Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, January 26, 2018

FORGOTTEN BOOK: AN EARTH GONE MAD

An Earth Gone Mad by Roger Dee (1954)


Roger Dee, the name Georgian Roger Dee Aycock (1914-2004) used for some fifty+ science fiction stories from 1949 through 1962 (with one additional tale in 1971), published only one novel in his lifetime -- and that appeared as one-half of an Ace Science Fiction Double.  Dee's only other "book" that I know of is an e-Book collection of thirteen public domain stories that Wildside Press published as a science fiction "megapack;" ten of the thirteen stories are also available from Project Gutenberg.  (Wildside also is the only English publisher to republish An Earth Gone Mad, as a trade paperback in 2012.)

The book -- actually a novella -- first saw print in the November 1952 issue of Startling Stories as "The Star Dice," billed as a "complete novel."  It was expanded (ever so slightly, I believe) for it's Ace publication and packaged with the needlessly retitled The Rebellious Stars (original title The Stars Like Dust) by Isaac Asimov.

The story itself is run-of-the-mill pulp SF. 

Paul Shannon is a space engineer for Solar Services who survived a crash landing on Jupiter's moon Io -- an isolated and deadly orb.  He survives with the help of the Kyril, a member of a secretive Ionian race who has befriend Shannon and who has spent two years helping him to jury-rig Shannon's spaceship into serviceable order.  Knowing that he has been lost to his fiance for the past two years, he is anxious to get back to Earth.  He takes off in his not-ready-for-prime-time ship,aiming roughly for Earth.  He lands somewhere in Colorado to a much different world than that he had left.

A bit over a year and a half ago, mysterious cubes (the "star dice" of the magazine title) appeared in the skies.  These solid cubes began to influence humans, giving them a complete sense of peace.  This sense of peace included a total lack of resistance to just about anything.  Some of these "Cubists" have been used by others as willing slaves.  The number of Cubists is growing rapidly and the cubes may soon take over the entire human race.  Supporting the Cubists are the syndicates, including Solar Services, who have a vested interest in the cheap labor the Cubists provide, and the government, who see the Cubists as a major political bloc.  Opposed to the Cubists are the Guilds, who espouse violence in getting rid of the Cubists.  There also several small groups of scientists; one, utilizing a recently discovered faster than light drive, plans to send an arc to 61 Cygni to rebuild humanity; another, led by Shannon's best friend, plans to use the light drive for another purpose (I don't think this purpose was ever mentioned, but then this is pulp -- keep the story moving, don't worry about details).

Shannon's fiance and her mother have both become Cubists and Shannon is stunned at the compliant, cow-like person his fiance has become.  While trying to sort out his thoughts, she is sent to a Cubist "Peace Center" in another part of the country.  His fiance's mother has been murdered by Guild members. Shannon is thrown in with Ruth Nugent (she of the "deep breasted roundness"), the daughter of the inventor of the light drive.  They team up with Gil Lucas, Shannon's childhood friend, and find themselves on the run from the many factions vying against each other.  standard pulp chasing and derring-do follow.

Question remain.  What are the cubes?  What is their purpose?  Where did they come from?  Can they stopped?  Should they be stopped?  Can any side or faction be trusted?

Are there any deeper themes to this story?  I suppose if you squinted real hard just after dusk in an unlit room, you might find a dystopic anti-McCarthyism thread here and there.  Or not.  I doubt deep thoughts were not at the forefront when this was written.

Anthony Boucher, reviewing this book in F&SF, said An Earth Gone Mad "is routine cosmic melodrama in the manner of a road company van Vogt, far removed from the originality of Dee's best shorter stories."  And, in Galaxy, Groff Conklin dismissed the book with:  "Dee's ominous-pitched piece of turgidity about a world of tomorrow in which some sort of alien 'things' are gradually taking over the human race, individual by individual, turning them into willing slaves."

Yet...

My opinion is slightly better.  This is not a great book and it is not a good book, but I found it a fairly entertaining book.-- one of those easily digested and quickly forgotten time-wasters that I occasionally seek out and devour.  I am not too proud to say that I had fun with it.

6 comments:

  1. We intersect again ... though my review of AN EARTH GONE MAD (and THE REBELLIOUS STARS) appeared a while ago: http://rrhorton.blogspot.com/2016/08/an-old-ace-double-rebellious-stars-by.html

    That was pretty cool a couple of week ago when entirely at random we posted about LIEUT. GULLIVAR JONES ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you following me, Rich, or am I following you? I swear I hear footsteps behind me at night. Do you?

      Delete
    2. Don't look back, they might be gaining on you!

      Delete

  2. شركة كيان لنقل العفش بالرياض والمدينة المنورة وجدة ومكة والطائف والدمام تقديم لكم دليل كامل لشركات نقل العفش بالمملكة العربية السعودية

    نقل عفش شركة كيان
    دليل شركات نقل العفش
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة

    ReplyDelete

  3. شركة نقل عفش
    اهم شركات مكافحة حشرات بالخبر كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذلك شركة رش حشرات بالدمام ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة الجوهرة من افضل شركات تنظيف الخزانات بجدة حيث ان تنظيف خزانات بجدة يحتاج الى مهارة فى كيفية غسيل وتنظيف الخزانات الكبيرة والصغيرة بجدة على ايدى متخصصين فى تنظيف الخزانات بجدة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش واثاث

    ReplyDelete