I have recently found myself, for the first time in my life, with excess time on my hands. I also discovered that napping with the dogs, while normally pure delight, can get old after a couple of months. Being a bit of a hoarder I decided to investigate and find just what I have been hoarding all of these years...wow! Boxes and boxes of old SiFi books! I gathered the "nap crew" and we began reading some old, old friends that we had forgotten about.
"The Alien," by Raymond F. Jones was first published in 1951. The book I am reviewing here; the one I have had stashed away, is the 1966 Belmont Productions, Inc. edition and a fine edition it was and is. I must note that in 1966 when I bough this thing it sold for 50 cents but actually cost me 35 cents because I bought it at the PX in Ankara, Turkey. I remember that the .35 cents had a major impact on by budget at the time.
Anyway, Raymond F. Jones was born in 1915 and passed away in Utah in 19994. During his life he published 12 books and at least 76 short stories. The short stories appeared, for the most part, in publications such as Thrilling Wonder Stories, Astounding Stories and Galaxy. These small SiFi monthly or quarterly editions were meat and potatoes for my reading program when I was a kid. Jones published his last novel, "Syn" in 1969. Most of his productive writing was done in the very late 1940s then he hit his peak during the 1950s and went on into the early 1960s. He was a very competent SiFi writer and was one of the pioneers in the field.
"The Alien" is of course a futuristic novel - a "space soap." if you will. About 500,000 years ago there lived on Mars, a race so superior and so much more intelligent than ours that we did not hold a candle to it. (I should be noted that in my opinion, that is not that great a leap and really not all that much to brag about as far as old Martians go). Anyway, this advanced and superior race who knew all the secrets of the universe; of life and death and immortality, chose to have one man come back to life precisely 500,000 years after his death. Oh my! This is the story of the affect the appearance of this man had upon the Galaxy World...it set planet against planet, ideology against ideology and man against man and indeed - life against death.
The Galaxy has been warned as another ancient civilization light years from earth left a cube inscribed:
"Destroy the contents of the protoplasm chamber without mercy. Demarsule is there and he will be the scourge of any civilization in which he arises. HE dreams of conquests and he will not rest until he is master of the Universe. He has destroyed galaxies; he will destroy others if he lives again. Kill him!"
Will mankind listen to this dire warning? Would we listen today? Will the earth and galaxy and mankind be saved?
Sorry...no spoilers here!
This work is quite well written, in particular when you consider it is the author's first published novel. The story moves at a good clip. It is very, very typical 1950s space opera; something I dearly love. Of course when reading this work you MUST remember when it was written and what sort of scientific and social knowledge the author had access to.
This is one you need to add to your list especially if you are interested in the history of the SiFi genre.