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The Falling Torch (Pyramid SF, N3430) [Mass Market Paperback]

Algis Budrys


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Pyramid Publications (1 Jan 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0515034304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0515034301
  • ASIN: B000MKP1Q6
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 10.8 x 2.5 cm

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of a man who finds his cause 2 May 2000
By Travis Pribusauskas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Falling Torch is one of those stories that you, or at least I, can connect with. This is due in no small part to the fact that Michael Wireman, the main character is a believable person. He's not superman and he's not Jojo the idiot circus boy. He's just a guy in the right place at the right time. The right ancestry couldn't have hurt. Wireman's the son of the president of the solar system., not that it means much on Alpha Centaur. It seems Earth and the solar system are under "Invader" control. The only thing his father presides over is a government in exile that the centurians could care less about. Then one day the situation changes...
since I didn't see a synopsis provided by Amazon (unusual) I'll copy it down here: Wireman came back to a vanquished Earth on a mission to save it. What he learned was that the guerrillas were corrupt and the average citizen would just as soon be left alone. And he wasn't in very good shape himself.
1991 paperback synopsis
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting SF with perhaps new relevance 11 Aug 2006
By B. Rogosky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My comments are for the audiobook version, which I assume is basically the same.

The book starts describing in some detail the Earth at a time after the Invaders were defeated and then backtracks to the "past" of how this came about. The portrayals of the characters and politics are excellent.

The resolve of the exiled Earth president sets his son into action to return to Earth and help the ongoing resistance to the Invaders. The Invaders are portrayed as benefactors rather than aggressors by the Earth people who have grown accustom to their rule. Yet some human "exiles" raise a resistance of sorts, but primarily just fight among themselves. When the main character arrives he sets into motion events that lead to the attack against the Invaders at a critical time.

The themes have to do with what an ordinary and initially highly moral person can accomplish when put into extreme circumstances. The psychology of his conflict between moral standards against murder versus survival and freedom are brought out well if not fully explored. Interestingly the Invaders play a similar role in bringing out this theme but more in the background.

My biggest dissappointment with the book is that these themes are not explored further. The ending seems abrupt, but I suppose, if I'm left wanting more that may also be a sign of a good book.
4.0 out of 5 stars Alien Invasion Trope contorted with limited success.... 4 April 2012
By Mithridates VI of Pontus - Published on Amazon.com
Algis Budrys' The Falling Torch (1959) is on the surface yet another simplistic brave oppressed mankind rebelling against the alien invaders who have conquered Earth novel à la Aldiss' Bow Down to Nul (variant title: The Interpreter) (1960) and the ilk. And I was deluded into thinking it was until a third of the way through and then inklings of a deeper, albeit not entirely redeeming, purpose/meaning emerged. The message is laboriously and inarticulately conveyed -- shackled and hampered by its time worn and altogether too restrictive plot.

Budrys attempts to wiggle within his confines by creating a character study charting the coming of age of our less than heroic main character who emerges from the artificial constructs heaped on him by his exiled parents who look back on free Earth with nostalgic longing. However, like the author's unsuccessful articulation of the work's themes, the "growth" of our "hero" isn't entirely evident unless the plot demands that he has indeed evolved.

The Falling Torch is clearly trying to evoke the post-War environment of Budrys' Soviet homeland, Lithuania. However, the equation of Soviets with aliens which look like humans but can't breed with humans again is evidence of the painfully clunky nature of the work.

Brief Plot Summary (limited spoilers)

Earth has been conquered by the human-like Invaders. However, Earth's colony of Alpha Centauri has remained free. Many years have passed since the conquest and a government for Free Earth still exists on Alpha Centauri. The Centaurians are reluctant to give outright support to the government and its vague and unsustained attempts to free the home planet.

Budrys established the Centaurians as detached from the sufferings of Earth due to their distance from the home planet which has resulted in not only in a different dialect but an entirely distinct culture. Here the work is at its best -- showing the complications seldom addressed by the traditional narrative. However, with the growing threat of the Invaders on Centauri territories they are pushed into action.

