Book Cover
Title Pandora's Legions
Series ---
Author Christopher Anvil
Cover Art Patrick Turner
Publisher Baen Books - 2002
First Printing 1956 - 1969
Category Science Fiction
Warnings None

Main Characters

Klide Horsip, Brak Mofflis, Towers

Main Elements Aliens

The mighty centran Empire had been conquering star systems for centuries -- and then they took on Earth. And in spite of their more advanced weapons, the Centrans weren't sure just who had conquered who.

This book actually brings together several stories and novellas written by Christopher Anvil, and can be downloaded as an eBook for free from the Baen Free Library. It merges:

  • "Pandora's Planet" (1956)
  • "Pandora's Envoy" (1961)
  • "The Toughest Opponent" (1962)
  • "Trap" (1969)
  • "Sweet Reason" (1966)
  • "Able Hunter" (1972)
  • "Pandora's Unlocked Box" (1972)
  • "Contagious Earthitis" (1972)
  • "Pandora's Galaxy" (1972)

So this was the kind of book I never would have bought, but seeing as it was free it wouldn't hurt to give it a try. So it starts off interesting enough, Horsip is a Planetary Integrator and the Central Empire has just conquered another planet. Well, sort of. As you read, you realize that the planet is surprisingly Earth-like in their technologies and techniques, and are considered near-hairless and tailess. Yes, this is the conquest of Earth from the POV of an alient species. Definitely a unique start, normally we're the center of everything so I kind of enjoyed the fact that humans are actually just on the side. It was quite humourous to see Horsip's views of our species, as he tried to figure out how to deal with us, we are an incredibly annoying and persistent race I must admit. Especially when he discovers we are smarter and more technologically advanced than the Centrans are...except we focused all our advancements in armaments to kill each other, instead of investing in space travel. From this point onwards, chaos in the Empire ensues. The Centrans have opened what ammounts to an interstellar Pandora's Box.

Now the first part was pretty decent, kind of reminded me of Douglas' Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy in it's sartirical and cynical view of the human race, pointing out all the ridiculous things we take for granted. But as as the book continued, it lost that edge for me, to the point where it not only wasn't funny anymore, it was downright boring and pointless. Maybe it would have worked as a series of short stories in SF publications, as they originally were, but put together, it really didn't keep one's interest. About the only thing that kept me going in the middle was trying to figure out how Towers, a human working with the Centrans to deal with difficult conquests, was going to solve the problem of the teleporting species they encountered. But even that seemed to be really drawn out.

Now I've seen rave reviews as well as many like mine. Perhaps if you grew up on SF magazines like Analog this would be familiar, nostalgic territory, but it just didn't work for me. Basically a great idea that failed to carry through.

But hey, it was free! And if you can track down Pandora's Planet, which is just the first part of the story, might be worth a read.

Posted: February 2013


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