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Encyclopedia > Deathworld

Deathworld is the name of a trilogy of science fiction novels by Harry Harrison consisting of the books Deathworld (first published 1960, anthologized in Astounding Science Fiction), Deathworld 2 (1964) and Deathworld 3 (1968). The central hero is a gambler who becomes involved with colonists of an extremely hostile planet. Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... At the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, August 2005 Harry Harrison (born Henry Maxwell Dempsey, March 12, 1925 in Stamford, Connecticut) is an American science fiction author who has lived in many parts of the world including Mexico, England, Denmark and Italy. ... Astounding Stories was a seminal science fiction magazine founded in 1930. ...

There are several hints that the novels take place in the same universe as Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat series; however, other hints suggest a similar universe but not exactly the same one. For example, at several points in the Deathworld series, the novels mention the Special Corps with Inskipp as its leader; however, the story The Mothballed Spaceship mentions an armada about to attack Earth - a planet that is long gone in The Stainless Steel Rat universe. The Stainless Steel Rat refers to a fictional character and the series of novels involving the character. ... This article is about Earth as a planet. ...



Deathworld centers on Jason dinAlt, a professional gambler who uses his somewhat erratic telekinetic abilities to tip the odds in his favor. He is challenged by a man named Kerk Pyrrus (who turns out to be the ambassador from the planet Pyrrus) to turn a large amount of money into an immense sum by gambling at a government-run casino. He succeeds and survives the planetary government's desperate efforts to steal back the money. In a fit of ennui, he decides to accompany Kerk to his home, despite being warned that it is the deadliest world ever colonized by humans.

Pyrrus is very dense, with a gravity of 2 g; its high axial tilt contributes to the severe weather and massive tides; and it is very tectonically active, with frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. To survive, the native plants and animals are extraordinarily deadly and evolve so quickly that even Kerk and his Pyrran crew have to be retrained upon their return in order to survive. The settlers are engaged every day in a ceaseless struggle for life -- which they are losing. Their numbers are less than when the planet was first colonized, and they are restricted to a single settlement. The world's very name is a reference to Pyrrhic victory, a success that comes at devastating cost to the victor. The term g force or gee force refers to the symbol g, the force of acceleration due to gravity at the earths surface. ... ... A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with devastating cost to the victor. ...

Jason learns that there is another group of humans living in harmony with the environment, without needing the advanced weapons that Jason's winnings have bought. The two factions despise each other. From this clue, Jason figures out that the native flora and fauna are telepathic, and that the humans' hostile thoughts are provoking the native life to attack ceaselessly.

Deathworld 2

ISBN 0-7221-4484-9

The paperback cover of Deathworld 2. 1964 Orbit Books edition.
The paperback cover of Deathworld 2. 1964 Orbit Books edition.

In Deathworld 2, Jason is kidnapped by a self-righteous enemy out to bring him to justice for his various crimes. He forces a crash-landing on a planet where the human population has regressed. The technology is extremely primitive and knowledge is split up among many small clans, each one jealously monopolizing what it knows. Jason uses his ingenuity to survive, trading his knowledge for protection and power in one of these clans. He constructs a device that is a primitive communication device in disguise; it eventually signals his location to a spaceship piloted by his Pyrran girlfriend, Meta. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...

Deathworld 3

In Deathworld 3, Jason invites those Pyrrans who cannot adapt to the changes on their home world to colonize "Felicity", a planet rich in mineral wealth, but home to humans who are divided into two primitive societies, reminiscent of early Asia. One is an agrarian society living in towns and cities; the other is composed of nomadic clans that constantly fight amongst each other, strongly reminiscent of the Mongols before they invaded China and settled down. The two are divided by an impassible, miles-high, continent-spanning cliff. Most of the warlike clans have recently been united under a wily leader calling himself Temujin. The name Mongols (Mongolian: Mongol) specifies one or several ethnic groups. ... For other uses, see Genghis Khan (disambiguation). ...

Jason tries to infiltrate the warrior society and use his Pyrrans to wrestle the leadership of the clans away from Temujin, but is unmasked as an off-worlder and thrown down a deep cave. He survives the fall, landing in a bank of snow and finds that it is a passageway through the cliff. Jason changes his plans and contacts Temujin, who takes him for an unkillable demon. Jason offers the barbarian leader his greatest wish, to conquer the rest of the continent. Temujin does indeed prove unstoppable, but is perceptive enough to realize, at the peak of his triumph, that he has to pay an enormous price for what he has won.

