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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

This Fortress World

Copyright 1955 by James E. Gunn

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Awful (1/5)

I first read this in October 1978 and most recently on the 14th February 2012

William Dane is a monk in the Church of the far future. He's a happy believer even when he's operating the miracle machine at the public ceremonies. However once day he sees a beautiful girl, terrified and on the run, enter the Church in search of sanctuaryy but leave to be brutally assaulted.

THe injustice he witnessed forces him to leave the Church, become a trained killer of evil men and rise up against the imperial forces. Initially because of the girl and finally because - as he slowly comes to realize - this may be Humanity's last chance to lift itself out of millennia of oppression and exploitation into something more civilized and humane.

I bought this from Robert Flood's in Portsmouth. I wonder if that shop is still there. I wonder if Portsmouth is still there. What if that whole city has dropped off the map, dissipated through inattention? What if it really is all about me, that only my concentrated attention keeps the world in existence and if I for a moment allow myself to drift into muddle-headedness, then whole continents could fade away into smoke. A moment's inattention and Australia is gone, I'm left with just a swirling nothingness around me, blue-tinged , but even hue is fading. And I wake. I prepare the morning coffee while listening to the Rolling Stones performing the excellent - because the conceit above has simply allowed an artificial segue into - Not Fade Away. That's from 1964. Watch them again 30 years later in 1994.

But what has this novel got? Massive drama and excitement if you're sixteen, the fight of one young man against the evil forces that rule the imperial empire, battling the cruel and devilish incarnations that enslave men on the dirt of a thousand worlds. A lot of that appeal is lost if one is over twenty though. Quite a bit more than I expected, actually.

Loaded on the 6th March 2021.
Cover of This Fortress World

Reviews of other works by James E. Gunn:
The Joy Makers
The Listeners
The Immortals