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Sojan the Swordsman/Under the Warrior Star (Planet Stories Double Features) [Paperback]

Joe R. Lansdale
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

30 Nov 2010 Planet Stories Double Features
Michael Moorcock's Sojan The Swordsman evisits the author's veryfirst published character, the original incarnation of the Eternal Champion!Rewritten and expanded from its original appearance in Moorcock's self-publishedTarzan Adventures fanzine, this tale of swordplay, airships, and bizarrelandscapes sees the hero Sojan and his beloved Princess Noothar encounteringstrange races of men and even stranger monsters in a fast-paced adventure in thetradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett.Joe R. Lansdale's Under the Warrior Star is the tale of Brax Hooker,a freelance journalist whose world travels in search of adventure lead him to asecret laboratory in the Rocky Mountains where a rogue scientist is attemptingto create a universe in minature. Having come to believe his life has lostmeaning, Brax agrees to be the first traveler into this new Universe, venturinginto a forest world of strange plants, weird creatures, and deadly warriors.There Brax leads a life of adventure, discovering danger, a ton of surprises,and the love of his life under the hazy blue light of an alien sun.

Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Paizo Publishing, LLC. (30 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601252889
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601252883
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 15.5 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 970,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jekyll & Hyde 3 Dec 2010
By John Middleton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is an experiment for Planet Stories, two 70-80 page novellas by different authors in the manner of an old Ace Double. Does it work? Well, only insofar as the stories are any good. One is, and one is..not so good.

As a 15 or 16 year old, Michael Moorcock wrote some Sojan short stories for a fanzine. This is a collection of those stories, apparently somewhat revised. It's not great - the characters are less than one-dimensional, the narration inconsistent, and the setting contradictory - in the space of a few pages Sojan refers to his boss as "War-King" and "Emporer", and implies both hereditary succession and election to the position. Each 2-3 page chapter is almost a standalone story.

For a brief while, it rises above itself when Sojan crosses the Demon Sea and confronts the evil priests of Rhan and the Old Ones. This pretty obviously draws heavily from work of H P Lovecraft, and then Robert E Howard's Tower of the Elephant Conan tale.

In the introduction to the book, Erik Mona points out that Moorcock's first thoughts on republishing Sojan were that it would be a mistake. I would say that Moorcock should have followed his initial instinct and let this stuff fade into obscurity, or rewritten it to a much greater degree than he did.

Under the Warrior Star is the better story of the two, for all that follows the "sword & planet" formula - set out by Mona in his introduction - precisely. Brax is a modern Earthman who stumbles across a secret Government facility in the wilds of Alaska and becomes a human guinea pig to be sent into an experimental man made universe. There is a planet there, which is both strangely Earthlike and strangely not (for instance, the Earth is actually a giant tree).
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Amazon.com: 2.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jekyll & Hyde 3 Dec 2010
By John Middleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an experiment for Planet Stories, two 70-80 page novellas by different authors in the manner of an old Ace Double. Does it work? Well, only insofar as the stories are any good. One is, and one is..not so good.

As a 15 or 16 year old, Michael Moorcock wrote some Sojan short stories for a fanzine. This is a collection of those stories, apparently somewhat revised. It's not great - the characters are less than one-dimensional, the narration inconsistent, and the setting contradictory - in the space of a few pages Sojan refers to his boss as "War-King" and "Emporer", and implies both hereditary succession and election to the position. Each 2-3 page chapter is almost a standalone story.

For a brief while, it rises above itself when Sojan crosses the Demon Sea and confronts the evil priests of Rhan and the Old Ones. This pretty obviously draws heavily from work of H P Lovecraft, and then Robert E Howard's Tower of the Elephant Conan tale.

In the introduction to the book, Erik Mona points out that Moorcock's first thoughts on republishing Sojan were that it would be a mistake. I would say that Moorcock should have followed his initial instinct and let this stuff fade into obscurity, or rewritten it to a much greater degree than he did.

Under the Warrior Star is the better story of the two, for all that follows the "sword & planet" formula - set out by Mona in his introduction - precisely. Brax is a modern Earthman who stumbles across a secret Government facility in the wilds of Alaska and becomes a human guinea pig to be sent into an experimental man made universe. There is a planet there, which is both strangely Earthlike and strangely not (for instance, the Earth is actually a giant tree). While there he inexplicably gains superhuman speed and strength, meets fellow more or less men, and of course, a woman (in a chapter helpfully titled "The Woman").

There is then an adversary to overcome: The One, an odious plant hive mind that has giants for slaves and captures and devours humans. Brax uses his unique Earthly knowledge to good effect, and heads off to the inevitable confrontation...and I'll stop there, so as to avoid spoilers.

Yes, the story is formulaic, but the telling is good and has a few wrinkles: rather than try to explain everything, the first person narrator sometimes just shrugs and says "I don't know". This works better than getting bogged down in detailed mumbo-jumbo, and lets the plot and action continue. The story does not raise issues of existential angst: it just offers a few hours of escapist reading pleasure.
2.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Done Better 7 Feb 2013
By Johnanon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sojan the Swordsman: I have read a number of novels by Michael Moorcock and have been impressed by the quality of his talent as an author. I'm sad to say that Sojan the Swordsman failed to meet my expectations. In the Author's Note before the introduction Mr Moorcock explains Sojan was written when he was a teenager and this, in my opinion, probably explains the lack of quality. Personally speaking, I think Mr Moorcock should have either extensively rewritten Sojan or left it unpublished.

Under the Warrior Star: This story is better than Sojan, but not by much. Those seeking to emulate Burroughs' planetary romance novels have a challenging task, true (after all his novels are the gold standard), but even so I cannot help but feel that, overall, this story lacks sufficient imagination. Aspects of it remind me of Lin Carter's "Green Star" series (far better, in my opinion) - specifically, the world of giant trees. In all fairness there are aspects of originality, but sadly not enough to make this a noteworthy story.
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