Interstellar Empire

by John Brunner
Reviewed date: 2020 Dec 26
Rating: 3
256 pages
cover art

It's a fixup novel. No, not even a fix-up. It's three stories in the same universe packaged together as a novel. The first two are decent if unremarkable; John Brunner is a competent writer when he's cranking out stories for money instead of striving for masterpieces.

But the third story.

It's bad.

It reminds me of the worst traits of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Andre Norton, H.P. Lovecraft, and E. E. Doc Smith shoveled into one steaming pile of words. It's got every cliche, every sloppy writing shortcut, every unfair author's trick. Despite that, Brunner's talent does show through--it's just very rough work.

The third story is actually Brunner's first story ever, written when he was seventeen years old. It shows. But fortunately Brunner is supremely talented and his skill quickly caught up to his ambition.

It's not a great read in itself, but it's worth it for a look at this early Brunner story. I find it intriguing to see how even in his first story--which is bad--his talent is evident.

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