Publisher: Pyramid Books
First Pyramid Edition, 1964
Cover Art: Ed Emshwiller
Plot Synopsis (of cover): The First Royal Lance Brigade was out marching in formation, as was their daily tradition, when the spaceship landed. The vessel in question was clearly alien to their verdant fields. Still, their hearts were brave and pure, and the intrusion into their bucolic kingdom would not be met without the valiance of noble steel. “Come on, men!” the Captain of the Brigade, Sir Loyal Codpiece, beckoned. “We shall win the day against our strange foe, and taketh for ourselves their glimmering vessel as our prize!” First Officer Faraday raised his hand, but Sir Codpiece continued on. “Yes, our swords shall turn any invader, and our spears shall cast despair into the hearts of those who would sack our lands!” Faraday’s hand began waving with urgency. “We shall… we… ugh. Yes, Faraday? What is it?” Relieved to be called upon, Faraday let out a bated breath. “Sir, with all respect, I do appreciate the braveness and pureness of our hearts, and, of course, the valiance of our steel.” “Don’t forget the nobility of the steel, Faraday. It’s quite noble,” the Captain interjected. “Oh, yea, verily,” Faraday corrected, “the noblest. And not to cast aspersions upon thine most noble and valiant and stalwart person… but, just this once, can’t we use our fucking ray guns?”
Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: What a delightful little book. It reminded me quite a bit of a weirder Warlock In Spite Of Himself. The novel does a great job of keeping a reader guessing. It uses a combination of technologies old and new very well to drive its various political pretzeling. It also exploits the idea of cultural imperialism in a subversive way, much as only a sci-fi novel of its period can, but it does so, if not with subtlety, with efficacy. I wish I were in a position to review this novel as a newcomer to the genre, but, sadly, I’m a jaded cunt with an echo ’round his bones and too many dreams of electric sheep, so I hope that I’m not just loving this because I love things like this. To sum up, this is like a really well-prepared burger. It’s not haute cuisine, but it’s satisfying on a level that only things that aren’t haute cuisine can be.
Rating: 9.5 Hastily-Invented Telegraphs
Questions for Critical Cover-Viewing:
- When did the Nazis start making V2 rockets with antlers?
- Where’s the Blue Team’s castle?
- Hey, Spaceship. When Batman called, did he ask for his utility belt back?