Saturday, September 6, 2014

Book Review: The Goddess of Ganymede

It has been a while since we had a book review, so get ready to go to Jupiter and Beyond!

With the space race still ongoing, astronaut and soldier of fortune Adam Thane has agreed to take part in a secret mission-to land on either Mars or Jupiter! When he heads towards the gas giant, he discovers why previous missions have failed. He also discovers that the moon Ganymede is inhabited by strange races like the Kroths-a race of men with wings-and the standard beautiful princess, Delisse. Of course there is enemies aplenty, primarily the "God" Tarafolga, several battles and a goddess to win so our hero begins his quest...

Published in 1968, Michael Resnick's The Goddess of Ganymede was another entry in the sword and planet boom inspired by the rediscovery of Edgar Rice Burroughs and for the most part the book is an ERB pastiche from top to bottom. Resnick (who had already written The Forgotten Sea of Mars) doesn't attempt to hide the references, from our soldier of fortune hero who has superhuman strength to the beautiful woman desired by everyone to strange creatures, it's all there. Unfortunately it is also easy to see why Resnick has distanced himself from this book since it isn't very good either. The characters fail to develop beyond one note and the setpieces have a derivative quality about them. In fact it almost plays like a "greatest hits" of ERB, from a section involving a "Chamber of Madness" (inspired by the similar chamber John Carter finds himself in The Warlord of Mars) to a religious "god" whose divinity hides evil to even the cliffhanger ending, anyone who has picked up a Burroughs novel will recognize the source.

It's not to say it's all bad. The book is a quick read-at 160 pages-and does deliver some rousing action scenes. The opening setup-with the space race-brings current events into the tale, even if the race to colonize Mars and Jupiter seems silly, and the scenes between Adam and Delisse have some nice spark to them.

If you're a fan of sword and planet fiction and can find it, The Goddess of Ganymede is a decent if unspectacular entry in the genre. It doesn't equal the best of ERB or other works but for what it is it's a decent time killer. Rating: **1/2 out of 4.

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