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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

The Patterns Of Chaos

Copyright 1970 by Colin Kapp

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (3/5)

I first read this in 1974 and most recently on the 24th November 2002

Our hero recovers consciousness on a planet about to be obliterated, the planet-busting hell-burner missile only hours away from impact. In these last few hours before planetary detonation, the Destroyer spaceships are landing around him. Their immediate purpose is to collect as slaves any useful humans they can find.

Unfortunately for him, he's lost his memory, he has no idea who he is or what he's doing there. Then he hears a voice in his head, cursing him but giving him instructions that might just save his life. His support team, communicating with him by a highly secure, near-telepathic link, try to convince that he is, in fact, Bron, top and most expensive operative of the legendary Space Command. They desperately goad him to complete this critical mission about which he knows nothing, neither what it is nor why it must be done.

So things start off tough for our hero, Bron the Space Commando, but he will rapidly adapt and take these adverse conditions in his stride. He'll handle the brutal torture to which he's subjected in the temple of a sadistic religion. He'll even handle his subsequent capture by Marin Dalquist, right-hand man of Cana, commander of the Destroyer fleet.

However, how will he handle the discovery that missile that destroys this world was aimed at him, at where he would be at the moment of impact, and that it was launched 700 million years before?

Clearly someone somewhere doesn't much like our protagonist or what he's about to do.

This is a classic all-action space opera. It's starts with a bang, and pretty much carries on that way, throwing in great ideas about chaos theory and the foretelling of future events, and actually getting better as it progresses. It's a little Arnold Schwarzeneggerish at the beginning but Bron rapidly mutates into a more urbane Bruce Willis. It also takes some time to get used to the astonishing banter between Bron and his telepathically-connected controllers, JayCee, Ananias and Doc Veeder: "Godlost louse", "Honey-bitch". Oh, what a delight.

I enjoyed this book, but wasn't so fond of his later works. What I do remember most about Kapp was a three or four part novella serialised in Galaxy or New Worlds magazines, published prior to this paperback. The title escapes me completely of course and I'm also at a loss as to what it was about. I do remember it being pretty dynamic action-hero-saves-the-Universe stuff, and involving some sort of large-scale, matter transmission.

These books are pretty much teenage escapism, but there's a little more and, by heck, I still enjoyed reading it this time around.

Let me just throw in a compliment to Panther Books who managed to publish a high quality range of SF in the UK. In general, if it was a Panther book, you knew there was a good chance of it being worth the read.

Loaded on the 30th November 2002.
Cover of The Patterns Of Chaos
Cover art by Chris Foss

Reviews of other works by Colin Kapp:
The Survival Game