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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

There Is No Darkness

Copyright 1983 by Joe Haldeman and Jack C. Haldeman II

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this in 1986 and most recently on the 8th March 2002

Carl Bok is a citizen of Springworld, the heavy-gravity planet with monstrous and dangerous flora and fauna. Carl is well over two metres tall and weighs-in at 180 kilograms.

Now Carl has won a scholarship to Starschool. He'll spend a year on this touring school, visiting sixteen of the colonised planets. This will be the experience of a lifetime.

It's tough enough for Carl as the poor scholarship student among the rich kids. His problems get worse when they arrive at Earth. Carl finds himself in urgent need of big money and, since he's a pretty tough guy, becomes a paid fighter. He has to fight dangerous and deadly human and animal opponents. His fellow students, B'oosa, Miko, Alegria and Francisco "Pancho" Bolivar, get caught up in his exploits.

And then there are the aliens.

This is a coming-of-age novel. Our gentlemanly and naive country boy learns that the big city (in the guise of the various planets visited) can be a lot more unpleasant than he expected.

I enjoyed this more the first time I read it, back in the '80s. It's not one of the Haldemans' best novels. It also written for a younger audience than Joe's other books.

It's clearly a man's world in the future - the guys are rough and tough and apparently experienced at hand-to-hand fighting and the women are non-entities. It's rather sexless world (perhaps that's why the guys fight all the time?). It's also something of a contrived world and I couldn't for the life of me see why this group of students were so willing to go along with everything, at such risk to their health and life.

So what's it got? aliens, some fighting and a pretentious title. Pah.

Loaded on the 10th April 2002.
Cover of There Is No Darkness