by Gordon Dickson
Stereotypical science fiction from the 1950s should have wooden dialogue, manly male characters, and attractive, difficult female characters with unconvincing personalities. Although Dorsai! is good in other ways, it unfortunately lives up to this stereotype. It consists of a series of episodes in the mercenary Donal Graeme's swift ascent to power and responsibility. The setting for the story is a universe where humanity lives on a handful of planets, each of which specializes in a certain set of skills. The necessity of the free trade of talented humans between worlds provides the economic and social background for the book.
Dorsai! is an early example of military science fiction; some other good books in this category include Starship Troopers, Dune, The Forever War, and Ender's Game. Dorsai! and Dune share a number of common elements including an alienated genetic superman. However, the end of Dorsai! reminded me more of The Demolished Man -- both books degenerate into mumbo jumbo based on a literal interpretation of the collective unconscious. Ugh. This is a fun book, but well past its prime.
copyright © 2001 John Regehr