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Deathworld Paperback – March 11, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Harry Harrison is the author of numerous books including Make Room! Make Room!, Return to Eden, and The Stainless Steel Rat series. He lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: BenBella Books (March 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932100415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932100419
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,574,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I read this book when it first came out over 50 years ago.
Thomas M. Morgan
While it was written fairly simplistically (like a short story), it had a very interesting premise and good characters.
Brett P. Forsberg
The story is Jason trying to figure out how to make things right.
D. Blankenship

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Menes on October 10, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I started this story in an old issue of Astounding Stories that was kicking around - and was very happy to find the rest of it on Kindle. A quick read, really a novella. A solid page turner with lots of action, fun plot twists, and a satisfactory ending. If you like old Heinlein's I think you will like this.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Claire Connelly on May 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read and re-read my original paperback containing the three novels until it was tattered and torn. I recently received a shipment containing many of my old books, including this one. When I saw its condition, I wanted to replace it, but found it was out of print. Then I stumbled on a copy of this edition in a specialty bookstore and had to have it.

The books are classics -- the main character, Jason dinAlt, is a gambler and a scoundrel, with an ability to influence luck in his favor. He's recruited to help raise money for the inhabitants of Pyrrus, and has to follow the girl sent to arrange the deal to see the place for himself.

In the second book, dinAlt is kidnapped by a self-righteous man angry at his home planet's making dinAlt a hero, inspiring others to gamble. He plans to take dinAlt back to face trial, but things go awry and they both end up enslaved on a primitive desert world. DinAlt's luck and knowledge allow him to survive.

In the third and final book, many of the key people from Pyrrus join dinAlt in taming other planets. Their first assignment is a tough one, a planet of fierce nomadic warriors. DinAlt must learn their ways in order to defeat them.

This volume also includes "The Mothballed Spaceship", a short story featuring dinAlt and other Pyrrans not included in the original volume.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This was Harry Harrison's first novel and I can remember reading it in high school, when it originally appeared in ASTOUNDING (which is also why it's rather short for a novel). It was popular enough to engender a couple of sequels, though most fans probably identify Harry first with the "Stainless Steel Rat" series.

It's interesting, by the way, to read a science fiction novel written fifty years ago (and a bit appalling to realize that's how long it's been). For one thing, it always surprises me that virtually no SF author of that time predicted computers or any other form of digital electronics, and their idea of miniaturization was laughable by today's standards. The starship pilots do the math for plotting a hyperspace jump in their heads, assisted by a calculator. (Writing a decade earlier, Heinlein's pilots used slide rules.) You would expect folks like that to be experienced predictors, but it almost never happened.

Jason dinAlt is a professional gambler with a knack for winning far more often than he loses -- with the assistance of an undependable psi talent. He takes on a commission from a representative of the planet Pyrrus to build a very large take into a huge sum at the casino on another world, which he duly accomplishes. Pyrrus, he's told is the deadliest world ever to be colonized by humans and the money is crucial to its survival. Jason has basically run out of challenges in his life and after hearing this description, he decides to go and take a look for himself. And Pyrrus certainly lives up to its reputation: Every living thing there, from the microorganisms and the grass on up, seems intent on killing the colonists. And if the fauna and flora don't do you in, the tectonics and the climate will.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul in Cincy on August 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
I refer to Deathworld and the others in the triology everytime someone asks me to recommend a SF classic. Believe it or not, I still have the fan magazine where it was first published. Unfortunately, this was the high point of Harry Harrison's career. The Stainless Steel rat series was good (but should have died several volumes earlier), and so was Soylent Green; but Harrison never again captured the magic that was Deathowrld... and I believe I have read and own them all.

Imagine a planet where the grass has curved, needle sharp tips, you sit on a rock and the lichen tries to get you, all the animals have one thing in common - kill the human invaders. Imagine that to survive you need to attend a pre-school for colonists and your survival skills never extend beyond "first grade". This is Deathworld.

If you never read another SF, at least read his finest - Deathworld.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I actually have this in print and audiobook. Is it the best? No, but I liked the start and the tough guy natives. The book is sort of an early environmentalist screed, and the hero is not overly heroic, but I liked the grim world and the colony from hell the people live in.

Worth a read, especially for free.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Morgan on June 6, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book when it first came out over 50 years ago. I am ashamed to say that I probably wouldn't have tried it if it had cost anything, but, on reflection, I think it has to hold its place in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. (If there ever is such a thing.)

Deathworld was Harry Harrison's first novel. Previously, he had been an illustrator. Re-reading the book, I at first felt childish. "This beginning is silly and contrived," I thought. Well, of course it was. Jason DiNalt is an "Interstellar Gambler" and plans on playing at tables that are new to him. His edge is a keenly developed psi talent for precognition or some such ability that allows him to win. It seems that he has been noticed by the Ambassador of the planet Pyrrus (Deathworld) and is recruited to come to its aid. DiNalt accepts a large stake to earn house-breaking winnings. He accomplishes this, then he and the Pyrran shoot their way off the planet and take off for Pyrrus.

After they land, DiNalt decides to stay and is told he must go through the equivalent of Pyrran nursery school, since the native life forms are so dangerous and that he will have no chance of survival without training and conditioning. It seems that everything close to the capital city is malevolently dangerous, this on top of Pyrrus having one of the most un-inviting physical environments in the universe. (Gravity is twice as high so he weighs twice as much. Temperature goes to extremes--both of them--on any given day, etc.)

About the time Jason was to emerge from the nursery the short book (really more of a novella) had captured me and I was unable to even let my Kindle revert to screen-saver until I finished it, AND I KNEW AND REMEMBERED THE END.

It wasn't the best science fiction piece of all time.
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