Monday, November 23, 2009

Doomsman, by Harlan Ellison

(pb; 1958: novella)

From the back cover:

"The man Eskalyo was a threat to the America State system.

"The youth Montoya was abducted by the Seekers and taken to the School for Assassins. What better person could they find to kill Eskalyo than his own son?

"The man Montoya began to doubt. . . doubt the system. . . doubt the School. . . But he had been trained -- brain-programmed to kill! Could Montoya strike the bloody blow that would kill the father he barely remembered?"


Spare, action-oriented writing, spiced wtih science-fiction neologisms, highlights this exciting work. The scenario is familiar, but Ellison's barebones, earnest take on the "man driven to hunt another man" plot is effective and involving. The ending, while not surprising, is equally sharp and sound.

This is one of Ellison's finer, more direct efforts. The Doomsman doesn't sport some of his wilder visions, but Ellison is not going for spectacle here: he's going for brutal simplicity (which he achieves).

All zing, no filler, this. Check it out.

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