Jason dinAlit, an inhabitant of the planet Porgostrosaand, is a fast talking, conniving, tough as nails, gun toting gambler whose ethics wax and wane with each planet he travels to. He also has amazing psionic abilities which means he is gifted with a variety of psychic abilities including telekinesis, telepathy, pyrokinesis and a host of other interesting capabilities. He is not above using these to tip the odds in his favor while gambling. A chance meeting with Kerk Pyrrus who is the Ambassador of planet Pyrrus ends up with dinAlit traveling back with the Ambassador to Pyrrus.
Here he discovers to his shock that everything on Pyrrus is predatory. Large creatures attack small ones, while smaller ones are armed with deadly neurotoxins. The plants are all carnivorous, while life evolves at lightning speed on the planet. In the course of his explorations of this terrible planet, dinAlit meets a strange race of humans called “grubbers” who live on the fringes of the city. The rest of the book follows dinAlit's exploits.
The Deathworld series by Harry Harrison began with his first published novel Deathworld in 1960. Two more books were followed by a short story, entitled The Mothballed Planet and feature the hero, Jason dinAlit. All the books deal with Jason's encounters with hostile civilizations on other planets. Harrison also wrote the Stainless Steel Rat series, another popular set of books that deal with a comic character called Slippery Slim or the Stainless Steel Rat. His books are known for their nonstop action, larger than life heroes and strange and weird sci-fi descriptions.
Harrison was a gifted artist and began his career as an illustrator with EC Comics and their series Weird Fantasy and Weird Science. He had a brief career as a ghostwriter in which he authored several books, most notable being one of the popular The Saint series featuring Leslie Charteris' famous hero. Later he wrote for several syndicated comics and finally struck out on his own with his debut short story, Rock River which was published in 1951.
In the fifties and sixties, he remained firmly entrenched as the writer of the Flash Gordon comic strip. His novel Make Room, Make Room, which was remade as the Hollywood film Soylent Green showed his concern for the environment. He was also a great antiwar thinker.
As an intergalactic space adventure, Deathworld is indeed a superb read, with many of the features coming eerily true in today's world.