Recently I am running into some really interesting classic science fiction novels. One example is this one by the elusive Charles Carr, author of only two books, of whom there is really little information, so much that some people think his name is a pseudonym. Unfortunately I have not got to read the previous “Colonists of Space”, of which “Salamander War” is the sequel, but this did not affect the enjoyment of this novel at all, thanks to the brief introduction at the beginning of the edition I read.
The story is about two groups of survivors of the human race living on the planet Bel, in the zone wrapped in a perpetual twilight. The first comes from the star ship called Colonist, whose journey is narrated in the previous novel, the second is a group of Swiss, arrived on the planet beforehand and that have developed a very rigid model of society.
If you ignore some '“fantasy” aspects as the fact that the characters never sleep and age more quickly or about the feasibility of producing oxygen on a large scale to make the air breathable, the novel itself is well thought out. The story, which is shown from the point of view of the young Taylor, who is part of the Colonist group, tells about the battle between humans and an alien species, living in the part of the planet perpetually radiated by the sun, the Salamanders. On one hand it describes the vicissitudes related to the defence of the human colony and the attempt to combat and defeat the aliens, on the other one you see the confrontation between two opposite-minded societies, which succeed to reach an agreement before a common enemy. There is even a little romance.
In its simplicity, the one can you expect from a science fiction novel from 1955, “Salamander War” is a truly enjoyable and exciting book. The language is certainly a bit dated, but it does not sound obsolete, indeed, seems almost a style choice instead of an effect of the passing of time. There are very fascinating narrative glimpses.
But what is more surprising is the originality of the plot, which remains so after almost sixty years, as well as its development, which has nothing to envy to many contemporary novels.
The only thing that betrays its age is the measured way in which some controversial aspects are treated, making it a reading also suitable for a very young audience. Similarly I would recommend it to a reader unaccustomed to the genre, but who wanted to begin to discover it.
In short, it is really a good book.
Salamander War on Amazon.com.