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WASP [Kindle Edition]

Eric Frank Russell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

The war had been going on for nearly a year and the Sirian Empire had a huge advantage in personnel and equipment. Earth needed an edge. Which was where James Mowry came in. If a small insect buzzing around in a car could so distract the driver as to cause that vehicle to crash, think what havoc one properly trained operative could wreak on an unuspecting enemy. Intensively trained, his appearance surgically altered, James Mowry is landed on Jaimec, the ninety-fourth planet of the Sirian Empire. His mission is simple: sap morale, cause mayhem, tie up resources, wage a one-man war on a planet of eighty million. In short, be a wasp. First published in 1957, WASP is generally regarded as Eric Frank Russell's best novel, a witty and exciting account of a covert war in the heart of enemy territory.

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Like several British SF authors working half a century ago, Eric Frank Russell developed a slick, wisecracking American narrative style for the US market. Wasp is an enjoyable example dating from 1957, whose engaging central idea is that--just as one tiny wasp distracting a driver can cause a fatal car crash--one carefully placed agent might spread enough chaos and misinformation to cripple a whole enemy world's war effort. Our reluctant hero James Mowry is told: "We want you to become a wasp."

The Sirian hordes who outnumber plucky little Earth by 12 to one are barely disguised German stereotypes from World War Two adventure fiction: beer-swilling or rather zith-swilling yokels, pompous bureaucrats and sadistic secret-police heavies. (The Sirian for "Yes" is, subtly, "Yar".) Secretly dumped on Jaimec--94th world of the Sirian empire--Mowry builds up the illusion of a non-existent anti-war resistance party. His weapons are fear, surprise, graffiti, stickers, bribes, anonymous letters, slanted gossip, judicious killings and little parcels that tick. Before long Jaimec's authorities are running in crazed circles, swiping blindly at this phantom army of traitors. It's a classic piece of SF wish-fulfilment.

Neatly comic turns of phrase provide needed relief as Sirian panic reaches hysteria level, their ponderous but efficient police machinery steps up its momentum, and Mowry's desperate ruses to avoid capture and torture become steadily more hair-raising. His story hits a satisfying climax followed by one last wry smile. A lightweight, unpretentious, pacy read. --David Langford