The President of Free Earth on Centauri is an old man. His entire cabinet is beset with the more pressing concerns of daily existence in a foreign society. The Centaurian System Organization (C.S.O.), a military organization, offers to clandestinely ship weapons to various separatists which still exist in Earth's hills. The President delegates the task to his rather unintelligent son, Michael.

By the time Michael arrives on Earth with the weapons he suddenly possesses much greater intellect, training, etc then he previously showed (i.e. the plot demanded it and Budrys didn't want to elaborate on Michael's evolution of character).

Soon Michael realizes that the separatists on Earth are driven more by petty squabbles and rivalries than any real desire to free the planet from the oppressors, who really aren't that oppressive. Michael decided to surrender to the Invaders... And then...

Final Thoughts (Some Spoilers)

Without doubt The Falling Torch is more than the run of the mill push out the evil aliens that have brutally enslaved the planet. Budrys has Michael encounter people who have found a respectable place within the new society, he attempts to humanizes the aliens, and even suggests that their reign isn't that terrible -- for example, they allow the dissidents to run around in the hills as long as they don't attack and even administer a work placement test to anyone who wants a chance to assimilate.

All the positives of the work are hampered by the banal plot. Also, Budrys skips over the difficult moments of the narrative: key moments in Michael's evolution of character and most importantly, Michael's entire eventual movement to "free" earth! At least the "freedom" has various complicating caveats.

The work with its thought-provoking themes has the potential for a great novel. Unfortunately, The Falling Torch remains a work of unfulfilled promises.
4.0 out of 5 stars Alien Invasion Trope contorted with limited success.... 4 April 2012
By Mithridates VI of Pontus - Published on Amazon.com
Algis Budrys' The Falling Torch (1959) is on the surface yet another simplistic brave oppressed mankind rebelling against the alien invaders who have conquered Earth novel à la Aldiss' Bow Down to Nul (variant title: The Interpreter) (1960) and the ilk. And I was deluded into thinking it was until a third of the way through and then inklings of a deeper, albeit not entirely redeeming, purpose/meaning emerged. The message is laboriously and inarticulately conveyed -- shackled and hampered by its time worn and altogether too restrictive plot.

Budrys attempts to wiggle within his confines by creating a character study charting the coming of age of our less than heroic main character who emerges from the artificial constructs heaped on him by his exiled parents who look back on free Earth with nostalgic longing. However, like the author's unsuccessful articulation of the work's themes, the "growth" of our "hero" isn't entirely evident unless the plot demands that he has indeed evolved.

The Falling Torch is clearly trying to evoke the post-War environment of Budrys' Soviet homeland, Lithuania. However, the equation of Soviets with aliens which look like humans but can't breed with humans again is evidence of the painfully clunky nature of the work.

Brief Plot Summary (limited spoilers)

Earth has been conquered by the human-like Invaders. However, Earth's colony of Alpha Centauri has remained free. Many years have passed since the conquest and a government for Free Earth still exists on Alpha Centauri. The Centaurians are reluctant to give outright support to the government and its vague and unsustained attempts to free the home planet.

Budrys established the Centaurians as detached from the sufferings of Earth due to their distance from the home planet which has resulted in not only in a different dialect but an entirely distinct culture. Here the work is at its best -- showing the complications seldom addressed by the traditional narrative. However, with the growing threat of the Invaders on Centauri territories they are pushed into action.

The President of Free Earth on Centauri is an old man. His entire cabinet is beset with the more pressing concerns of daily existence in a foreign society. The Centaurian System Organization (C.S.O.), a military organization, offers to clandestinely ship weapons to various separatists which still exist in Earth's hills. The President delegates the task to his rather unintelligent son, Michael.

By the time Michael arrives on Earth with the weapons he suddenly possesses much greater intellect, training, etc then he previously showed (i.e. the plot demanded it and Budrys didn't want to elaborate on Michael's evolution of character).

Soon Michael realizes that the separatists on Earth are driven more by petty squabbles and rivalries than any real desire to free the planet from the oppressors, who really aren't that oppressive. Michael decided to surrender to the Invaders... And then...

