Tag Archives: alan burt akers

Swordships of Scorpio

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Swordships of Scorpio by Alan Burt Akers, book 4 of the Dray Prescot series.

Alan Burt Akers Swordships of Scorpio

This book shows some slight signs of improvement over its predecessors. It is the fourth of the initial cycle of five, in the dozens of Dray Prescott sword-and-planet books. Many otherworldly swashes are buckled in this one, but it seems that towards the end of it the narrative starts to acquire a wry sense of humor, striking off in a direction that just barely reminded me—however faintly—of James Branch Cabell.

Early on, the author provides a stunning discontinuity, where he inserts his protagonist into a desperate cliffhanger of a situation, and then simply jumps forward to a point well after its unexplained resolution, chalking up the lacuna to a gap in the audio tapes which were his supposed source material! This lackadaisical approach to yarn-spinning is why I’m not pursuing these books with much zeal, and I lack confidence that the next book (ending the “Delian Cycle”) will even arrive at a satisfactory climax. [via]

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

The High Couch of Silistra

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews High Couch of Silistra by Janet E Morris, with a mass market paperback cover by Boris Vallejo.

Janet E Morris Boris Vallejo High Couch of Silistra

This sword-and-planet yarn was the author’s first novel, and given that its entire sub-genre tends to fall (at its best) into the “guilty pleasure” category, I think it’s all right. I certainly liked it better than the Dray Prescott book (Warrior of Scorpio) which was my last reading in that field.

The sexual content is more explicit than Burroughs or Akers would deliver, and about comparable with Norman, although without the Gorean sadistic moralizing. In any case, it doesn’t really rise to the level of erotica despite the protagonist’s status as her homeworld’s most celebrated courtesan-madame-sexual athelete.

The metaphysical positioning of the book seems to break with the Burroughs-Norman tradition of fraudulent cults fronting for alien gods. The main plot of Returning Creation—evidently the author’s title, restored in a later edition—is the quest undertaken by a semi-divine woman (the “creation” in question) to find her alien father on his homeworld. Most in her society are skeptical about the “seed-sower” legendary that identifies the god race to which her father seems to belong, but her experiences eventually vindicate the lore, and the story ends inconclusively with her accession to her heritage among her father’s super-powerful people. Seeing that I have the sequels already in my possession, I expect to indulge my curiosity about where the author might take the narrative from that point. [via]

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Warrior of Scorpio

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Warrior of Scorpio, book 3 of the Saga of Prescot of Antares, by Alan Burt Akers, from DAW Books:

Alan Burt Akers' Warrior of Scorpio from DAW Books

 

The third installment of Akers’ long, long Kregen series is absolutely formulaic sword and planet fiction. The book features beast-men, airships, exhaustive detail of exotic military technology, a kidnapped princess, a predatory queen, an arena battle with a monster, and heroic nudity. Protagonist Dray Prescott’s companion-in-arms is Seg Segutorio, a name that recalls the Tars Tarkas of Barsoom, although Seg is more conventionally humanoid than the green Martian. The bird steeds that are called tarns in the Gor books feature here as multiple species, including corth and impiters.

One little innovation: A footnote points out a lack of continuity with the previous volumes, and opines that some of Prescott’s memoir has been lost. It’s a sort of retnoncon! Along with a different allusion to missing tapes in the second book, this may have been the author’s scheme to open up gaps in the narrative that might later be filled with further writings.

Towards the middle of this book I was getting genuinely bored of planet Kregen (pretty unforgivable in a book of this sort!), but the pace picked up toward the end, and I genuinely enjoyed the last two or three chapters. I guess I’ll read some more Dray Prescott, but not very soon. [via]

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

The Suns of Scorpio

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Suns of Scorpio by Alan Burt Akers:

When Bulmer (whose pseudonym Akers was) wrote this second of the Dray Prescott books, he presumably already intended to write at least a few more, if not the dozens that eventually transpired. Evidence for this is in the highly irregular narrative structure of The Suns of Scorpio. It starts out conventionally enough, with hero Prescott’s return by mystical transport to the Antarean planet, and his integration into a society and region of Kregen that he hadn’t encountered before. In the middle, however, a major section of the story is omitted, on the grounds of loss of some of the cassettes from which the story is supposed to have been transcribed. Also, the story ends on the moment before its narrative climax, as Bulmer is evicted from the planet, presumably back to Earth, but without explanation or epilogue. The “missing tapes” section seems as if it may have been a device to avoid writing an erotic passage without impugning the frankness of Prescott as a memoirist. The ending, however, is clearly part of a slow development of evidence regarding the intentions of the still-mysterious Star Lords and the enigmatic Savanti.

The Suns of Scorpio takes place within a polarized backwater civilization on an inland sea, somewhat isolated from the Kregish political powers of Prescott’s prior adventures. The two dominant nations of this part of the planet each worship a different one of the two suns of the Antarean system, and they are locked in a longstanding cool war characterized by sporadic piracy and rapine aimed at client cities. Prescott’s experience with more sophisticated Terrestrial technologies of seafaring and warfaring serves him in good stead in this volume.

Even more than in the first book, Prescott’s narrative voice emphasizes a wiser-but-sadder reflection on his younger adventures. But like Transit to Scorpio, it is a fast read, and it shows ever-so-incremental progress toward a grander structure that will make sense of these episodes in which Prescott serves as a catalyst for political upheaval. As an extra complication, he is inducted into an initiatory society which furnishes him with superior martial disciplines, and claims his allegiance in circumstances that would require his return to the worshippers of the red sun. [via]

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.