Henry Kuttner

Clash by Night

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This remarkably inventive novella, published originally in the February 1943 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, sculpts a complicated feudal society based on decadence and warfare, a tragic warrior hero and a brilliantly imagined Venus within its compass of 25,000 words. Clash By Night foreshadows the full-length novel, Fury, which appeared in Astounding three years later. The novella is centered on Brian Scott, a so-called "Free Companion" who is a warrior for one of the competing undersea civilizations of Venus. The novel portrays what Scott intends to be his last mercenary battle. A decadent humanity lives on Venus under the planet's seas. They are the descendants of survivors exiled from Earth after the destructive atomic wars. Life for most of these inhabitants of the Keeps is pleasant though corrupt and is so detailed by Kuttner with great precision and force through the eyes of Scott, whose mercenary services as a warrior are available to the highest bidder. These wars among the undersea Keeps give point to what would otherwise be an aimless, luxurious existence in these shells under the fierce Venusian seas. As Brian Scott, in the employ of the besieged Montana Keep, makes alliances with other mercenaries of the Doones to fight a war for property, he comes to a truer understanding of the nature of his life and of his fate.
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81 printed pages

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