The Deathworld Trilogy, Science Fiction
Book Club edition (1974). Cover by Richard Corben
James Nicoll recently reviewed Harry Harrison’s The Deathworld Trilogy on his blog, saying “The Deathworld books haven’t aged badly. They were dire in the 1960s and they are still dire.”
I still have fond memories of the first book in this series (which may or may not be dispelled by a reread). For one thing, it really made a case against hyper-militarism and environmental exploitation. Because it’s Harrison we’re talking about, the case was not subtle, but I think it was effective.
The second novel is a self-righteous, tedious morality play about a self-righteous, tedious character who has the misfortune to partake in a different morality than his self-righteous, tedious creator. The third book is a step up from that, because anything would be. The laziness of the worldbuilding pained me even as a teenager: a cartoony version of Harold Lamb’s version of Mongols, inexplicably transplanted to another planet. On the other hand, I always enjoyed Harold Lamb’s books about Mongols, so…
The first two books in the trilogy are in the public domain, apparently, and available through Project Gutenberg (the second under its original title of The Ethical Engineer).
The third volume, Deathworld 3 (a.k.a. THE HORSE BARBARIANS, a.k.a. I CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO CHANGE THE WORKING TITLE) doesn’t seem to be up there. But all three installments, and the omnibus volume collecting them, were reprinted many times during the age of heroically large print runs. They can be snapped up pretty cheaply through used book services, like ABE Books.
For those who want to snap them up, I mean. I can’t positively recommend them, although the first one is probably still worth reading at least once.