My tastes in sci-fi


Yeah, occasionally, tired of the SF in search of identity and modernity, I plunge back into my tidy classic that I bought almost 40 years ago. At the time I went to the booksellers selling my fantastic magazines in exchange for me heroic fantasy works. Not necessarily smart but I was young, but I paid little attention to the values from a collector standpoint. And it was expensive. Yes but it is always beautiful. One that I bought in 1971 was illustrated by a young artist who made his way: Moebius.

These three short novels tell the adventures of Morgan, a funny guy but also loaded without any morality, a Terran born and raised on Varna, a high gravity planet whose inhabitants are thieves. As they endure accelerations that others could not withstand, their ships with needle shapes are handy against enemy fleets. They carry out surprise attacks and raids and return home to celebrate. And they are not afraid of death.

Morgan, among Varnans Terrien, was forced to flee with his family after a dark history of sharing spoils that went wrong. He is rescued by some alien mercenaries. Those are earthlings who are at the service of those who reward them for different missions. Their leader is called Duplilo, a tough guy who has a morality of his own. For example he avoids to kill if possible kill and bury the dead.

During their first mission, the mercenaries will go in search of the weapon of nowhere, which will prove to be a huge alien ship stranded on a lost planet. They will find no weapons but representatives of a civilization too advanced for them to understand.

In the forbidden worlds they will look for a landowner on a planet explorer closed to the rest of the cosmos and who jealously guards a fascinating secret: the wandering free. The only way to access this secret is to play roulette and to win. With this technology the spirit leaves the body and can project instantly throughout the universe.

In the planet of the wolves, Morgan will return to his home planet and he will lead his countrymen to grab the largest secret they have ever seen. He will retrieve the suns who sing, one of the finest works of art in the known world, and deliver his fellow mercenaries.

This is truly great good old-fashioned space opera, full of planets with fascinating landscapes, battles in space adventures. There is also the strange friendship that builds between Chane and one of the mercenaries, two single men who maintain the evil of their respective countries but with no illusions. Their homeland is the space.

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Essay © 1982 David Brin. All rights reserved.