Planet of the Damned (A Sense of Obligation) (1961) by Harry Harrison

PlanetoftheDamnedCaution: Some cognitive dissonance may result when a tale of a macho hero, who one-handedly saves a planet while armed with guns and muscles and toughness and stuff, simultaneously triumphs scientific humanism, empathy, non-violence and cooperation.

Planet of the Damned is a tale with heart, but that heart is buried under the bulging pectoral muscles of a cardboard hero. It’s high brow scifi for the low brow geek.

Brion Brandd (that’s Branduh-duh) has just won the Twenties, the Anvharrian Olympics of mind and might– a true competition for the Renaissance man: chess, wrestling, sword-fights, poetry, etc. But Ihjel, a former Twenties victor, immediately recruits Brion for a mission to help save the planet of Dis from suicidal destruction. With Ihjel as his mentor, Brion discovers he has innate empathic abilities, which he must use to understand the barbaric inhabitants of Dis. Brion and Lea, a knock-out Terran biologist, work to stop the threats of nuclear annihilation between Dis and its neighboring enemy planet, the peace-loving, normally anti-violent, Nyjord. The pacifist Nyjordians set a deadline to destroy Dis unless the ruling Dis (Dissidents?) give up their cobalt bombs, (which are not pretty blue powder bombs, I checked). Continue reading