The Black Sun

Jack Williamson
The Black Sun Cover

The Black Sun


I feel as bifurcated about this novel as the novel itself is bifurcated.

The novel has two distinct parts: the cast of characters and the situation.

The cast is best described as a motley crew left over from a golden age 1950ies era, pre apollo, space saga. I guess that was the intent; to give us this feel of the golden age, making a few concessions to a more modern casting, and letting this mess loose on the ice of the story.

I don't think it worked. This backward looking paradigm just seems so fundamentally weird and unworkable. I guess I am used to the reality and ideals of Apollo crews and even the requirements for the new non-professional crewings to find this crew compliment compelling. With 90% of the cast or their roles on the ship, it just seemed so obvious they had no business being there in the first place. Out of place was an understatement.

And then there was the ice of the planet and the trek to see if anything still lived out there. Most of that was good, up until the very end when the ending seemed rushed and tied up a bit to neatly for my taste. It all work out rather quickly and well. I have nothing against a positive ending but this seemed overdoing it.

What was completely absent was the sense of majesty of scale, of alien horror, of dread, that one finds with Lovecraft's Mountains of Madness. Overcoming that sort of thing for a happy ending would've taken a lot longer and might have been a great read - but that would be a very different novel than the one in front of me.

So, in the end, I'll just say I think this is a lesser work for one of the grandmasters. A twilight waning effort, best forgotten under the ice of a mostly dead world, around a mostly dead star, light years away.