The Decent Dickson

I made an important announcement on Twitter the other day:


I don’t have much time these days, but I did trade a few hours of sleep recently to read this bad boy. The last time I read any SFF was several months ago, when I unceremoniously blitzed through the last two of Jack Vance’s Demon Prince books. They were good, but didn’t impress me enough to force me out of blog hibernation.

At this point, though…it’s just been a while and I miss writing. I…I miss you guys. And also I’ve been at my new job long enough that I feel a little more comfortable banging out a stealthy blog post now and then at work.

Anyway, so – Gordon R. Dickson. I’ve read a few of his stories now, and I have to say I’m kind of puzzled that he is mostly remembered for his contributions to SF/Military SF.

I really liked The Dragon and the George a lot, and at this point I feel pretty comfortable saying it was probably his best work (or at least my favorite of his work). It’s got that scifi-fantasy mishmash that I so relish. It’s got interesting characters and creatures, a little bit of explicit religion, a proto-D&D alignment system of sorts. Fun stuff.

But Dickson’s straight scifi just seems kind of flat.

Spacial Delivery tells the story of basically a random guy who is drafted from his space-flight to do a special job on this planet of bear-men, where humanity has installed an ambassador to court the good will and cooperation of these primitive yet intelligent ursines.

What’s the special job? Well, one of the locals, feeling his honor sleighted by some transgression, has kidnapped a human woman as a challenge to the local diplomat. Our hero has been recruited to bring her back. Oh yeah, but in order to catch up with the perpetrator, he’s to be conveyed my a bear mailman as a parcel of sorts.

Spacial Delivery wasn’t bad. It was short and quick, which I’ve come to like in my SFF novels. There were some halfway interesting aliens (though the main race of bear-men were kind of plain and two-dimensional). The story was suspenseful enough to pull me along, and we had an acceptable if not horribly clever twist ending.

So it was satisfactory.

I’ll probably read more of Dickson’s stuff, but my impression of him is really starting to cement. The guy wrote decent SFF stories – usually not worth writing home about, but diverting and entertaining enough that you could do worse. I’ll say this – I’d much rather dig into a random Dickson novel than a Heinlein.


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