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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Berserker (Bersker series #1) (audiobook) by Fred Saberhagen

Published in 1983 by Recorded Books
Narrated by Aaron Lustig and Henry Strozier.
Duration: approximately 6.5 hours

I just stumbled upon Berserker, not realizing that there is an entire series of these books. I'm not terribly surprised, the structure of the first book lends itself to sequel after sequel.

The premise of the book is that giant intelligent killing space machines are out to destroy all of the life they discover. Why? We are never told, but we assume that they are by-products of a long-ended war by a long-forgotten people.

Fred Saberhagen (1930-2007)
Photo by Beth Gwinn

This first volume was written in the late 1960s. The only reason I point this out is that I believe that the 1960s was an especially fertile time for science fiction, especially sci-fi that wanted to discuss big issues and themes. For example, TV's "Star Trek" and "Twilight Zone" are often more than a creepy story or a space alien story - they explore deep themes, such as "What is beauty?" and "What does it mean to be human?". Saberhagen openly explores these themes and more.

Saberhagen bounces around from one episode in humankind's struggle against these machines to another, giving the reader (in my case, listener) a bit of the flavor of the struggle as a whole. There are minor battles, major battles, backroom political struggles, stories of prisoners, accidental encounters and attempts to make peace. All stories are told by an alien historian in short story format. Some characters overlap from story to story but many do not.

Abuse of power, treason, forgiveness, revenge and what it means to be human are themes that Saberhagen explores. The quality of the stories vary. The first one is particularly weak in my opinion, so don't let it deter you from continuing on.

The audiobook is well read, with Aaron Lustig and Henry Strozier sharing the work - one acts as the historian narrator that introduces each short story while the other reads the main body of the book.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: Berserker #1 by Fred Saberhagen.

Reviewed on October 26, 2007

I rate this audiobook 4 stars out of 5.

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