BOOK REVIEW: Fury, by Henry Kuttner

Publisher: Gollancz

Series: Standalone

Genre: Dystopian SF

Pages: 212

Publication Date: 10/01/2019 (originally 1950)

Verdict: 4/5

Earth is gone, and the remnants of the human race have retreated to Venus.

Confined to domed cities beneath the Venusian oceans and ruled over by genetically enhanced Immortals, humanity is trapped in a state of decline. Stagnation.

Sam Reed was born an Immortal, though he doesn’t know it. But when he finds out the truth, he decides to walk a dark path of vengeance against his misbegotten family. The choices he make will determine the fate not only of the Immortals, but of humanity itself . . .

Fury is the first in a new series of Golden Age Masterworks, with almost a dozen set for release in the first half of 2019. If Fury is anything to go by, we’re all in for a treat.

First I’d like to make a small disclaimer: The science in this book is wrong. Like, really wrong. But it’s almost seventy years’ old, so what can you expect? This is an unavoidable problem with reading the classics, so t has no bearing on my enjoyment of what is, frankly, a stunning book. But it’s something to bear in mind when people walk around Venus without protection.

From the opening act – the mutilation of  a newborn child – Fury is an unrelentingly brutal book. To live under the rule of the Immortals is to live without hope, unless you can get your hands on Dream-Dust that is. Even when things get better for Sam in the third act, everyone around him suffers for his benefit. Here is a man willing to sacrifice hundreds of lives it will get him what he wants.

Hardly a relatable protagonist, Sam is nevertheless a captivating character. From downtrodden scam artist to nascent despot, there is no point where you don’t want to know what happens to him next. His underdog spirit gives way to a lust for power, but he always stays just the right side of the line between anti-hero and villain.

Like so many books from the period, Fury is a short read, but crams plenty of worldbuilding and story into its meagre page count. There are mysteries, certainly. The exact fate of the earth is not explicit, though strongly hinted to have died in an atomic haze. But everything you need to know to understand Sam Reed and his plans is right there. Waiting to be read.

It may have aged, but Fury has done so like cheese. or a fine wine. You could do a lot worse than setting aside a day to read it.

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