Escape from Loki Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jan 1991
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Alas, oddly enough, Farmer doesn't actually seem to really get the character of Doc Savage, or rather, he doesn't quite know how to write a true Doc Savage tale. There are neat ideas here, yes, and I don't have the reflexive distaste for some elements of this story that I've heard others speak of...but it's just not that engaging a read. It bored me. And I, a hoarder of books, especially adventure novels, actually traded it in to my local used book store for credit.
I can't recommend it, particularly now, when the far superior original Savage pulp tales are being released once more. If you want Doc Savage adventure, go find the Nostalgia Ventures books and read the real thing, not this.
Here is a sixteen year old Doc Savage, set in a viseral World War I, with great fun and adventure, lots of flying and narrow escapes, and even a simple recipe for making a seismograph. Great stuff. But there are a hundred books about Clark Savage Jr.'s strengths. Here, he's a kid, so we see Farmer examine his weaknesses. He's got lots of strengths, but in anyone our flaws are more interesting, more fun, more fascinating.
Philip Jose Farmer is one of the last great science fiction authors. Back in the 70's sci-fi was spit on and degraded by critics. Philip Jose Farmer is right up there with Heinlein, Clark, Asimov, Lem. But I like the fan boy in him. You see that in "Escape From Loki," which was a real prison for hardcases in World War I, a salt mine. Farmer gives it a great villain, right up there with Doc's best, as well as a possible biological weapon.
There's a seductress, too. (!)
Doc's aircraft is brought down behind enemy lines. He's on the run, but is eventually captured. He is thrown into Loki, a prison camp where they send all of the troublesome pows who escaped from other prison camps. Think the Great Escape, but World War I, not World War II.
In the camp Doc meets his future aides, and also crosses the mysterious warden of the prison camp. He's also become the target of the warden's paramore. She's a beautiful ivory skinned woman, who wants nothing more but to get her hands on Doc.
Farmer absolutely knocks it out of the park with this novel. He writes a fast paced pulp adventure, but in a modern style. A very well written book, and tightly plotted.