Review: Police Your Planet

Police Your Planet
Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Police Your Planet takes you through the newly outcast life of Bruce Gordon who has been exiled to Mars, like may others from Earth, in a manner similar to the founding of Australia with prisoners and undesirables. He is sent as punishment for revealing wrong secrets (I think?) and blackmailed with the threat of worst conditions on Mercury if he doesn’t help Security (interplanetary equivalent of the U.N.) by spying for them… although he isn’t really told ‘how’ to do that. He is left to his own devices and slowly and painfully tries to find a way to buy a ticket back home to Earth. He is wholly unsuccessful as his personal honesty/fairness trait keeps him from doing the things it truly takes to succeed in Mars corrupt society.

So the story wasn’t horrible, and I did kind of like the book, but for every Pro there was a corresponding Con to go with it.

The action was there, but it was hard for me to relate to because it was harsh physical action. Most of the time the things that were happening involved someone getting the crap beat out of them. That turned me off.

The pacing was good, but the story moved from one steady crappy situation to another. I know upping the ante for the protagonist is supposed to happen, but this one cranks it to ludicrous level.

The background/world/environment was very vivid, but it was so seedy in nature that it depressed me. The whole story revolved around a grinding, inescapable, systemically criminalized society. The only people who ever got ahead were the criminals. The ‘honest’ people were the prey and virtual slaves. The criminals used each level of the crime riddled world to try to gain an upper hand, but usually only ended up feeding upward to the next highest level until it basically ended up in the mayor’s pocket. Marsport is a really run down Banana Republic-esque capital city crossed with a mob-ridden New York. The cops are the official racketeers who do protect and serve… but at exorbitant cost. Any criminal they stop, they usually pick clean, beat down, and move on. It’s quite a miserable place.

One political thing I took away was that the author apparently had a very bad opinion of nationalism, which is why his ‘good guys’, Security, were the U.N. This was written in 1956, so the Cold War was going on, and I guess the whole clash between superpowers was bugging him. It all seems nonsensical today based on how history has unfolded, but I guess it made sense then.

The typical failure of 50’s era male-female relationships to translate to current (2016) norms was almost laughable in this one. The ‘I tried to kill you three times, and now I’m in love with you’ plus ‘everyone on the planet is a criminal, but God forbid we should sleep in the same bed together’ made the whole ‘romance’ portion just too absurd for it to have the intended effect on me as a reader. I’m sure it was fine for it’s time, but it totally fails to work now.

All that criticism might make you wonder why I even get up to 3 stars. I’m not sure either, but it was better than just ‘ok’. I guess I was waiting on the resolution of all the issues, and that’s what kept me reading… to see how bad it would get before it got fixed. It does get fixed, but because of the relationship fail I mentioned above, the ending was only mediocre. So, if you have spare time and you want a Goodfellas on Mars story, go ahead and read it, but definitely keep in mind the culture shift in the last 60 years really dates this one. I give it 3 stars and call it an Interesting Read.

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