Berserker Man

by Fred Saberhagen
Series: Berserker 4
Reviewed date: 2005 Sep 12
Rating: 3
219 pages
cover art

Berserkers are machine constructs dedicated to the eradication of all life in the universe. Built eons ago by an unknown creator, berserkers now roam the galaxy fighting the forces of mankind in a struggle for total supremacy.

Now mankind has a new weapon: Codename Lancelot. But using Lancelot takes a special kind of mind, a one-in-a-hundred billion kind of mind, a kind of mind that is unique to eleven-year-old Michel Geulincx. So Michel is drafted and taught to use Lancelot.

Berserker Man is an interesting story and a good read. My two complaints are 1) the existential ending does not fit with the rest of the book, and 2) the main character is a child savior. Now I don't mind children as characters, but no eleven-year-old child--no matter how bright--has the emotional maturity to fight a war as Michel Geulincx does. The Child Hero ought to be a wholly different sort of savior, but Michel Geulincx is merely a regular hero who Saberhagen tells us is eleven years old. There is nothing child-like about Michel. Still, it's a good story.

At the end of the book is a pretentious little essay by Sandra Miesel called "Life and Death in Dreadful Conflict Strove." It uses big words to dress up Saberhagen's Berserker stories as some fancy literature. It has a few interesting points, but mostly it is an over-analysis of Saberhagen's clever stories.

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