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O Pioneer!
Frederik Pohl
Tor Books, 254 pages

O Pioneer!
Frederik Pohl
Frederik Pohl was born in 1919 in New York City. His first novel was The Space Merchants (with C.M. Kornbluth) serialized in Galaxy magazine (1952) and his first solo novel was Drunkard's Walk, a Galaxy serial in 1960. He has won Hugo Awards as an editor (1966, 1967 and 1968), as a short story writer for "The Meeting" (with C.M. Kornbluth) in 1973 and in 1986 for "Fermi and Frost", and as a novelist for Gateway in 1978. He won Nebula Awards for Man Plus in 1976 and Gateway in 1977. As well, he has served as President of SFWA during 1974-76 and World SF for 1980-82.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Siege of Eternity
Gateway (Frederik Pohl's) - Game Download
Man Plus Review
Notes on Frederik Pohl

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Stephen M. Davis

O Pioneer! is very solid entertainment, but don't look for the author to break any new ground here. The protagonist, Evesham Giyt, is a white-collar criminal who leaves Earth to help colonize the planet of Tupelo -- an extraterrestrial melting pot where a half-dozen or so intergalactic civilizations live together, and where weapons are outlawed.

Evesham comes to Tupelo with his wife, Rina, a former prostitute, and he quickly finds himself in the midst of strange goings-on orchestrated by Hoak Hagbarth, a character who may be a government spook, or may just be creepy and scheming by nature.

The book is entertaining, and breezy enough to be read in a couple of sittings. The dialogue is generally quite good, and the universal translator has a wonderful habit of making all alien speech come out worded like the dialogue in a bad Kung Fu movie. In what ranks as the funniest scene in the book, Mrs. Brownbenttalon, who looks like a large, furry aardvark, is hosting one of her daughter's first nuptials. Evesham and his wife have been invited and grow uncomfortable as the new couple head off to complete the more physical side of their relationship. Neither of the humans have any idea what to expect at a Centaurian party:

Mrs. Brownbenttalon turned to Giyt, cackling. "I know what you think," she said. "You think she going do it right in front of us, correct? But no, not at all, young couple don't need bunch people hanging around staring at them when they do all-important first fuck. Take mind off serious business they busy at, you see? But we naturally got cameras in private doing-it room, keep record in family database so children can someday see actual impregnation which produced selves. You Earth humans do similar ritual, wedding album thing, right? So everybody come along, we observe performing on the TV!"
My only real problem with the book is that Mr. Pohl can't quite decide what he wants to do with Rina, Evesham's wife. Evesham tends to treat her too delicately, and once she becomes pregnant, Evesham is rather sickly-sweet in his response. Her character is far too robust for the treatment, and in fact, she is the catalyst to the conclusion at book's end.

I recommend O Pioneer! as a good read, but not as a must purchase.

Copyright © 1998 by Stephen M. Davis

Steve is faculty member in the English department at Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, S.C. He holds a master's in English Literature from Clemson University. He was voted by his high school class as Most Likely to Become a Young Curmudgeon.

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