by Henry Kuttner


Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Sam Reed is not a nice man, or so we are told, quite frequently, by Henry Kuttner in his novel Fury. Unfortunately, Kuttner fails to really demonstrate that Reed is the villain he is made out to be. His criminal activities are conducted offstage. His ill treatment of women similarly is not realized in the writing. We only have Kuttner's word that Reed is an S.O.B.

However, Kuttner does make sure to explain Reed's history so we can have some understanding of what makes him the bastard that Kuttner claims he is. Born to the social elite on a domed, Jurassic era Venus, Reed's father disowns his son after Reed's mother died in childbirth. More than that, Reed's father, Blaze Harker, has gone out of his way to mutilate and genetically alter Sam before giving him up for adoption. Reed's heritage as an immortal is hidden from all by this tampering.

For all that Reed is the main character, he comes across neither as particularly likable or dislikable, but neither does anyone else in this book. THe characters are simply cardboard cut-outs acting out the roles Kuttner (and his wife, C.L. Moore) assigned to them to further the plot.

The plot tells of how Reed, an angry young man, leads a revolts against the Venusian ruling classes, not out of any principles, but merely for revenge. Beginning as a small time con-artist, Reed's immortal genes allow him to rise up the social ladder without a struggle, despite no one knowning his parentage. He is a Slannish character, progressing through life as much on his innate, superhuman abilities as he does based on his own initiative. Even against other immortals, Reed had little real difficulty, suffering only minor setbacks against immortals witht he same genetic heritage who were raised with their birthright.

Fury is currently out-of-print, a situation which I can't really say is entirely a bad thing. Kuttner has written several good books and short stories, but Fury is not one of them. There are several other sf novels which would deserve to be brought back into print before Fury.

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