DEATHWORMS OF KRATOS Mass Market Paperback – Aug 12 1975
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Edmund Cooper (who published this novel under the pen name "Richard Avery") was a British author whose wide-ranging oeuvre included a number of science fiction novels. This book was the first of a four-book series that he wrote in the mid-1970s in which his team would face various challenges on an Earth-like world. In many ways this is the best of the quartet, as Cooper couples his pulp action here with pages spent laying out his premise and developing his characters into distinct figures rather than leaving them as interchangeable cardboard cutouts. His themes of sustainability and resource deprivation, a growing concern in the years in which he wrote this, gives his book an air of prescience for readers today, helping to separate it from similar sci-fi novels of its ilk.
Yet these strengths sit uncomfortably with dialogue and situations that can seem somewhat racist and sexist to readers today. Cooper's fans have credited him for populating his crew with a diverse group of people, yet the novel seems dated with the degree to which they oftentimes dwell on their racial backgrounds. No character embodies this better than Kurt Kwango. The team ecologist, he is credited with being the smartest member of the group and is often at the heart of the action (he's not even the first character to die). Yet he seems obsessed with race to a degree more befitting someone of the 20th century than Cooper's supposedly more enlightened future. It's a problem that detracts from what it otherwise an enjoyable sci-fi adventure, making it more a product of its time than one that, like many of the best works of the genre, rises above it to become a truly timeless work.
Don't let the silly title fool you. The Deathworms of Kratos was great. A team of 7 men and women with varied notorious backgrounds and skills travel 17 light years to the first potentially habitable planet discovered by earthbound astronomers.
It is classic pulp science fiction at its best. Characters that you will enjoy and a writing style that will draw you in despite its straightforward delivery. Books like this are the reason I started reading science fiction in the first place.
If you enjoy classic, old style Science Fiction by authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edmund Hamilton, Poul Anderson, Barrington J. Bayley, EE Smith, Jack Williamson and Murray Leinster then you will love The Deathworms of Kratos.
Keep in mind, the other review listed here (by Shantell) was by someone who didnt do her research before selecting this novel. Thus she gave it one star. She was perhaps hoping for a weird, complicated, in depth examination of the human soul within the context of some gender bending futuristic societal structure ... blah blah blah. Yes, some people like that stuff, dont ask me why. I dont.
2006 March 28
To give you an idea of the book's tone, I'll quote you an excerpt. This is in reference to Elizabeth James, an Expendable who gets killed by one of those oogly worms. The first town is being built for colonists who are enroute, and the team are discussing what the town should be named:
"It will be called Jamestown, in memory of Liz. Someday, I hope, someone will put up a statue of Elizabeth James in the main square. In fact we will require it. And the inscription will read: Elizabeth James, Expendable, who died proving Kratos."
"If he doesn't get the [...] right," said Andreas with feeling, "I'll come back to this place and stamp all over him. Liz was a great woman. She had magnificent [...]."
Why wasn't this made into a movie? I'd love to see Crow, Joel, and Tom Servo lambasting it!