The novel “The Closed Worlds” by Edmond Moore Hamilton was published for the first time in 1968. It’s the second book of the Starwolf trilogy and the sequel to “The Weapon from Beyond“.
Morgan Chane, the Starwolf pursued by his former fellow raiders, chose to keep on working as a mercenary along with commander John Dilullo. On Earth, while he’s waiting for a new job, he decides to make a trip to Wales, his parents’ homeland.
Dilullo receives the task from a billionaire to search for his brother, of which no one has heard after he left for an expedition to the planet Arkuu. Leading a group of mercenaries that includes Morgan Chane, he must face a very hostile environment, not only for the sentient inhabitants but also for the terrible jungle that hides deadly creatures.
“The Closed Worlds” is the second adventure of Morgan Chane, the Starwolf forced to flee from his fellow pirates after killing one of them. In the first novel of the trilogy he met John Dilullo, a mercenary commander who saved him just to to exploit him as a member of his crew.
Morgan Chane grew up on the planet Varna, where gravity is very high so its inhabitants develop physical abilities that far exceed those of the Earthlings and are the fiercest space pirates. As a result, Dilullo thinks that Chane might be a good mercenary but at least initially doesn’t trust him.
Edmond Hamilton wrote space opera of the classical type, very adventurous in which characters were often secondary. However, in “The Closed Worlds” there’s at least some development of the protagonists because Morgan Chane’s experiences changed him and his relationship with John Dilullo has improved over time.
Morgan Chane has always considered himself a Starwolf but is originally from Earth. Because of his particular situation he’s an alien everywhere, also because his identity must remain secret. John Dilullo took a risk in saving him knowing who he was while everyone else would have killed him because the Starwolves are pirates.
In an attempt to find himself again, at the beginning of “The Closed Worlds” Morgan Chane takes advantage of a stop on Erth made by the group of mercenaries commanded by John Dilullo while waiting for a possible new job to make a trip to Wales, his parents’ homeland. Somehow, spending some time together with the Welsh and finding some of his relatives, he manages to feel less alien.
Despite this development, “The Closed Worlds” is basically an adventurous science fiction novel. The mercenaries led by John Dilullo travel to a group of planets whose inhabitants are isolationists and even the Starwolves leave them alone. Their task is to find a billionaire who left on an expedition who has been sending no messages for some time.
“The Closed Worlds” isn’t an adventure among the stars as the first novel in the trilogy: this time the dangers come on a planet by its various inhabitants. Those are sentient humanoids who don’t want strangers among them but also a jungle that conceals many lethal dangers.
During their search, the mercenaries also meet Vreya, a girl native of the planet Arkuu. Between her and Morgan Chane something stars but you can’t say there’s a love story. In the science fiction works of that time there was little room for that kind of romance and this is an element more typical of Leigh Brackett, Edmond Hamilton’s wife. Although officially the twi authors rarely worked together, actually they often collaborated and in the “The Closed Worlds” Brackett’s influence on her husband is more evident than usual.
“The Closed Worlds” is an example of adventurous science fiction of the past. The story has a fast pace with lots of twists and a linear plot. If you look for sense-of-wonder without too many complications I recommend reading it.