Divide and Rule
L. Sprague de Camp
originally serialized in Uknown, April and May 1939
Unknown, arguably the greatest fantasy magazine after Weird Tales, did publish some science fiction during its run. Not too surprising given the editor was John W. Campbell, Jr., the editor of Astounding Science Fiction.
Case in point, Divide and Rule by L. Sprague de Camp, who was an accomplished writer in both fantasy and science fiction. I enjoyed this one more than I have some of the other de Camp titles I’ve read in the last few years.
The story takes place a couple of hundred years in the future. Earth has been subjugated by an alien race known as hoppers. They’re a cross between a kangaroo and a rat. After studying Earth’s history, they concluded that the best way to keep humanity from uniting was to divide them up into feudal territories. Continue reading →
British science fiction author Eric Frank Russell was born on this date 111 years ago. (That’s January 6, 1905 for those of you reading this at a later date.)
Russell isn’t as well known as he should be these days. I’m not aware of any new editions of his work in the last decade or so. There are a couple of ebooks available on Amazon, but for the most part, you’ll have to look for his work in second hand editions of the two NESFA omnibuses (short fiction and novels) from about 15 years ago.
During World War II, Russell worked in the same unit in British Intelligence as a chap named Ian Fleming. Russell used some of the ideas he developed for sabotage in his novel Wasp. There’s an ebook version, and the book is included in Entities from NESFA. The novel is about a man sent behind enemy lines to disrupt and cause trouble. It’s essentially primer on how to be a terrorist without actually killing anybody. Like most of Russell’s work, there’s an element of humor that runs through it. These days, it’s hard to imagine a novel dealing with these themes that fits the description I gave, but Russell pulls it off. Continue reading →
On this day in 1910, John W. Campbell entered the world. It was a very different world when he left it on July 11, 1971. He envisioned much of that world and much of what followed his passing.
John Campbell was arguably the most influential science fiction and fantasy editor of the 20th Century. (Feel free to disagree in the comments.) Campbell began writing science fiction for the pulps. At first he published space opera under his own name. Not content to be a well regarded writer in the field, he began publishing moody, thoughtful stories under the name Don A. Stuart. He took the pen name from his wife’s maiden name, Dona Stuart. His most famous story under either byline is “Who Goes There?” by Don A. Stuart, which was filmed as The Thing From Another World (1951), The Thing (1982), and The Thing (2011). Continue reading →