“Red Claw” by Philip Palmer, is something I picked up at a Half Price Books years ago. I was sitting at my desk, wondering what book should I choose for a review, when this fun science fiction book that entertained me for some odd number of weeks all those years ago beckoned to me. “Red Claw” was such an entertaining book to read, and frankly a lot of the criticisms of it were the reasons I loved it so much. Claiming it reads like a video game is an injustice to this book (as well as video games by the way). It’s action, joke, gore, and social commentary packed. If it’s a video game in book form, then it stands with the likes of “Bioshock Infinite” and “The Last of Us”, albeit with a lot more clever and dark humor. Can I be blamed and shamed for laughing out loud when the militant leader of a survivor group pretends to be dead, but the scientist strangling him knows better so he keeps choking him? Or when we are introduced to a character who lives his entire life over in his head, sees the signs that he was destined for greatness, to be a God among men, and save the day, only to be immediately killed when his thought is finished? That is top tier humor, the only kind that can be made for an ultra violent science fiction novel of such proportions.
To sum up a spoiler free piece on what this book is about: Humanity has colonized the stars, and we really aren’t that friendly to other species. We find a planet, study it, put some of the members of that planet in a zoo, and then scorch it clean in order to make it Earth-like. A very unfortunately realistic idea put forth. There’s your team of scientists that are cataloging the various crazy lifeforms on this one particular planet, however something odd happens. All the machinery on the planet seem to stop behaving properly and killing everyone. And strange enough is seems to be done by the ex-colleague, ex-friend, and ex-lover of the head scientist, even though he died quite some time ago. The team of bungling nerds have to venture out into the wilderness of this odd and dangerous planet of simply bizarre plants and animals that put the reader in a state of awe due to the sheer act of imagination of the author. An intelligent species of Griffins that reproduce by eating other species and vomiting them up with their own DNA, thus creating their own kind? What the actual hell was this author smoking? And can I have some?
Overall, Mr. Palmer does a fantastic job creating a incredibly unique and interesting universe within this book. How he does that could only be described as years of talent mixed with some innate curiosity for how nature works, I can come up with no other explanation for how this man created such an interesting and thought provoking world. I cannot recommend this twenty year old book enough.
Thank you for reading my fourth book review, simply writing that was enough to make me happy, filling me with the memories of reading such an entertaining and fun book. Seriously, even though this book is over twenty years old and barely got any publicity, this is one of my favorite books, and sharing my thoughts with you was fun enough, let alone getting into details and putting this on a blog for everyone else to see! I can only hope you go out and buy this books, and I am sure you’ll enjoy reading it as much as the author did writing it. Follow Boxhead Books on Facebook, @boxheadbooks and @tytyscifi on Instagram for all the crazy updates in my life, and of course check out the Boxhead Books store and see what you’d like. As always, remember to #ReadOutsideTheBox