GARY ALAN RUSE – Death Hunt on a Dying Planet. Signet paperback original; 1st printing, October 1988.

   I picked this one up to read on the basis of not the author’s name, a fairly unknown one, even in science fiction circles, but the title and the cover, both of which promised something that I was looking for at the time.

   Namely, a good old fashioned space opera. It was exactly what I got. Marinda Donelson, a scientist on a colony ship to an alien planet is awakened 700 years after the rest of the passengers and crew have landed, and she finds herself the intense object of interest between two opposing parties. First, the University, based on a moon orbiting another planet, and CorSec, the present rulers of Coreworld, nearly decimated by plague and war and famine.

   You know. The usual. Marinda is rescued by a psybot named Roddi and a cyborg by the name of Vandal, but the three of them are soon forced to crash-land on Coreworld and make their way through all kinds of danger, evading mutants, monstrous war machines and the minions of CorSec, most prominently personified by Razer, a sworn enemy of Vandal.

   Also on the ground are a group of other psybots with all kind of powers who are working incognito for the University. Their task: join forces with Marinda and the others, making their way through all kind of danger, evading mutants and all of the above. Giving them a huge assist, however, is a itinerant master of legerdemain (human) named Dr. Arcanus.

   I needn’t tell you more (but there is more, just under 400 pages of more, with a very neat tidying up at the end and just a hint of more adventures to come, which however never happened). To me, this read like a attempt to channel Edgar Rice Burroughs with the added bonus of more than a dash of video game stratagems and firepower. Lots of firepower.

   As for the writing itself, if I’d have read this when I was sixteen, I’d have thought it was the best book I’d ever read. I didn’t think so now, but as I said up above, it was exactly what I was looking for when I was looking, and I enjoyed it.