The Blind Spot by Homer Eon Flint & Austin Hall (originally published in six parts in Argosy-All Story Weekly, May 14 - June 18, 1921; incompletely published [three parts only] in Famous Fantastic Mysteries, March - May/June 1940, then published in Fantastic Novels, July 1940; first published in hardcover by Prime Press, 1950; first published in paperback byb Ace Books, publ;ished numerous times since them)
Here is a science fiction "classic" at its creakiest and opinions differ wildly about its merits. Basically, "The :Blind Spot" is a portal between dimensions, although we are not told this until well into the book, which has the characters discussing The Blind Spot in mysterious terms because nobody has an inkling of what it is. A prominent professor is scheduled to make a presentation on what he calls The Blind Spot, promising the talk will be of earth-shaking importance, but he disappears just before he was to speak so nobody knows what the heck it is. And then there's the mysterious unearthly figure knonw as Rhmda Avec whom authorites cannot capture.
It's all a bit of a muddle.
CONFESSION TIME: I'm only half-way throught the book though I had hoped to finish in time for this review. So let me give a taste of other reviews of the novel, taken from goodreads.com:\
- From author John Peel - "This is an odd one, a collaboration between two authors -- and you can tell. The first one (Flint) wrote the first 17 chapters and then the rest of the book was finished by his friend Austin Hall. It's odd because they have utterly distinct styles, so the book abruptly changes. Flint is verbose and mystical, setting up the mystery, and Hall is diret and detailed as he sets out the solution...If you can last the first 17 chapters (and it's tough), the resolution is actually quite nice."
- From Warren Founier - "This weird classic of Radium Age Science Fiction was developed by the collaboration of two friends working in a shoe store, each who wrote approximately half the book somewhat independently rather than seamlessly meshing their ideas into a cohesive story. Hence, you have a very bipolar work of fantasy that just doesn't quite know what it wants to be." And on Chick Watson, who figure predominently in the second half of the book: "Chick Watson is a bore...When he arrives on the other side [i.e., in an alternate dimension], he remains in a coma for 11 months...[O]ne dashing priest is smitten with Chick's muscular and athletic physique and challenges him to hand to hand combat. Chick accepts the challenge confidently, as he had never lost any athletic competition before. The guy was an ematcated mess hanging out in burlesqye bars and getting smashed on brany in the first half, and now he is a superhero after n 11-month coma? I can suspend my belief as much as any scifi and fantasy fan, but this kind of thing is just insulting."
- And Leothefox said: "The first thing I'll say about this book is that there's a lot of it. It consists of 'accountts' from several narrators and spans nearly 350 pages, which is longer than my standard fare. For all its faults, it does read pretty well and pretty much delivers the goods in the end...none of the cliches were too jarring"
- And, according to Love of Hopeless Causes: "Probably awesome in its day. Forry Ackerman says, 'The most famous fantastic novel of all time.' ...I think Forrest doth let his tongue wag flatteringly a bit too much. I gave it the old non-college try; in fact several times. It's a sloww starter that bogs down."
- Kevin said: "The mystery is compelling, the science contemp;lative, and the characterizations attractive, Highly recommended."
- Fraser Sherman gave it three stars, writing: "I enjoyed this better than I remember doing in college, but it still fails (the 3 stars are for the good parts)...we follow one minor character through the Blind Spot of the title to another world. What should have been A. Merritt-class eerie is instead a generic lost race adventure with little to recommend it. I started skimming. A shame."
- Apryl Anderson remembers "reading this and loving it 20 yrs. ago...Read it again January 2019: Retro fun, yes, that describes it."
- And James notes: "One of my all-time favorite science fiction novels."
- And from Barry: "Interesting early 20th century metaphysical fantasy scifi but a bit long for its ultimate impact."
It will not surprise you to learn I've had THE BLIND SPOT on my shelves for decades...and haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I have the ACE Books edition. I didn't know there was a sequel. For books like THE BLIND SPOT from that era, I have to be in the Right Mood to read them. I admire you for tackling it!ReplyDelete
And if I remember Damon Knight's review correctly, it was Hall who wrote the muzzy, go-nowhere chapters, hen Flint took a turn, and Hall was back to finish (but I should confer with IN SEARCH OF WONDER again before saying anything...at this point, I don't remember if Knight grouped his review of this one in "Classics" (where every iota of the quotation marks was felt) or "Chuckleheads", usually reserved for more recent tosh. I do know I took this one as one of those that Knight or another critic read so I had no need to. Life's too short, and so's my eyespan.ReplyDelete