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Planet of the Damned

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Author: Harry Harrison (Henry Maxwell Dempsey)
Published: 1962
Language: English
Wordcount: 56,738 / 166 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 70.7
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 14,899
Added to site: 2007.06.20 17368

Hugo nominated in 1962, originally published in Analog Science Fact-Science Fiction as "Sense of Obligation." Brion has just won the Twenties, a global competition to test achievements in 20 categories of human activities -- but before he can enjoy his victory he's forced to leave his homeworld to help salvage Dis, the most hellish planet in the galaxy.

Show Excerpt

both of these noble institutions without an instant's thought. All of you haven't a single thought for the past, for the untold billions who led the bad life as mankind slowly built up the good life for you to lead. Do you ever think of all the people who suffered and died in misery and superstition while civilization was clicking forward one more slow notch?"

"Of course I don't think about them," Brion retorted. "Why should I? I can't change the past."

"But you can change the future!" Ihjel said. "You owe something to the suffering ancestors who got you where you are today. If Scientific Humanism means anything more than just words to you, you must possess a sense of responsibility. Don't you want to try and pay off a bit of this debt by helping others who are just as backward and disease-ridden today as great-grandfather Troglodyte ever was?"

The hammering on the door was louder. This and the drug-induced buzzing in Brion's ear made thinking difficult. "Abstractly, I of course agree wi

Reader Reviews

Average Rating of 4 from 7 reviews: ****
JoJo Biggins

I guess the best way I can sum up this book is to say that it fails to meet the mark. It isn't terrible by any means, but it just isn't that good. There is too much conversation and description where action would have made things more interesting. The characters are dated and shallow. The ending is a total flop.

Muscular hero recruited to save planet. Must solve mystery of local people in order to do so. Ho hum.


As in his novel _Deathworld_, the author builds much of the story line around the idea of human physiological adaptations to alien environments. It was a pleasant surprise to find this Hugo-nominated book here. Thank you, manybooks!

Sardo Weems

Good adventure yarn. I liked that of the two worlds where the action took place, neither was a perfect Earth-type planet; both required mutations and/or symbiosis for humans to exist. Of course, everyone ended up speaking American.

The action was nonstop and seemingly futile as the hours counted down to the planet Dis' destruction.

Leah A. Zeldes

"What can one man possibly do against a fleet loaded with H-bombs?"

Quite a lot if he's brawny Brion Brandd, Winner of Anvhar. Harrison adds some biology to his fast-moving action, but this is a typical space opera of the 1950s and '60s, complete with romantic interest (restrained enough not to offend the teenage boys who were likely its main audience) and intrepid hero, fighting dauntlessly against all odds.

Goldfish Stew

This book has aged relatively well - apart from the derring do and sexual politics of the 60s looking more than a little dated. The story itself - of a misled people following a suicidal terrorist elite - fits today's environment as well as it fit the Cold War environment it was written for.

R Stephan

Fast agent action in a SF setting, influenced by the Cold War situation of the time. Well written and worth a read.


I thought this was pretty good for a pulpy space-adventure. Nothing mind blowing, but the writing was clear and it moved fast, and the action was good.



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Author of the Day

Howard Reiss
Howard Reiss an especially gifted storyteller with a knack for creating fully developed characters and original storylines. He recently published his 6th novel, The Texture of Love. The Old Drive-In, Howard Reiss’ fifth novel, is a nostalgic reflection on what could have been. As our Author of the Day, Reiss tells us more about this book and what it took to write it.
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