Tuesday, October 20, 2015


I finished reading WORLD WITHOUT STARS (1966) by Poul Anderson the other day. This slim (125 pages) little Ace paperback is the kind of stuff I used to read all of the time when I was a kid. Books like this were everywhere back in the '60s and '70s.

Behind a nice Kelly Freas cover painting, WORLD WITHOUT STARS (first serialized in ANALOG as THE ANCIENT GODS), is pretty standard, interplanetary action/adventure fare. The crew of the star ship Meteor crash lands on a planet that exists in the space between galaxies so that, instead of a sun and moon in the planet's sky, there is only one huge galaxy. The astronauts quickly set about to make repairs on their ship but they soon encounter two different species of intelligent alien life who are at war with each other. The men try to negotiate their way out of their predicament at first but when that fails, they resort to weapons. The conflict is resolved, repairs are made and the ship returns to Earth for a lovely coda that contains this verse:

"Sleep well once again if you woke in your darkness, sleep knowin' you are my delight
As long as the stars wheel the years down the heavens, as long as the lilies bloom white,
My darlin', I kiss you goodnight."

WORLD WITHOUT STARS is a good, fast read. It's no masterpiece or classic work of science fiction but it's a durable, tightly crafted novel with a story that, if written for today's marketplace, would be expanded and padded out to encompass three or more thousand-plus page volumes. They don't write 'em like this anymore.

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