A World Called Solitude by Stephen Goldin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book sounded pretty good at first and read pretty well at first, but then it simply just degenerated into smut, so I gave up in disgust midway through and didn’t finish it.
Birk Aaland is a world class scientist who invents an awesome new space ship engine that revolutionizes space travel and he becomes wealthy and famous. Then, a military dictator takes over and starts purging Earth of undesirables. He imprisons, tortures, and murders millions. Birk is stupid enough to speak out, thinking that his fame will protect him, and he soon joins the other political prisoners. His beautiful wife divorces him, his colleagues lie about him, he is sentenced and tortured and doesn’t know when he’s going to be executed. However, this dictator has filled up so many Earth prisons, that he has to start shipping prisoners off planet to colony worlds, so Birk is loaded on a ship with other prisoners and they take off. And they mutiny and take over the ship, but take some damage. Birk is the only one who knows how to fly, so they fly seeking a suitable planet to land on and finally he flies into a huge gas cloud in desperation and spots an unmapped, perfect planet. However, he doesn’t know how to land and crashes the ship. He’s the only survivor. He wakes to find he was saved by robots and the world is fully developed and full of functioning robots, but empty of its previous civilization, whom he begins to refer to as the Makers, a warlike alien race, long gone. And so he spends 11 years there, exploring and basically enjoying his solitude.
However, we learn early on he’s horny as hell and masturbates frequently. Even the robots joke with him about it. He wants a woman, preferably one who looks like and reminds him of his ex-wife. So, his life is uprooted one day when a new space ship crash lands on the planet. The robots rush to the crash site, while he has ambivalent feelings. What if they’re looking for him? What if they’re after him? He goes to the site and discovers that, sure enough, it’s a military ship. There are six critically wounded survivors, two of whom are women. And so it begins.
One, a tall blonde, reminds him of his ex in his fantasies, so he begins masturbating while fantasizing about her. Three of the men die and then this woman dies. He’s distraught because the remaining woman is Japanese and apparently Asians aren’t nearly as attractive in his book. The robots come to him with a dilemma. Both of the remaining survivors are doing badly, but it’s possible one could survive — with organ transplants from the other. So he has to play God and decide who lives and who dies. And while he makes a big show about trying hard to decide, naturally he chooses the woman, because above all else, he wants to get laid and he’s already begun fantasizing about having her as his sex slave, er mate, and is masturbating frantically to the fantasy.
Michi Nakamura survives. She awakes in a hospital surrounded by robots, confused, and wondering where the people are. Arthur, the robot boss, comes to talk to her and tells her there are people in charge and she’ll see someone soon. But that’s not good enough for her, so she escapes from her room and flees through the building, eventually locating Birk, where she tells him her colony world was invaded and it’s imperative she reach Earth to warn them. He tells her she can’t, she’s stuck there and she pretty much loses it. And he loses it back. And then the book is full of them fighting and his continued stupid fantasies about her. When he sees her or even thinks about her, no matter how much he despises her, he gets an erection and wants to bone her. Honestly, I know many sci fi writers are perverts, but the only writer I’ve seen that’s more sex obsessed than this one is Heinlein and he’s a pervert of the first degree, beaten only by de Sade. I don’t know whether Goldin himself is a sex starved maniac or just likes to create characters who are and I can buy someone who hasn’t had sex with a woman in over a decade being horny, but every single thought and action surrounding this single woman has to involve sex? It’s ridiculous! And Birk also acts like a spoiled brat, like a small child. He’s got the emotional breakdown of a four year old. At first I kind of liked him and his explorations and interactions with the robots, but when he went to a dark city to have sex with a robot who, through somehow magically reading his thoughts and memories, could look and act like his ex-wife, I was just kind of repelled. And it just got worse. I don’t know how this book ends. I suspect that they wind up fucking each other’s brains out and loving it and they both escape this planet and make it back to Earth where she warns the government and he is granted a reprieve. But who knows? I do know that I don’t want to continue reading this one track smut to find out. I’m no prude — I’ve read de Sade — but I don’t like gratuitous sex just for the sake of turning horny teenage readers on. It’s really quite stupid. This could have been a good book. Instead, I can’t recommend it at all.