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Denner's Wreck [Paperback]

Lawrence Watt-Evans


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars quick delightful read 5 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I thought this book was pretty cool. A bunch of vacationing misfits from an ultra advanced civilization take up residence for a couple of hundred years on an out of the way planet. They are interpreted by the locals, ancestors of a colony ship that wrecked on the planet about 600 years ago as gods similar to those in greek and roman mythology. The locals are primitive, technologically speaking, and with their superior technology this group of vacationers basically lead experience self indulgence to the fullest. the plot is quite simple, one of these vacationers, who was a deposed galactic emperor thousands of years ago wants to rebuild his empire, using the planet of "short-lifers" (technologically deprived) as a starting point. Most of the immortals (who really just rely on all kinds of neat gadgets) are mostly all too complacent and wrapped up in their own twisted worlds as demi-gods to care much about it. A short-lifer and one of the demi-gods know has "Gest" (for his penchant for playing pranks, the equivalent of Pan I would say) stumble onto this empire building scheme and attempt to foil it. In the course of trying to recruit help and stop the would be conqueror, the short-lifer, Aredon, learns the secrets of the immortals and simultaneously changes the snobbish viewpoint the vacationers have held of the locals.
Anyway, there are some cool ideas like bent space storage, skull liner computers, and AI's and other techniques the vacationers use to live in a world of total indulgence. At the beginning of each chapter, a story told in the form of a myth, or encounter with a god, is told from the perspective of the local storyteller describing an encounter with one of the "gods"
I found it randomly at a used bookstore and am glad to have read it. If you see it, pick it up!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A light, well-done, entertaining short novel, by Lawrence Watt-Evans 19 May 2006
By Peter D. Tillman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a light, well-done, entertaining short novel that reads like a
cross between a good Andre Norton and the Lord of Light Zelazny. The
setup is familiar: hi-tech immortal humans (the Powers) are lording it
over lo-tech tribesmen. Here, the immortal Powers are, well, really,
*really* powerful (see Zelazny), but bored, so a few of them went
looking for a lost colony as a lark. They found the colonists, liked
their world, and some of them found out they liked being Gods. But
mostly they relaxed into a nice, slow, 400-year vacation. Until one of
the oldest, meanest, weirdest immortals decides he'd really like to rule
a galactic empire...

Fortunately the old weirdo is pretty dumb, and is brought to heel by a
plucky tribesman and a sneaky immortal. One could quibble with some of
the story logic, but that seems pointless in a book that so nicely
accomplishes its goal of entertaining the reader for a few hours.

Anyway, if you like Norton & Zelazny, you should look for Denner's Wreck.

Recommended.

I read this based on a *very* enthusiastic review from Steve Parker [G00GLE]:

[quote] I don't know exactly *why* I like it so much...it's an excellent
story, great characters, very well told, but there are other books
done similarly well that I don't love so much. I like the theme, but
there've been other with the same theme. I dunno.

I'm giving it an A+, with the caveat that I realize not everyone will
be as affected by _Denner's Wreck_ as I am. [end quote]

Happy reading--

Peter D. Tillman
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Light, well-done, entertaining short novel 14 Oct 2003
By Peter D. Tillman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a light, well-done, entertaining short novel that reads like a
cross between a good Andre Norton and the Lord of Light Zelazny. The
setup is familiar: hi-tech immortal humans (the Powers) are lording it
over lo-tech tribesmen. Here, the immortal Powers are, well, really,
*really* powerful (see Zelazny), but bored, so a few of them went
looking for a lost colony as a lark. They found the colonists, liked
their world, and some of them found out they liked being Gods. But
mostly they relaxed into a nice, slow, 400-year vacation. Until one of
the oldest, meanest, weirdest immortals decides he'd really like to rule
a galactic empire...

Fortunately the old weirdo is pretty dumb, and is brought to heel by a
plucky tribesman and a sneaky immortal. One could quibble with some of
the story logic, but that seems pointless in a book that so nicely
accomplishes its goal of entertaining the reader for a few hours.

Anyway, if you like Norton & Zelazny, you should look for DW.
Recommended.

Happy reading--
Peter D. Tillman
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light-hearted, with a serious message 13 Sep 2001
By David J. Lodge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Arthur C. Clarke said "and sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishible from magic." Denner's Wreck takes that concept to the logical extreme.
Imagine, if you will, that a group of bored vacationers, made nearly immortal and omnipotent through technology, come upon a planet populated by the decendants of colonists who crashed there centuries earlier. This "native" population, which has reverted to hunter/gatherer and subsistance farmer society, views the newcomers as gods, and swiftly include these "Powers" in their mythology. If you can imagine that, you've got the premise for Denner's Wreck.
Several different stories some together to form a seamless tapestry which is a joy to read. One one level, Bredon the Hunter must come to terms with the idea that the gods he has grown up beliving in are merely people not unlike himself who posess sophisticated technology beyond anything he could have imagined. Intertwined with that are several moral issues: Are the "natives" of Denner's Wreck less human because they lack the technology? ... ...
The author laces all these ideas (and more) with a good dose of humor that makes the book a fun a surprisingly quick read. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who comes across a copy.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun pulp sci-fi novel, but more could have been done with the concept 31 Dec 2012
By Kenya Starflight - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Remember Arthur C. Clarke's words "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"? Well, take that one step further -- any sufficiently advanced civilization is indistinguishable from gods. A terrifying prospect, but considering that the Aztecs revered the Spanish conquerers as gods (at first), it's one that's all too plausible.

"Denner's Wreck" plays with this concept -- of humans granted their every whim, even immortality, via technology visiting a backwater world for an extended vacation, and the natives mistaking them for gods. And while it doesn't grapple with the implications of how such worship and power can be misused (save for a throwaway speech by a character towards the end), the concept does provide the backbone for an entertaining pulp sci-fi novel.

On Denner's Wreck (a planet so named because the "natives" are the descendents of the survivors of an ancient shipwreck), a young native hunter named Bredon falls prey to a trick by Geste the Trickster, one of the godlike Powers of the planet. Feeling guilty for duping Bredon, Geste offers to grant him a wish. When Bredon requests a face-to-face meeting with Lady Sunlight, said to be the most reclusive and beautiful of the Powers, Geste is eager to fulfill the request, since it will give him an opportunity to prank Lady Sunlight as well. Neither native nor Trickster realize that Bredon's wish will uncover a conspiracy to destroy the Powers... and reveal to Bredon the true nature of the "gods."

As stated before, "Denner's Wreck" mostly avoids exploring his topic in depth, and thus misses out on the opportunity to start some thought-provoking discussions on various issues -- the nature of godhood, the dangers of colonialism, and whether it's best to use higher technology to aid a less-developed civilization or to let them develop at their own pace, to name a few. Denner's Wreck is fairly slim for a novel (indeed, at 200 pages it's almost novella-length), so I believe there could have been plenty of room for exploration without bogging down the story.

Despite this, though, I highly enjoyed "Denner's Wreck." It's a rip-roaring adventure story, with likable heroes and an appropriately sinister villain, and the snippets of mythology -- in particular the tales of the Powers that grace the beginning of each chapter -- give just enough of a mystical feel that we can identify with Bredon's awe and wonder at coming face to face with the "gods." That, and it's always heartening to read a tale of an underdog among heroes, and to see the underdog come out on top.

A good, fun pulp novel, nothing deep but enjoyable for when you just want a mindless but enjoyable sci-fi read.
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