Review of THE LAST DAYS OF KRYPTON by Kevin J. Anderson (see his MySpace page)
Harper, August 2008
After a terrible war fueled by alien weapons, the planet Krypton adopted a strict policy of separation, and developed a consensus-style government whose primary criteria was to ensure that destructive technology was never again unleashed. The ban on technology was a source of frustration for scientist and inventor Jor-El, and a source of power for Dru-Zod--the commissioner charged with determining whether new technology could safely be introduced.
Unfortunately, Krypton is beset with a number of destructive forces. Overhead, Krypton's star is in its final stage, a red giant. Deep inside the planet, destructive pressure has built up, and threatens to errupt with destructive consequences. Mysterious comets loom overhead, threatening to smash Krypton's surface, and aliens have finally rediscovered Krypton. For now, they're simply promising protection of Krypton rejoins the stars--but their power makes them dangerous.
While Jar-El is falling in love with the beautiful Lara, the capital city of Krypton is 'collected,' creating a power vacuum that Zod intends to fill. Zod does his best to pre-empt Jor-El, but he grows increasingly insane with his desire for power. Still, he does get things done--and with all of the destructive forces bearing down on Krypton, isn't it better to do something than to do nothing and simply wait for destruction?
Author Kevin J. Anderson (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Anderson) creates an interesting view of the world from which Superman was launched. The central character in this story, Zod, is complex and sometimes sympathetic. While his motivations are selfish and his power-obsession odious, he still manages to get things done--including giving Jor-El the authority to tap the pressure building up in the center of the planet, temporarily saving it. Sadly, from a story perspective, Anderson doesn't quite set Zod up as the flawed and tragic figure he could be. Instead, we get a fairly bland romance between Lara and Jar-El.
The story of Krypton has been told many times and Anderson had a huge number of factoids he needed to work into his story (how did the planet implode, how did Jor-El end up with a workable space ship, where did the shrunken city come from, etc.). The result may please fans of the Superman series but, as a novel, the story didn't deliver as much as I'd hoped. THE LAST DAYS OF KRYPTON isn't bad, but it's not especially memorable, either.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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