The steel of Raithskar
(Randall Garrett & Vicki Ann Heydron, 1981)

This is one of those stories in which the hero starts off knowing little more about himself or his situation than does the reader. This is such a useful device that it crops up again and again, even outside sf, where the condition is normally achieved via amnesia.

Essentially a straightforward adventure story with a few unusual elements, it's competently told, the story flows, characterisation is light but fairly agreeable.

Some superficial resemblances could lead to this book being described as a pale imitation of Dune. If the two must be compared, I'd rather say that this is less pretentious, its characterisation is less crude, and its choice of wildlife more tasteful (Garrett & Heydron go for cats, Herbert for giant worms). Like Dune, this is the first of a series of novels.

Originally published in Thurb 5 in February 1985