Final Thoughts (Some Spoilers)

Without doubt The Falling Torch is more than the run of the mill push out the evil aliens that have brutally enslaved the planet. Budrys has Michael encounter people who have found a respectable place within the new society, he attempts to humanizes the aliens, and even suggests that their reign isn't that terrible -- for example, they allow the dissidents to run around in the hills as long as they don't attack and even administer a work placement test to anyone who wants a chance to assimilate.

All the positives of the work are hampered by the banal plot. Also, Budrys skips over the difficult moments of the narrative: key moments in Michael's evolution of character and most importantly, Michael's entire eventual movement to "free" earth! At least the "freedom" has various complicating caveats.

The work with its thought-provoking themes has the potential for a great novel. Unfortunately, The Falling Torch remains a work of unfulfilled promises.
4.0 out of 5 stars Alien invasion trope contorted with limited success.... 4 April 2012
By Mithridates VI of Pontus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Algis Budrys' The Falling Torch (1959) is on the surface yet another simplistic brave oppressed mankind rebelling against the alien invaders who have conquered Earth novel à la Aldiss' Bow Down to Nul (variant title: The Interpreter) (1960) and the ilk. And I was deluded into thinking it was until a third of the way through and then inklings of a deeper, albeit not entirely redeeming, purpose/meaning emerged. The message is laboriously and inarticulately conveyed -- shackled and hampered by its time worn and altogether too restrictive plot.

Budrys attempts to wiggle within his confines by creating a character study charting the coming of age of our less than heroic main character who emerges from the artificial constructs heaped on him by his exiled parents who look back on free Earth with nostalgic longing. However, like the author's unsuccessful articulation of the work's themes, the "growth" of our "hero" isn't entirely evident unless the plot demands that he has indeed evolved.

The Falling Torch is clearly trying to evoke the post-War environment of Budrys' Soviet homeland, Lithuania. However, the equation of Soviets with aliens which look like humans but can't breed with humans again is evidence of the painfully clunky nature of the work.

Brief Plot Summary (limited spoilers)

Earth has been conquered by the human-like Invaders. However, Earth's colony of Alpha Centauri has remained free. Many years have passed since the conquest and a government for Free Earth still exists on Alpha Centauri. The Centaurians are reluctant to give outright support to the government and its vague and unsustained attempts to free the home planet.

Budrys established the Centaurians as detached from the sufferings of Earth due to their distance from the home planet which has resulted in not only in a different dialect but an entirely distinct culture. Here the work is at its best -- showing the complications seldom addressed by the traditional narrative. However, with the growing threat of the Invaders on Centauri territories they are pushed into action.

The President of Free Earth on Centauri is an old man. His entire cabinet is beset with the more pressing concerns of daily existence in a foreign society. The Centaurian System Organization (C.S.O.), a military organization, offers to clandestinely ship weapons to various separatists which still exist in Earth's hills. The President delegates the task to his rather unintelligent son, Michael.

By the time Michael arrives on Earth with the weapons he suddenly possesses much greater intellect, training, etc then he previously showed (i.e. the plot demanded it and Budrys didn't want to elaborate on Michael's evolution of character).

Soon Michael realizes that the separatists on Earth are driven more by petty squabbles and rivalries than any real desire to free the planet from the oppressors, who really aren't that oppressive. Michael decided to surrender to the Invaders... And then...

Final Thoughts (Some Spoilers)

Without doubt The Falling Torch is more than the run of the mill push out the evil aliens that have brutally enslaved the planet. Budrys has Michael encounter people who have found a respectable place within the new society, he attempts to humanizes the aliens, and even suggests that their reign isn't that terrible -- for example, they allow the dissidents to run around in the hills as long as they don't attack and even administer a work placement test to anyone who wants a chance to assimilate.

All the positives of the work are hampered by the banal plot. Also, Budrys skips over the difficult moments of the narrative: key moments in Michael's evolution of character and most importantly, Michael's entire eventual movement to "free" earth! At least the "freedom" has various complicating caveats.

The work with its thought-provoking themes has the potential for a great novel. Unfortunately, The Falling Torch remains a work of unfulfilled promises.
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