This was my first delve into Pohl and Kornbluth's collaborations, having read some of Pohl's highly-praised later works. Having come across the original Ballantine paperback, it is this version and not the revised re-issue ofWolfbane (Gollancz S.F.)
that I refer to. All in all, I was very much impressed.
Firstly, for a book written in 1959, it is remarkably well-preserved; the Matrix-like concepts in the second half of the book show that cyberpunk was not invented in the 1980's by William Gibson after all, and a good deal of the physics still holds up; sadly, we've made it to 2011 and thorium reactors are still a thing of the future...
The main issue I had with the book is that the story is a bit slow to get started and the dystopia described in the initial chapters is somewhat contrived. This whole book is knowingly bizarre and the contrast between the Wolf and Sheep societies is heavy-handed enough that those who require total plausibility in their SF may be put off. However, I found that soldiering on through this initially bewildering story paid dividends, as it is a well-written book that mines deep veins of satire, analysing the risks of ignorant piety, rugged individualism and dependence on technology, all lessons that hold up today.
Everything you could ask for in an SF novel is here, in an ambitious flourish that spirals from the humdrum horror of a conformist dystopia out to the reaches of space and the deep range of human consciousness. Marvellous.