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Wasp (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Paperback]

Eric Frank Russell
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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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 unsuspecting enemy. Intensively trained, his appearance surgically altered, James Mowry is landed on Jaimec, the 94th 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 finest novel, a witty and exciting account of a covert war in the heart of enemy territory.

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Wasp (S.F. MASTERWORKS) + This Is the Way the World Ends (S.F. MASTERWORKS) + The Gods Themselves (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (9 May 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0575129042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575129047
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The classic novel of urban terrorism.

About the Author

Eric Frank Russell (1905-1978) was the first British writer to contribute regularly to ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, his first story, 'The Saga of Pelican West', appearing in that magazine in 1937. His novels include SINISTER BARRIER, WASP and THE GREAT EXPLOSION, and his short fiction has appeared in a number of collections.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 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 Mr. S. Storey TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wasp 9 Oct 2013
By Steve D TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Two thumbs up for a great humourist. 28 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed E.F. Russell's humour. Again!
If you liked it, read Next Of Kin too. It's... even better.
Sadly writers with his sense of humour are rare.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable 2 Aug 2013
By Phil
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to Wasp for several months while it sat preordered on my Amazon account.

In reading it was quite a bit different in tone to what I had pictured but still enjoyable. A decent Sci Fi spy story. Short and quickly read.
The language is very much in the same vein as most 50-60's Sci Fi (apologies is this was written earlier), something which I quite enjoy the simplicity of and most Sci Fi readers will be familiar with if you have read through the classics.

One thing occurred to me after reading this, without checking back I can't remember a single female being mentioned in the book, not just a lack of characters - not even people in the street scenes!
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