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Of Men and Monsters (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Kindle Edition]

William Tenn
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Giant, technologically superior aliens have conquered Earth, but humankind survives - even flourishes in a way. Men and women live, like mice, in burrows in the massive walls of the huge homes of the aliens, and scurry about under their feet, stealing from them. A complex social and religious order has evolved, with women preserving knowledge and working as healers, and men serving as warriors and thieves.

For the aliens, men and women are just a nuisance, nothing more than vermin. Which, ironically, may just be humankind's strength and point the way forward.

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Product Description

Book Description

'One of the genre's very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers' THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE

About the Author

William Tenn (1920-2010) was the pseudonym of Philip Klass. Although he was born in London, he spent most of his life in America, teaching writing and SF at Pennsylvania State College from 1966. He began writing after serving in the Second World War and published his first story, 'Alexander the Bait' in ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION in 1946. Stories like 'Down Among the Dead Men', 'The Liberation of Earth' and 'The Custodian' quickly established him as a fine, funny and thoughtful satirist. In 1999 William Tenn was selected the Science Fiction Writers of America's Author Emeritus.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange and satirical, but not dangerously so. 13 May 2013
By Behan
From the opening quote onward, this book, with its tiny humans and giant, inscrutable aliens, is begging for comparison to Gulliver's Travels, and it stands within a proud tradition of fantastical post-apocalypse SF, such as Hothouse, Non-Stop and Riddley Walker. All these stories use SF to examine Man by putting him in a new context, by making him small and savage and a stranger in a strange land.

Don't worry that this review is starting to read like an essay in comparative literature: This is an exciting afternoon's escapism, where men live like mice in the buildings of giant alien invaders, who regard humans as vermin. As seems inevitable in the eyes of SF writers, post-apocalyptic humanity has reverted to tribal barbarism and superstition; the story concerns a plucky young lad called Eric, who must find his way in this confusing world. It's terribly good fun and the sense of adventure and jeopardy kept me rolling through the pages: much like the Aldisses I mentioned, this is fiction first and speculation later.

As for the title, it's less a nod to Steinbeck, than to the Robert Burns ode. Ultimately, Tenn's humane view is that we are feeble, back-biting little parasites by nature, and the best we can do is embrace it, since our best laid plains gang SO aft agley.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deserves being called a classic 28 April 2013
By humanitysdarkerside VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Of Men and Monsters" is another novel that belongs in the classic category. It's not very difficult to see that William Tenn likes to turn things upside down. He is considered one of the foremost satirists of his generation and he is very good at making me think about mankind in a different way. Like all good satires, the ending is bizarre but at the same time believable, given the circumstances described. I've seen that others have found the book hilarious, but I can't say that I did. To me, "Of Men and Monsters" was more thoughtfully funny.

I couldn't help thinking of Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" (one of the most beautifully written books I've read) when I read the title. "Of Men and Monsters" is Tenn's only full-length novel. I read it one reading, not wanting to put it down. These old-timers were excellent writers.

In "Of Men and Monsters" the earth has been conquered by gigantic aliens (monsters). Humans have become vermin, living in the walls of the houses of these monsters living like mice, rats and cockroaches off the spoils of the monsters. One of the tribes of men calls itself Mankind. In Mankind lives a boy (soon to be man) called Eric the Only (single child). As part of his initiation as a man, Eric needs to go out into the Monster territory. As his journey progresses he finds betrayal, adventure and love.

People are treated pretty much as we treat our own lab animals. Experiment on them or kill them. Tenn also makes fun of the way people behave when their beliefs self-images are challenged. We pretty much see people behaving as people would, and there really is nothing funnier than that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rats in the Walls 12 April 2013
By Jason
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a nice little book, a future primitive tale that is actually a satire on humanity and our inflated view of ourselves. Sounds boring? It's not.

After being invaded by an alien species, what's left of humanity lives by becoming scavengers, literally rats in the walls. Despite this, they still dream of striking back and becoming the rulers of Earth once more.

The book explores the alien Earth through the eyes of Eric the Only, a newly-initiated male in the tribe of Mankind (all 128 of them). As well as living under the alien's dominion, he has to survive political and religious conflict among what's left of humanity.

It's not a large book, but it didn't need to be to tell its story. Unlike some, I don't a sequel was necessary, there was no doubt of what humanity's destiny would be.

I'm glad this one has been resurrected by the SF Masterworks imprint; it deserves to be read again and remembered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic 22 Nov. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As most of the other reviewers so far have written, it is a nice book.

I had read years ago Part I of the story, which appeared with the title "The Men In The Walls" in "Monsters - Isaac Asimov's Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction - 8" ( It had a hanging ending, and left me wanting to read me from William Tenn.

When I realized a few weeks ago that the story was in fact longer, I ordered "Of Men and Monsters".

Part II is longer than Part I, but not so interesting. The plot is slightly weaker, and the end, as another reviewer pointed out, is a bit disappointing, and again a bit of a hanging ending.

Nevertheless, "Of Men and Monsters" is a quite enjoyable book, and I agree with the reviewer who called it a classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Afternoons Read!! 16 Dec. 2012
What if hundreds of years from now Earth had been colonised by monstrous alien beings and mankind had been annihilated almost to the point of extinction? This is the premise of William Tenn's novel as the remnants of mankind eke out an existence living in burrows doing their best to survive on stolen alien goods. In amongst these is Eric The Only, a youth on the verge of manhood who after a conversation with his uncle begins to question the status quo and where mankind is indeed heading and becomes caught up in a futuristic clash of idealogies.
Action and intrigue abound in writing which moves at a brisk pace leaving the reader plenty to ponder as mankind edges towards total extinction through new alien technology and Eric's race to find a mysterious people who may offer salvation. All in all a great read!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Great premise, started off well but the idiomatic language ...
Great premise, started off well but the idiomatic language and the risible female characterisation turned me totally off. Read more
Published 10 months ago by W. Rollason
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read
Published 11 months ago by glenn
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
This is an fantastic old school sci-fi book, overlooked by history. The narrative has the earth having been colonised centuries earlier by monstrous giant aliens, who came to earth... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book I have read this year and highly recommended.
I had never read any William Tenn before that I remember, although short fiction often flies by without the authors name being registered, but I have now added this name to my... Read more
Published on 10 Dec. 2012 by amak
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
An entertaining book with thought provoking subject matter well worth a read for any SF fan . Personally id like to see a film made but that's just me
Published on 19 July 2012 by A. M. Warman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Swiftian Satirist
I discovered Tenn in my teens, and have rediscovered him in recent years. The sharpest and wittiest of all SF writers in my opinion, but largely forgotten because most of his work... Read more
Published on 15 Jan. 2012 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Putting Man In His Place
The clue, of course, is in the title, a steal from Steinbeck's `Of Mice and Men' and relevant in the sense that the place of the mice in the original title has been taken by... Read more
Published on 26 Aug. 2010 by Rod Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Earth lies under the alien occupation
This has one of the more memorable opening lines in Science Fiction ...

"Mankind consisted of 128 people. Read more
Published on 6 Mar. 2007 by Marshall Lord
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