Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book Review: 'Ten Years to Doomsday' by Chester Anderson and Michael Kurland

2 / 5 Stars

‘Ten Years to Doomsday’ was first published in 1964; this Jove paperback (158 pp) was released in 1977. The cover illustration is well done, but unfortunately the artist is uncredited.
When a Federation ship encounters an alien vessel in deep space, it is fired upon, and forced to destroy the alien ship in self-defense. It turns out that the alien ship is a scout for a vast fleet piloted by a race known as the Migrants, who are devoted to the destruction of everything in their path. The main Migrant fleet is only a decade away from encroaching upon Federation space, and the planet most likely to be the first in the sweep of forthcoming destruction is Lyff- a world where  civilization molders at the medieval level.
Three Terran agents are sent to Lyff with daunting instructions: act covertly to provoke Lyffan civilization to advance to a point where it can offer a defense against the oncoming horde. And do it in just ten years.
At first the task assigned to John Harlen, Pindar Smith, and Ansgar Sorenstein seems hopeless: from bow-and-arrows to missiles in just a decade ? But it turns out that the people of Lyff have a remarkable ability to accept and improve upon new technologies, as well as an overarching religion that approves of advancement in all aspects of life. It may be a close call, but when the Migrant fleet enters the space around Lyff, there just might be a fleet in place to greet it…..
‘Ten Years’ is a humorous space opera, something of a parody of (or perhaps an homage to) the writings of Jack Vance. The Lyffans sport names like ‘Tchornyo Gar-Spolnyen Hiirlte’, and descriptions of Lyffan vestments use plenty of Vance-ian adjectives such as ‘vert’, ‘cadmium orange’, and ‘amethyst’.
Back in the mid-60s when it first appeared the story probably got a good reception, since this sort of light-hearted approach to SF was in vogue at the time. It’s a quick read, but there’s nothing in its pages that I can see modern-day readers getting excited over.

1 comment:

zybahn said...

According to the reliable ISFdb, the cover artist is R. Adragna.