Publisher: World Publishing Co.
First Ace Edition, 1954
Cover Art: Ed Valigursky
Plot Synopsis (of cover): Ruby’s eyes were slow to adjust to the light, as though she had been sleeping for far longer than she intended. In fact, she remembered as the grogginess cleared from her mind, she had been sleeping for, presumably, many years. Her 20th-century physicians had placed her into suspended animation upon the discovery that she had contracted a rare disease. Days left to live, she elected to throw her fate forward in time to the expertise of future generations of medicos. As the final fog lifted from her mind, her eyes slowly focused on a kind face. “Here, you’re a pretty one,” her savior remarked, lifting her from her sarcophagus. “Take it easy, now.” “How long have I been out?” she asked, that being the first of a chorus line of questions dancing through her mind. In reply, he brought a glass to her lips and said, “Oh, about four hours. Here, drink this. It’ll make you feel much better.” “Pbbpb!” she sputtered, “Doctor, this is gin! And what do you mean by saying I’ve only been asleep for four hours?” He smiled and said, “What do you mean by ‘Doctor’?”
Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: First of all, any kudos you were about to issue for the awesomeness of the title can be withheld on account of the terrible name with which Norton has saddled his protagonist: Dard Nordis. DARD NORDIS. I just read 183 pages of DARD. Poor bastard—they named his brother Lars. Anyway, what you’ve got here is your archetypal (probably a little too early to say “hackneyed”) post-WWII novel about a post-apocalyptic society (why, yes, I do believe I will have my Cold War paranoia with a side of mutually assured destruction, please) forced to live under the boot-heels of the oppressors. In this case, the governments of the world have bombed the planet from orbit and blamed it on the upstart scientists who had come together and decided that “hey, who do those world governments think they are pushing us around and why do we need them anyway?” Well, long story short, the governments, using the ever-so-motivating engine of widespread death and destruction, make scientific learning illegal but for the ruling class, and treat the descendants of people with PhDs like Jewish people were treated in Nazi work camps. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it’s exactly like what would have happened under a Santorum presidency. We pick up the narrative sometime around 2500, when the scientific resistance (much more fun than electrical resistance, but far less effective) decides, in a positively Farnsworthian revelation, that they don’t want to live on this planet anymore, and everyone fucks off into space where they meet space snakes and space dragons and space spiders and shit. As a final note, I’d like to re-iterate: DARD FUCKING NORDIS.
Rating: 8.0 Curiously Well-Maintained Supercomputers
Questions for Critical Cover Viewing:
* Do you suppose that future society has somehow perfected cryogenics before curing nearsightedness, or does the hipster craze for unnecessary glasses persist into the year 2500?
* Does she honestly think anybody’s gonna believe that’s her natural hair color?
* Did the two mansicles in the background decide to pull faces like they were painfully working through a bowel movement, or are there lesser-advertised side effects to the cryogenics process?