Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

DEATHWORMS OF KRATOS by Richard Avery (Edmund Cooper)

Richard Avery Expendables #1

When I was much younger, I picked up the four books in Richard Avery’s Expendables series (which he glommed onto before Sylvester Stallone and his crew of action heroes nabbed lately). Mostly I was drawn to them by the SF covers, the action, and the women (on some of the covers).

As a young reader, I wasn’t entirely blown away by the writing style. It was, and remains, very workmanlike. The story and characters get the job done just fine, but the possibilities presented in the books were what really caught me up in them.

Basically Commander James Conrad and his team are planet-busters. They get shipped to planets to scout out resources, potential predators, and other pros and cons of establishing settlements and colonies for an Earth that is bursting at the seams with rampant population. Population problems are more of an issue now than they were back in the 1970s when the books first came out, but even back then everyone could see the writing on the wall.

The first book in the series is slow out of the gate. I remember that being a problem when I initially read it all those years ago, and why I didn’t pick up that second book (even used at the five and dime!) for weeks. But my mind kept wondering what world James Conrad and his people would get sent to next, and what challenges they would find awaiting them.

So I read through all four books and wished there were more. There weren’t. I still have the copies packed away—somewhere in the labyrinth of boxes of books I have—but I’m really glad they ended up getting reprinted as ebooks.

I read through the first one in a single sitting because I was caught between the story and remembering what I was like when I first read the book, which is always a delight for a dedicated, longtime reader. Books become touchstones.

I’m not sure why this series made that cut. I think it had to do with the original art and the whole idea of getting shipped out to hostile planets and having to survive. That’s what’s bringing me back to the series again, but it will probably be a while before I read the next one. Just like last time.

4 Responses to “DEATHWORMS OF KRATOS by Richard Avery (Edmund Cooper)”

  1. I have these but haven’t read them. I didn’t know that “Avery” was Edmund Cooper.

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