Rating: 1 out of 5.
  • Del Curb, Cosmic Courier (#1)
  • Published by Gollancz
  • First published in 1989
  • Space Opera
  • 220 pages

Del Curb is a courier, running errands for the great and good of the galaxy, and everyone in between. But when he is tasked with delivering a package to Fraxilly, there’s more at stake than just money. This time, the price could be his life . . .

Most of the time, I know where I get a book from. My shelves are full of purchases from Waterstones, Amazon, Games Workshop, independent and second-hand bookshops. Some books I remember the exact town and shop. Then there are books that comes as gifts, about which I am morally obliged to ask questions. They just are. And some books have been around long enough that I don’t know where they came from. The Fraxilly Fracas is one such book, passed into my hands during a recent tidy-up around the house. ‘Here. This looks like your sort of book.’ If I have read it before, it was long enough ago that I have no memories of such a time. More likely, it’s just been in the family library gathering dust. In all honesty, perhaps it should have stayed doing just that.

Though only a little over three decades old, The Fraxilly Fracas feels like something from a much more distant era. It is aggressively pulpy in its sensibilities, with everything happening at a lightning pace, and the surface being the only detail we get. This is a story that zips along taking no prisoners, and taking no pauses for breath either. All of this is fine so far as a fun romp goes (and I love a good romp), but on closer examination, things rapidly begin to fall apart.

Douglas Hill was a children’s author before he wrote this book. Yet while it claims to be a work of adult SF, there’s something decidedly juvenile about it. For a start, absolutely everything is renamed. Robots are Intelloids, for example, and no one has anything so simple as a gun. No, there are all manner of techo gadgets available for our hero, who is of course a charismatic loner in the vein of Han Solo. Very much in the same vein, to the point it borders on a lawsuit. Lack of originality isn’t a deal breaker for me, but filing off the serial numbers and whacking a nonsense name on the thing? That gets tiresome quickly. Almost as tiresome as any time a woman appears on the page. If they’re not being hysterical, they’re being mauled. At one point, the primary love interest is kept in a harem, but finds time to joke that at least her new owner is too elderly to actually have sex with her. Ha ha ha. How comical.

I spend my life – and in particular this blog – trying to look on the bright side of things. But, boy oh boy, does The Fraxilly Fracas make that difficult for me. It is hands down the worst book I have read this year. The sole redeeming feature is that it makes me even more excited to start something new.

If you enjoyed this book and want something better, you might like:
Dark Run, by Mike Brooks
Embers of War, by Gareth L. Powell
The Stars Now Unclaimed, by Drew Williams

One response to “BOOK REVIEW: The Fraxilly Fracas, by Douglas Hill”

  1. Mark Hj Avatar

    Oddly enough we have a copy of this on the shelf, provenance unknown, and I don’t think either of us have read it, so perhaps I shan’t bother.
    We have another Douglas Hill on the shelf, again provenance lost in the mists of house moves, which my partner tried to read it recently hitting DNF at ten pages in.


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