Friday, 8 August 2014

The Deathworld Trilogy - Harry Harrison

Title: The Deathworld Trilogy
Author: Harry Harrison
ISBN: 978-1434450357
Pages: 440
Publisher: Wildside Publishing

All forms of literature can hold lessons for the prospective leader; science fiction is no exception. The work 'The Deathworld Trilogy' is a fascinating study of the human condition under a variety of environments with clear applications to what we see in the real world today. Set in a future universe, it tells the story of a renowned gambler whose personality personifies the concept of 'honour amongst thieves', who is approached by a mysterious group soliciting his help in raising funds for them. The story unfolds with them being revealed as a closed society of perfect warriors living in a city state at war with (literally) the planet around them. The main character, known as Jason DinAlt, is inadvertently thrust into a world of perpetual combat fuelled by hatred of both sides for the other. As an outsider, he brings a perspective that flies directly in the face of the deep seated beliefs held by countless generations that have known no life other than the defence of their city through the perfection of their fighting skills. DinAlt is faced with deep seated mistrust and violent resistance when he begins to question some of the tenants that form the foundation of this society.

I would suggest that this story has parallels in some the main conflicts we see in our world today in regions such as Israel and the Gaza Strip as well as Radical Islam and the West. The book is a thoughtful insightful read that has lessons for those willing to appreciate and accept them.

The follow on book relates the impact of societies upon each other as they come in contact with one another. It explores the fact that the human condition is not sedentary and that exposure to alternatives be they language, tradition or geography is going to have an impact upon the outlook and behaviours of those groups meeting. The benefits of expansion and conquest must be balanced against the outcomes that intimate interaction is going to have regardless of whether they are viewed to be positive or negative.

This speaks to the impact of colonialism, immigration and the advent of such things as the internet upon the societies of the world. It is impossible to prevent change and those that attempt to do so run the risk of alienation and schism. Better to recognize that change is going to occur and to understand that it is not all negative. This has applications in many of the environments of the world but, particularly I would suggest, with regards to the impact of Eastern and Western cultures on each other as they inexorably move closer together with increased interaction.

This trilogy is an excellent and enjoyable read in addition to the lessons that it holds for the people of today. I would recommend it for both its entertainment and educational value.

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