Book Description

A classic novel of urban terrorism.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 436 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0575129042
  • Publisher: Pollinger in Print (15 Jan. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003TFESY2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #126,599 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Masterpiece By Underrated Man 20 Nov. 2004
Format:Paperback
"Wasp" is yet another of that enormous sf library which I first encountered round about age eleven - and find myself still going back to at 56. Hope that says something about the books rather than about me. Be that as it may, it is a list to which the late Eric Frank Russell has contributed more than his fair share.
When things military come into Russell's tales, they tend to draw upon his personal experience from WW2, and "Wasp" is no exception. Based on proposals from Russell's time with British Intelligence in the Pacific theatre, it is the story of one man against an Empire - a solitary agent sent into the heart of enemy territory to cause chaos and mayhem out of all proportion to his resources.
James Mowry is the typical Russell hero, a solitary type not over-fond of authority, but who would, in his own words "rather walk into something than be frogmarched into it" and will, if absolutely cornered, acknowledge that some kinds of authority are a good deal nastier than others. He finds himself cordially invited to take part in just such a conflict to "defend the bad against the worse", between Terra and the Sirian Combine, a futuristic version of the Japanese Empire of 1942, which it resembles right down to the name of its secret police. He is dropped in (surgically disguised to resemble a Sirian) entirely on his ownsome, his assignment being to create, single-handed, the appearance of a powerful resistance movement. This he does to spectacular effect, causing the enemy to tie up whole shiploads of troops and agents to suppress a movement that in fact is only one man.
There is room for a quibble or two. Considering that "Wasp" is supposed to be several centuries in the future, the technology, save for the existence of spaceships, is remarkably little advanced on 1957.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, couldn't put it down..... 15 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a great book which sometimes keeps you gripped with suspense and other times has you laughing out loud. The language is simple and to the point which means that the story hurtles along and keeps you rushing back to your favourite chair to pick up where you left off.
After I'd finished it I lent it to a friend while on the last day of our holiday and he was so desperate to finish it that he didn't say a word all the way home.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There's a sting or two in this tale 28 Nov. 2013
By Steven TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Like many others, I happened to read this as a child and have made myself a mission to track down and re-read it. The concept of a Wasp, a thing that can cause mayhem disporportionate to its small size; is given to us early on and it's very fitting considering how the story pans out. The author spends very little time scene setting, after a time of space exploration we find we're not alone and sometime later, the war against the Sirians starts. Our hero is James Mowry, we know nothing of his motivations, his family, his life; his eligibility for the mission is that he was born in a cluster of outlying planets and can pass (with a little help) as one of the enemy. We see Mowry recruited, trained and dropped onto an enemy planet within the first few pages. His lone mission starts with subversion and propaganda before progressing to assassination and large scale sabotage. The tale is littered with a dry sense of humour and I like the strong fifties feel to it. This is more of a novella and the tale itself is linear, well structured, and the language is fairly basic so you can rattle through the pages with ease. I'm not a massive Sci-fi fan but I enjoyed it immensley, I easily bought into Mowry's action and evasion tactics, and this book is most likely the reason I became fascinated with espionage.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic "how to be a subversive" book! 23 July 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read this book many years ago (28) and only recently came a cross it again. This is one of those books that seems to get better with age, when it was written 'urban terrorism' was a new and untried concept. History has shown us how far ahead of its time the writer was. Definately a 'can't put it down read' for all you budding subversives!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wasp 9 Oct. 2013
By Steve D
Format:Paperback
I knew nothing about this book until I noticed it a few months ago in the upcoming SF Masterworks releases for this year. Written in 1957, this is golden era SF, a relatively brief novel that is all about the 'Big Idea'. It may be set on another planet but it has WWII and the Cold War written all over it. Characterisation takes a back seat as Russell paints a picture of a society living in fear and being manipulated by the spreading of rumour and discord. In a very loose way, parts of it reminded me of the tone of Alone In Berlin, as the central protagonist, James Mowry, surreptitiously posts letters and leaves seditious stickers on shop windows, constantly living in fear of discovery.

The title of Wasp is illustrated right at the start of the story, as Mowry's new employer tells him of how a wasp killed four people and wrecked a car just by flying through a window and distracting the driver. This is what Mowry is expected to do in enemy territory, and soon word of a rebel movement is spreading across the planet, and security forces are rounding up supposed members. As I say, there isn't much in the way of characterisation, and the dialogue is functional, although the whole narrative is awash with a sly wit which is something I find is very indicative of golden era SF.

Perhaps the story's biggest success is the way in which it made me as a reader question my own sympathies. On several occasions, as I was worried for Mowry as he made a skin-of-his-teeth escape from Sirian police, I realised that I was effectively rooting for a terrorist. Apparently Neil Gaiman had optioned the movie rights to the novel but stopped work on the screenplay when 9/11 happened.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A neat SF thriller
** spoiler alert **

I liked it, sure. But I expected more. Maybe if there had been a twist, like if the Sirians had been a nice liberal democracy instead of a borderline... Read more
Published 8 days ago by D. Morris
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel
Earth and its ‘Terran’ population is at war with the Sirian Empire and the hero James Mowry is called upon to do his bit. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Trainer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The book was just as I required and I was very pleased with order
Published 6 months ago by Peter read
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Certainly one of the best SF novels
Published 6 months ago by TJ Honest & Real
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An amazing read - written well before its read :)
Published 6 months ago by J Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars As author of The Quiet Way (available on Amazon & Kindle) it gives me...
As a budding author it is still nice to see typo's and missing words in a book that has been in print since I was 5 years old. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Robin Melhuish
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice twist of an ending
I read a few EFR short stories a long time ago and was curious whether he could sustain a full length story. He can. Read more
Published 9 months ago by gangwey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I first read this book when I was 14 years old, many years ago.
I still found it a great read, if a little dated. Fortunately I am a "little" dated also.
Published 9 months ago by LectricShox
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb book from my teen years, have already read it twice recently
Published 11 months ago by Elaine McLawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars A Scifi Classic
My dad handed me a copy of this for a trip away to England and told me it was the first scifi novel he'd read. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mr. Michael Cosgrove
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