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Iron Thorn Paperback – 28 Feb 1980

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Distribution Services; New edition edition (28 Feb. 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006154107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006154105
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,250,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

1st Fontana 1980 paperback edition vg+ In stock shipped from our UK warehouse

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This story literally hits the ground running, with our hero White Jackson hunting a Amsir (the indefinite article is a foible of his dialect) across a desert. He must stay within sight of the Iron Thorn, a clearly ancient man-made tower, or he won't be able to breathe. This limited environment is the first microcosm that Jackson explores and then abandons. His small tribe huddling around the Thorn with their frozen culture do not satisfy him, and in due course he breaks away to the next worldlet on his journey, the city of the flying Amsirs themselves.

It is less these imagined societies than Jackson himself that forms the subject matter of the book. Jackson's other names change several times, reflecting his restless inability to conform to social roles. He has no time for fakery, tradition or authority, ultimately finding even the world of the Thorn's creators a pointless mummers parade. Incidentally an accomplished artist, he has perhaps too sharp an eye for reality for his own good: "To me I am the only sane man conceivable."

Budrys is a neglected but very fine writer of SF, and even his lesser works, like this one, have a distinctive metaphysical edge. Here he shows us a rational man who will brook no nonsense, a modern post-Enlightenment man despite his upbringing in a backward society, and shows us too how that admirable hunger for truth makes peace of mind impossible. A far-future "Catcher In The Rye", it's a tight, thoughtful, slightly worrying book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
What’s wonderful about this book is the truly alien landscape, and the intriguingly strange society, that we are initially presented with. This is science fiction at its most inventive. It was therefore a huge let down for everything to then suddenly reset into a mundane explanation and much more familiar setting.

However all is not lost and that mundane setting itself starts to peel away to reveal a society that is almost as odd as the first one we meet. Clearly the reader is meant to make the very same contrast but this third section of the book still doesn’t match the imagery of the first section which is probably why the last couple of pages is drawn back to those first images.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
a good story which faded towards the end as though the author had run out of ideas and gave up
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 1.5 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Strange and not quite enough 23 April 2010
By hrladyship - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Algis Budrys has been hailed as one of the great sf writers of his time. Nominated for several awards, his overall production of fiction, however, was small in comparison to the likes of Asimov, Clarke, or Heinlein. That may be the reason he is not as well known. Yet he is often ranked as their equal. The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn does not seem to live up to that reputation. As another reviewer observed, the story is not coherent, the author seemingly undecided as to what story he wants to tell.

The relationship between Amsirs and humans is at first complicated and full of contradictions. It deteriorates into a king of the hill conflict, then is suddenly over. A new life -- or story -- begins, aided by an instant education machine that gives Jackson, the protagonist, a leap into the truth of everything. It seems a cheat, but is this due to the fiction that has been written and read in the intervening 40 years?

Then the relationship between men and women, male and female, does not show balance or even the tensions between the sexes that existed at the time of the writing of this book. Females exist for the pleasure of the males and for no other reason. But, in truth, none of the characters, nor even the species, exist for any particular reason. Rogue Moon, considered Budrys's best work, is a better read.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Potential Never Met 28 Sept. 2007
By Robert Wanka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My impression while reading this book . . . odd . . . the author seems to be jumping around with several ideas none of which he seems able to bring to a satisfying conclusion.

It seemed to me that the author's imagination lost steam past the initial introduction of the story. I think this book could have been so much more if Algis Budry had spent more time developing his characters and the world they inhabited, the potential was there but instead he chose to dive into relativist philosophy and even "art speak". It was a shame he never fully explored the predicaments, pit falls or plusses of human bioengineering and technologies attempts to eek out an existence on the hostile planet of Mars. Perhaps it was just simpler to wave a magic wand and turn the human condition into a fairy land of intellects grand desires.

It was Frank Frazzetta's art work that captured the promise the potential of Algis Budrys novel. For me, Algis Budrys book failed to meet that potential because he chose to go gallivanting off on a philosophical tangent. Life on another world and the human conditions attempt to survive it would have made this a gripping and memorable science fiction novel, but that would take more imagination.
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