Monday, April 27, 2015

Planet Run by Keith Laumer

 I have been reading Keith Laumer for just about as long as I can remember reading science fiction. This book has always been one of my favorites, so when I was packing up boxes of books to send to my library-owning partner, Larry, I held it back to savor one more time.

The setting: The planet Corazon, discovered decades ago, has been under quarantine until the present day, when the Planetary Survey has released it for a "Run". Every hornswoggling, backstabbing, swashbuckling son-of-a-gun in the Galaxy will be there to try to claim the best land for himself, or for the interests which he represents. Captain Henry, formerly of the Survey, was along on the voyage which discovered Corazon. He is now retired, living a life of ease on Aldorado, enjoying watching his great-granddaughter, Dulcie, grow into a young woman. It has long been rumored that he found a treasure trove of precious jewels on Corazon, bolstered by the fact that he occasionally sells a perfect specimen to finance his quiet life, and Dulcie has been seen wearing a necklace of precious stones on special occasions, not the sort of thing a retired spaceman could afford on his own.

Senator Bartholomew of Aldorado thinks he has the means to blackmail the captain into undertaking one last planet run, with the fact that Henry returned to the planet several times, illegally, the last time returning just barely too late to save his wife from a terminal illness the treatment for which the gemstones in his possession could have paid. But Henry turns the tables and puts his own twist on their agreement. Bartholomew's nephew, Larry, who has a bright future in Aldoradan politics, is a bit of a fop, but Dulcie is quite taken with him. Captain Henry decides he's either going to make a man out of the boy, or break him in the process, and tells Bartholomew that he'll undertake the run, if Larry goes along with him to help, and if the proceeds are split between Larry and Dulcie 50/50.

So Henry and Larry go off on one of the greatest adventures of all time, rootin' tootin' and shootin' their way through the claim-jumpin' lily-livered villains and varlets. It has a great surprise ending, too.

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