Friday, January 11, 2008

08.02 Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson

Dorsai! (1960) by Gordon R. Dickson
Pbk, Tor, 280p.

Also published under the title The Genetic General, Dorsai! retains a fairly prominent place in the canon of early sf. The novel, along with Heinlein's Starship Troopers, is one of the most influential of in the sub-genre of military science fiction.

The story follows the exploits of a man named Donal Graeme from the planet Dorsai. Men from this planet are natural warriors. The way society is set up in this novel is that groups within the 16 terraformed worlds have different specializations. People are contracted out to other planets, governments, leaders, etc for the purpose of fulfilling any lack of skill that their society has.

That structure doesn't become entirely obvious until later in the book however. The majority of the novel concerns Donal's early training and meteoric rise to becoming the best military commander EVER. Through a number of episodic chapters we see that he has near mystically intuitive sense of how to battle plan and manipulate those around him in order to allow huge jumps in rank and prestige. Ultimately, this gives him the power to radically restructure all societies.

I think that if I am going to explore some of the early canon of American sf I am going to run in to many of the shortcomings that were apparent in this novel. Namely, fairly wooden dialogue and a streak of misogyny. In Dorsi!, there are some cool ideas and the book planted the seeds of some great future sf.

1 comment:

Olman Feelyus said...

Yes, I think I know what you mean about how this book has some really cool ideas, but the delivery seems kind of wooden. There is a lot of exposition. I think it's part of a long series that people really love.