Down In The Black Gang Book Review
Tonight, I have just finished reading a book called, Down In The Black Gang written by Philip Jose Farmer. I bought this book at a used book, as this book is out of print. Overall, I would give this book an A-. This book is a slim collection of science fiction short stories dealing with science, religion, philosophy, and sex. Of course, the sex scenes in these shorts are pretty tame by today's standards.
The name of the short stories are: Down In The Black Gang, The Shadow of Space, A Bowl Bigger Than Earth, Riverworld, A Few Miles, Prometheus, The Blasphemers, and How Deep The Groove.
Down in The Black Gang was about an android type creature that got humans to kill each other so the energy could fuel ships. It was a hard story to follow and was the weakest story out of the collection.
The Shadow of Space was about a spaceship named after the Norse god Odin's horse, Sleipnir. The spaceship actually leaves the universe and the story presents a theory of how Odin could have fashioned our universe.
A Bowl Bigger Than Earth was about a man whose soul is placed into a sexless hairless body; on the plus side this body is much stronger than his Earth's body. In this society, there is no individualism, everyone is equal, and there is no sex since no one has any sex organs. Since everyone looks the same and acts the same and can't screw, some find pleasure by hurting each other.
Riverworld is a short story from Mr. Farmer's famous series Riverworld where all of humanity at the end of time is resurrected on a mysterious world with a giant river at the heart of this planet. This story features the cowboy actor Tom Mix and Jesus Christ. The theme is basically that religious fanatics would burn at the stake the founder of their religion.
A Few Miles is about a thief who turns lay monk and has some funny misadventures on his way to the space station. The story ends with the monk being thrown into a cage at the zoo by a punk and a bird woman creature lays an egg on his chest that stays stuck there until it hatchets.
Prometheus is a sequel to the last story, only more serious in tone. The lay monk, John Carmody, goes to another planet to live among the bird people. He gives them their language, teaches them how to make fire, teaches them how to make weapons and tools, and at the end of the story gives them a basic system of religion. This is the most thought provoking and interesting story of the entire collection.
The Blasphemers is about a group of agnostic space explorers who goes to other planets and carves stone statues in the image of their gods as proof of their religious right to conquer a planet. They are bewildered when they land in Egypt and find the statues already there. This one allows the reader to ponder; just what was the culture like that carved the statues in ancient Egypt.
How Deep The Groove is about a scientist who builds a machine to control part of a person's free will. He intended it to make a person an agreeable slave to the state, but ended up proving that human beings’ have no free will and that everything is predestined or predetermined.