17 September 2010

Mike Resnick - A Hunger in the Soul

  • Author: Mike Resnick
  • Title: A Hunger In The Soul
  • Publisher: Tor 1998
  • ISBN: 978 0312854386
A Hunger In The Soul is an adventure tale about an exploration team seeking a missing scientist on an unexplored planet full of hostile aliens and strange creatures. I desperately want to find something else to say about this book that isn't negative. But I can't.

The writing is perfectly fine. (Oh, I found another one!) There is absolutely nothing technically wrong with this book, and if I had not already seen the movie a dozen times as a kid, or read the book already, it quite possibly would have been quite fun. Allow me to explain.

This book is essentially the movie King Solomons Mines (1950)* crossed with the story of Doctor Livingstone, with rifles relaced with lasers, native bearers replaced with alien porters, the newspaper that employs the journalist replaced with tri-v. The tale of an asshole who employs a slightly jaded but otherwise outstanding expedition leader. They clash constantly, but the good guy always backs down. The asshole treats the porters badly, and uses racist epithets to abuse them. The superiour technology of the Empire saves the day when the restless natives attack the party. Despite the dangers and tribulations, they finally reach their goal (at this stage the natives have either been killed, murdered or have run away before this crazy white fucker gets them killed, or murders them) but the outcome is entirely unexpected.

Resnick even went so far as to have his humans come from the Democracy. This is 100% pastiche, but severely lacking the satirical edge that makes this kind of thing bearable for me. I hate to say it, but this book was a waste of time. Which is disappointing, because I usually really enjoy Resnick.

*Note: King Solomon's Mines is based on the novel by whoever wrote the Allan Quartermaine stories, a movie full of noble Englishmen and 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Jigaboo's' - so full of blatant racism and mysogyny that I can barely stand to think about it now. It was on TV every summer when I was a kid, and is essentially true to the novel excepting the addition of a female character in order to allow the heroic rescue sequences that appeared every few minutes.