Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Suns of Scorpio by Alan Burt Akers

'Helpless as the phantom forces of the Savanti and the Star Lords clash, Dray Prescot is swept once more from Earth to fulfil another gruesome task beneath the twin suns of Kregan.

Will he be sent to Zair, where the red-sun deity reigns or to Grodno, land of the green-sun god where the evil overlords of Magdag rule a nation of slaves?

As Prescot waits in limbo for the outcome of the battle, his one hope is that the task will take him nearer to his Princess, the lovely Delia, from whom the Star Lords snatched him so long ago...' From the back cover

1973. 192 pages 40p UK cover price

The second book of the 'Dray Prescot Series' (there are thirty-seven in all!), Suns of Scorpio is a quick and bloody affair with tons of swordplay, seafaring, and a few naked ladies thrown in for good measure. Cinemax should option this book series for an ongoing late night affair. Suns of Scorpio is well written, but heavily referential to its predecessor Transit to Scorpio, so a bit of editing or maybe even a glossary would help to make it more cohesive. All in all, though, I enjoyed this bad boy.

Protagonist Dray Prescot is your prototypical pulp sci-fi hero—whisked away from Earth by the capricious 'Star Lords' to the world of Kregan (Two suns! Beast people!) and given no direction, Dray quickly finds himself enslaved by the Magdag, an evil northern island empire that worships the green sun of Grondo. The Magdag are endlessly building shrines to their brutal deity, which is where our main man finds himself at work. Eventually, Dray's mercurial temperament finds him at odds with some fristles (half cat people) who ambush him and leave him for dead where the slave galleys are kept. Mistaken for a Galley slave, Dray is press ganged onto the crew of the 'Grace of Grondo' and nearly worked to death. He creates a bond with his fellow oar mates, and they watch out for each other, as many around them are worked or beaten to death on the Galley. One of Dray's oar mates is flogged to death right next to him, which enrages our hero to the point where he frees himself and begins killing crew of the galley. Just as things seem to be taking a turn for the worse, a ship from Sanurkazz, bitter enemies of Magdag, overtakes the vessel and joins the fight—eventually freeing the slaves and enslaving the captives. Dray joins the Sanurkazz Navy, and even begins worshipping their benevolent god Zair (of the red sun) while amassing power and fortune. Oh yeah, he also bangs his buddy Zorg's hot widow.

So, this is the basic formula for this book—Dray is captured, faces insurmountable odds, chops off a bunch of limbs, is rescued by the enemies of his enemies, then flourishes in their culture for a time. Mr. Prescot also has sex with, or at least has the opportunity to have sex with, whatever beautiful royal women happen to be around. This all sounds very shallow and ridiculous, but the pacing of Suns of Scorpio has a very serial feel, which lends itself well to an action sci-fi novel.

My main gripe is that Akers basically assumes that you have read the previous entry in the series, which I haven’t. Character names from the previously novel are dropped piecemeal with almost no explanation or relevance throughout the book. Hell, we don’t find out until three quarters into this novel that in Transit to Scorpio Dray had bathed in a sacred pool, rendering him immortal.

But, these are small gripes for a fun novel that, less than two hundred pages, is full of gore and boobs.

Lots of boobs.

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