Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Darkover Landfall (1972)

Call me slow on the uptake, but I somehow never read any Darkover books in the 1970s or 80's. Darkover Landfall (1972) by Marion Zimmer Bradley introduced me to this world. (My copy came from the used book store. The yellow DAW Books logo has this Egyptian look to it.)

A ship has crashed into a strange world, but the survivors don't yet know that they're stuck. They don't yet know that the world will have an effect on their minds. They don't yet know the hazards that lay before them.

The book opens sharply, with the crew doing what's necessary to protect the living and bury the dead. One important task is figuring out where they are, so the captain sends out an expedition to sight the stars, and while out, the expedition faces their first ghost wind.

About halfway through, the story loses its gusto. Being a prologue to the Darkover series, the book sets up the world, with no real doubt given to the reader.

A few critical characters display "stupid plot syndrome" when these otherwise intelligent people make really stupid decisions even in the face of people fiercely opposing them. In that respect, elements of the plot, as much as there is of it, feel forced.

Ultimately, this is a quick introduction story, but one so thin of plot that it begins gasping 80 pages into the 160 page work. If I was familiar with Darkover, I'm sure that I would have been more entertained by the elements that helped make the world what it was. I would have seen the connection. As a casual observer, these were lost on me.

While the plot had its terminal issues, the narrative usually proved solid.