The Planet Killers by Robert Silverberg (1959)

His Mission - To Blow Up A world!

In sixty-seven years, the humanoids who live on Lurion, the fourth planet in the Betelgeuse system, will launch an all out war against our solar system. So sayeth the computer, which has done all the necessary calculations, factoring in every single variable, to learn this indellible truth. We trust the computer, so if it says Earth will be completely destroyed when the Lurions attack, we have no choice other than to pre-emptively blow up their planet.

The computer has chosen Roy Gardner to lead the covert mission to destroy Lurion. If the computer says so, he absolutely must be the right guy for the job. That is, unless the computer turns out to be wrong about who to send to do the job. Again. That's not important, though, what's important is that Lurion must be destroyed before they destroy us.

Lurion is a brutal place. The people are savage. People are stabbed in the street and left for dogs to eat. A popular form of entertainment is a performance in which Lurioni dance around the room while slicing each other with knives, perhaps culminating in the thrilling spectacle of death if the management can afford it.

Roy has his doubts about the mission, but Lurion is a brutal place, damnit, and should be destroyed even if it isn't going to attack Earth in 67 years. That's what he tells himself, but not even the intoxicating effects of khall can make him stop wondering if he's really doing the right thing.

Published in 1959, this book is surprisingly very relevent to contemporary politics, which I'd argue is the mark of some damn fine sci-fi. Politics aside, it's also got a bunch of that fun stuff: action, adventure, espionage, murder, drinking, aliens, technology, and the always popular stupid, lumbering behemoth of bueaucracy. This book is chock full of win and is one of the best reads I've had in a while.

This book is an Ace Double, so after you finish reading it, you can flip it over and read We Claim These Stars! by Poul Anderson. I've seen this book available online for prices ranging from a few bucks to more than a hundred. I scored mine in a used bookstore for three dollars.

Buy this book.

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