Monday, 3 December 2012
The Super Barbarians, by John Brunner – reviewed by Stephen Theaker
Though The Super Barbarians is far from being one of Brunner’s masterworks, I would have enjoyed it very much had this particular edition not been such a mess. It’s interesting in that it’s a tale of the indomitable human spirit, of aliens who just can’t—at least in the long run—cope with our wiles, determination, hard work and technical know-how; not at all what you would expect from the author of dour, pessimistic novels like Stand on Zanzibar and The Sheep Look Up. One suspects it was written very specifically to appeal to Ace, its original American publisher. There’s no doubt that the storyline panders to our vanity as a species, but it makes for a fun, pleasant and hopeful book.
Unfortunately, this Gollancz/SF Gateway edition of the book was, like the previously reviewed Dumarest 4: Kalin from the same publisher, utterly dreadful, clearly having been scanned in and never checked, with ridiculous mistakes from start to finish. Typical errors included: “On the Vorrish side it was tempered with a land of puzzlement”, “This was another point they bore in mind when dunking of us”, “Where is he JIOW?” and an order “not to supply any more of this poison to my 8011” (meaning son). It’s clear that Gollancz only got all those thousands of books out so quickly by cutting all the corners. And it’s not as if the books are particularly cheap. I won’t buy any more SF Gateway books without checking the Kindle previews; wish I hadn’t pre-ordered so many before they were released.