid guys with mental powers. Nympho mutant plant women.

The second book was Menace Under Marswood. Published in 1983, it is set just a little bit in the future. Mars has been terraformed and colonized by Earth. Due to the Chinese feeling left out because America and Russia did not invite them to join the terraforming party, they pissed in the Martian punch by sending all sorts of vermin to populate the planet. Mosquitoes, ticks, leeches, poison ivy…all kinds of nasty stuff like that.

So instead of Mars being terraformed into a paradise, it gets turned into a real hellhole. But it’s a hellhole with valuable mineral deposits and that is where our main hero comes in. He’s an officer in the U.N. forces that are stationed on Mars to protect the mining operations from the ‘natives’. The natives are not really native, they are the descendants of early colonists that ran off into the bush to live their own way. They don’t like the earthers. It’s basically John Wayne in the fort fighting off the blood thirsty Apaches outside.

However, it turns out the natives are pretty cool cats and they are having some problems with mysterious newcomers that are getting them all riled up. The U.N. guys team up with some of the locals and go out to find the source of the problem. Of course, one of the natives that hooks up with the hero is a beautiful young thing who falls in love with him. She also is sort of a princess, it turns out.

Both books have very good good guys and very bad bad guys. There are no shades of grey here. I liked em though. I wish I had found them 30 years ago because I know I would have loved em then 🙂

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