Book Review – Deathworld

A Science-Fiction classic by Harry Harrison

Before Livingstone and Jackson even had the idea for Games Workshop and before the birth of Warhammer – science fiction in the 60s was having a great time; with speculative fiction, loads of magazines being published and space ships; lots and lots of space ships.

And Harry Harrison was one of the greats, with books spanning 50 years from 1960 to 2010. Famous mostly for the ‘Stainless Steel Rat’, I first found him through the novel Deathworld… which sounded like it could be an Imperial Guard novel – and possibly the basis for the Catachan Regiment.

From Goodreads: “The planet was called Pyrrus…a strange place where all the beasts, plants and natural elements were designed for one specific purpose: to destroy man. The settlers there were supermen…twice as strong as ordinary men and with milli-second reflexes. They had to be. For their business was murder… It was up to Jason dinAlt, interplanetary gambler, to discover why Pyrrus had become so hostile during man’s brief habitation…”

Okay, so I admit it, I may have lured you in a little on false pretences; the main story is indeed about a gambler with luck who is employed by the Ambassador of Pyrrus to win enough money for him to buy guns… lots of guns… a whole world of guns! After Jason dinAlt (the gambler) wins the money, he elects to join the ambassador to see Pyrrus for himself.

And it’s the planet of Pyrrus which is the best part of the story for me. Evocatively described, the planet which is trying to kill every human on it – including Jason dinAlt – with the creatures, plants and possibly the very planet itself trying to wipe humanity from its surface.

It’s a short novel (what would be a novella in modern terms), this is a great read if you want some inspiration for a Catachan themed roleplaying scenario or a narrative campaign. With the added benefit of being a great read as well. And if you like it as much as I did, the great news is that it is a trilogy! (and it’s available on Audible)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

— Declan

Check out the full list of Book Reviews we’ve done on Woehammer here

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