The Centauri Device

M. John Harrison
The Centauri Device Cover

The Centauri Device


Picking up M. John Harrison's 1974 Science Fiction novel The Centauri Device, I was pretty excited, as the book was only 185 pages long and seemed to have an interesting premise. It follows a space-trucker who is being drafted by various sides of a massive war to help them control an ultimate weapon, only he has absolutely no interest in them. Think of it like Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), but without Luke and with Han Solo as the main character – not the Han who decides to pitch in at the end (sorry for the mild 37-year-old spoiler), but the Han from the beginning, who could care less about anything other than staying ahead of his debts and finding work.

The novel followed themes I would read again in Transmetropolitan, a world where everything seems messed up beyond all recognition (and yes I know there is a useful acronym for this but both my Mother and my teen daughter read my blog, so deal with it).

Of the various factions attempting to get the help of the main character, two come from armies which are nothing like their contemporary counterparts, and the world is such a bizarre collection of sensory overload that it was often easy to get confused as to what was going on.

Like Alfred Bester's The Stars, My Destination, the book plays with a lot of standard SF story points, but unlike that book, I think only those really interested in reading the more arcane works of classic SF would find it a worthwhile read.