Continuations of the Deathworld series

The Mothballed Spaceship

In The Mothballed Spaceship, Jason and the Pyrrans are contracted by the government of Earth to reactivate an ancient mothballed battleship to defeat a hostile armada heading towards Earth. It is cheaper to use the battleship, a relic from the First Galactic War, than building a fleet from scratch. The ship itself is programmed to destroy any approaching object that does not provide the correct identification.

Jason and Kerk must race against time to enter the ship. Jason figures out a way to do this, but when they reach the control center, the computer starts a self-destruct sequence. Just in time, the right codeword is discovered by Meta and the computer cancels the self-destruct.

This was a short story featured in ASTOUNDING: The John W. Campbell Anthology which was published after the death of the famed, influential editor. The cover of , volume 1, with a picture of Campbell drawn by Frank Kelly Freas John Wood Campbell, Jr. ...

Return to Deathworld

The Return to Deathworld series is a collaboration between Harry Harrison and Russian author Ant Skalandis and has never been published in English. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...

In Return to Deathworld, a strange planetoid is detected heading for a densely-populated star cluster. Anybody who looks at it is overcome by irrational fear. The collective governing body of the cluster hires the Pyrrans to investigate and, if the planetoid is dangerous, destroy it. Things get complicated when the planetoid is discovered to arrive from another universe with different physical laws (e.g. π is exactly 2) and Jason and Meta get kidnapped by the insane master in control of the thing. When a circles diameter is 1, its circumference is Ï€. The mathematical constant Ï€ is an irrational real number, approximately equal to 3. ...

The second part of Return to Deathworld describes Jason's adventures at the galactic core, strangely mirroring the ancient myth of the Argonauts (including the fact that the hero is named Jason and the battleship's new name is Argo). The word mythology (from the Greek μυολογία mythología, from mythologein to relate myths, from mythos, meaning a narrative, and logos, meaning speech or argument) literally means the (oral) retelling of myths – stories that a particular culture believes to be true and that use the supernatural to interpret natural events and... The Argo, by Lorenzo Costa In Greek mythology, the Argonauts (Ancient Greek: ) were a band of heroes who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest for the Golden Fleece. ... Jason (Greek: Ιάσων, Etruscan: Easun) was a hero from Greek mythology. ... The Argo, painting by Lorenzo Costa In Greek mythology, the Argo was the ship on which Jason and the Argonauts sailed from Iolcus to retrieve the Golden Fleece. ...

In Deathworld vs. Filibusterers, the remains of the defeated armada (mentioned in The Mothballed Spaceship) turn to piracy under the leadership of one Henry Morgan. Jason dinAlt is hired by the same casino he won a fortune from at the start of the series to steal back the money Morgan took from the casino. Jason's plan fails when he and Meta are captured by Morgan's men and taken to their hidden planet. In no time, Jason makes up another daring plan - lead the pirates to Pyrrus for a pirate-Pyrran face-off. Sir Henry Morgan (Hari Morgan in Welsh), (ca. ... Sir Henry Morgan (Hari Morgan in Welsh), (ca. ... Morgan is both a given name and a surname, as well as the name of many places. ...

In The Creatures from Hell, strange eruptions occur all over a semi-backward planet. Unknown creatures are seen rising from the lava. As usual, the planetary authorities turn to Pyrrus for help. As the Pyrrans begin to investigate, the truth is revealed about the rulers of the planet and the crops they are growing there.

In Foes in Intelligence, the Roog civilization plans to invade Pyrrus. In order to ensure the success of the operation, they decide to kidnap one of the Pyrran leaders for study. As luck would have it, instead of their original target (Kerk Pyrrus), the Roogs kidnap Jason dinAlt - the only Pyrran who would even think of trying to convince the captors that "trade is better than war".

External Links

  • Deathworld page on Official website
  • Review on www.scifi.com

  Results from FactBites:
Bibliography: Deathworld 2 (52 words)
Deathworld 2 (1987, Ace, 0441142699, $2.95, 136pp, pb)
Deathworld 2 (1987, Sphere, 0722144849, L1.95, 160pp, pb)
Deathworld 2 (1991, Orbit, 0722144849, L3.50, 160pp, pb)
Classic Science Fiction Reviews (604 words)
Deathworld, the first installment of a trilogy that also included Deathworld 2 and (let's see if you can guess this) Deathworld 3, was space opera in a much purer form.
It has its resourceful hero, a sexy female whose assignment as official love interest is obvious from the moment of her first appearance, and a plot that hinges on scary monsters, hair's-breadth escapes and a solution that only the hero can see before it's too late.
Deathworld hasn't aged as well as much of Harrison's other work; the characters (especially Meta) are simplistic constructs at best, and the story possesses about as much lasting resonance as a tuning fork.
  More results at FactBites »



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