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Berserker's Star (Saberhagen, Fred) Hardcover – June 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this plodding entry in veteran Saberhagen's Berserker series (Berserker's Planet, etc.), Harry Silver, whose main claims to fame are his oversized weaponry and his love of poetry, has a cargo of parts to sell. Unfortunately, the planet he has just landed on, Hong's World, is being evacuated because its sun is going nova. To make some money, Harry agrees to take two businessmen/smugglers and the sweet if somewhat dimwitted Lily Gunnlod (who's seeking her errant husband) on a trip to the planet Maracanda. That world, the novel's real star, is an "azlaroc-type habitable body" where, due to its proximity to a neutron star and a black hole, the normal laws of the universe don't hold. When Harry's ship is confiscated on arrival, an old associate, Kul Bulaboldo, promises Harry that, in exchange for a little unspecified help, Kul will get Harry's ship back. As they travel across the planet's surface, Harry, Kul and Lily contend with such phenomena as rocks that perambulate, extreme gravities and narcotic soil, when not running afoul of the agents of the Berserker machines, AIs that want to exterminate all living creatures, starting with humanity. Readers will enjoy Harry's acts of derring-do, but the lengthy descriptions of Maracanda's bizarre properties grow tiresome.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Space adventurer Harry Silver returns in this latest entry in Saberhagen's immensely, deservedly popular Berserker saga. A woman charters Silver's ship Witch of Endor to rescue her husband from a cult on the planet Macaranda. After foiling two attempts to kidnap him, Silver starts to suspect everything and everybody around him, including Bulaboldo, an old friend with large ambitions and few scruples. For instance, Bulaboldo depends on Macaranda's peculiar physics, gravity, and breakdown zones (areas in which modern technology won't work) for the success of his drug-exporting ring. But besides providing Bulaboldo cover, those conditions may become the means by which so-called "goodlife" humans (i.e., Berserker sympathizers) can get a sufficient supply of antimatter to induce a catastrophic nova in the neutron star in the system that includes Macaranda. The good guys win in the end, but only after much suspense and action that grabs and holds even with Saberhagen's understated prose as their vehicle. Moreover, dark notes and surprises spice the moment of victory. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Saberhagen, Fred
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765304236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765304230
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,625,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Fred Saberhagen (1930-2007) is widely published in many areas of speculative fiction. He is best known for his Berserker, Swords, and Dracula series. Less known are the myth-based fantasies Books of the Gods. Fred also authored a number of non-series fantasy and science fiction novels and a great number of short stories. For more information on Fred, visit his website: www.fredsaberhagen.com.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patrick J. Callahan on February 24, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first berserker novel I have read in several years. I found it quite entertaining, largely for the quite extraordinary stellar system, which consists of a black hole, a neutron star "pulsar," and a "habitable body" called Maracanda. This place is NOT a planet, as several characters keep repeating almost as a mantra.

The concept -- for the sake of entertainment at least -- is that the gravitational distortions of massive objects in a tight orbit have created weirdness on the habitable portion of Maracanda. Traveling around or adventuring on Maracanda is quite an experience of time and space dilation.

The characterization is not very deep for the most part, although the protagonist Harry came to life pretty well for me. He is part rogue and part "the last honest man." There's a kind of love linkage in the character of Lily, although the author never really has time or room to build this into too much. Really, Harry's first love is his intelligent ship, the Witch. The ship is actually a better developed character than some of the characters.

As a very "fun read," I give this book pretty good marks. As for quality, I think the author succeeded in creating an imaginary place that is -- ta ta! -- ORIGINAL and that keeps you guessing.

The berserkers are a fun concept -- a bit like the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica or the "replicators" in SG-1. In short, legion of self-replicating robots with the gone-wrong mission imperative of exterminating all life. These are not original, but they make pretty good -- and scary -- villains. Because in the war with the berserkers, it appears mankind is LOSING . . .

If you want a fun read that keeps you turning pages, and some very original ideas spun off of Einstein's relativity and astrophysics -- I think you will like this. It is not "War and Peace" but it is fun -- and good of its kind.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Valdivielso on April 1, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
An almost-planet, trapped between a black hole and a neutron star, this is the last place youi would think Harry
Silver would end up at. But being on the run from the Space Force makes for an interesting life and, as he is always looking for more adventure, he agrees to take some passengers to this world.
Little did he know he would have to deal with the Space Force, drug smugglers, missing persons and, of course, berserkers.
366 pages, very focused, much better than the last few Berserker books. Still, I would of liked more berserkers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Years ago, Saberhagen published a series of short stories on berserkers which collectively became classics. Since then, his productivity on this idea has slowed. But he recently released this book.

Sadly disappointing compared to his earlier work. Part of the reason may have been that his short stories intrinsically had to have tighter focus. Here, the plot meanders over a zany unearthly landscape. Perhaps Saberhagen was trying to show his ability in fashioning a truly bizarre arena. But it was hard to identify with any of the characters.

Though the main character shows some potential. Akin to the Stainless Steel Rat, Slippy Jim diGriz, in Harry Harrison's novels.

More to the point, people who read Berserker novels want to see descriptions of actions against the Berserkers. Not the tedious shilly shallying of this book.

Saberhagen is capable of far better than this sloppy rendition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 15, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fred Saberhagen is widely acknowledged as one of science fiction's foremost masters of military science fiction, especially with his acclaimed "Berserker" series. However, "Berserker's Star" is the worst installment I have seen so far, coming across as a poorly written "Star Trek" novel, than another exciting tome in Saberhagen's series. His two protagonists, Harry, the irascible merchant ship captain, and Lily, his passenger, didn't garner much enthusiasm or interest in either character from me. If you are a fan of Saberhagen's work, I would recommend skipping this novel and reading instead, his earlier, critically acclaimed works.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Foster on October 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Berserker's Star reads like a first draft and is badly in need of some editing. The plot drags through the first half of the book, and, even when it does pick up, it is convoluted and confused. The characters are not well-developed, and are, on the whole, rather uninteresting. Kul is an exception, but still he gets tedious. With only a brief role, General Pike may have been the best of the bunch. I grew all too tired of them. The story line is interesting, but hardly sufficient to hold this together. Still, I think that there is a great book in here that is fighting to get out, probably at about half the length. I read many of the books in this series years ago, and my recollection is that they were well-paced. It appears that established authors, like Saberhagen, don't feel compelled to really put in the kind of work necessary to create polished jewels, but are content with producing only rough cut stones, and coast on their name. Saberhagen has followed in the footsteps of Roger Zelazny and Tony Hillerman, to name a couple, who have failed to maintain the same level of storytelling as they had in their early works.
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By SM on September 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very interesting concept. Well written. I could read about this character some more. He had depth, struggled inwardly, and had to act. The reasons for acting were well internalized.
I have to say, Mr Sarberhagen's Berserker series are the best machine/replicator menace books.
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