Saturday, 19 April 2014

60s Saturday Sci-Fi Scans

It's easy to see that a lot of science fiction deals with control, but the why seems so elusive. Who are the mysterious "they" and why are they so prevalent? What happens when the hero goes up against Big Space Mega Corp? It's a topic that science fiction loves to explore over and over again like in...


An unthinkably vast, invisible, and absolutely impenetrable screen imprisoned man within the solar system.

Cut off from the stars, men applied their ingenuity to themselves, setting up a world of total control - where even dreams were programmed.

If this sounds a little mystifying, the inside page reveals a little more:

Spacepilot Dod liked his work. It was dull and monotonous, and that was fine for the loyal, unthinking employee of the all-powerful Dog Company - the fourth of the original governing organizations, which had long since swallowed up Able, Baker, and Charlie, the first three.

And then, on his 71st routine trip between Pluto and Moonbase, a glowing light encircled his head. And strange, unnerving things began to enter his mind: curiosity, doubt, and even...ideas!

This 1965 book by Brian N. Ball presents a dystopia where an average Joe turns out to be key to the whole scheme. TV Tropes does a great job defining the Mega Corp, but doesn't quite get to the why. I think I know what it is though - as in so many fantasy and science fiction books, the main characters figure out how to control a situation where they should have none. Maybe toss in some anxiety caused by social upheaval, increased automation and a lack of the promised shiny post-World War 2 future, and the seed of a story sprouts. The cover - where I wish the head was much larger - is by Don Crowley. It really speaks Dod's mental state, perhaps even more so than Ball's writing.