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Wolfbane

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Dissertations-G; New edition edition (11 Dec. 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824014286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824014285
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 5.1 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,017,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Frederik Pohl was born in 1919 and has been professionally involved in sf as an editor and writer since his teens. Among his many books are A Plague of Pythons, Gateway, Man Plus and JEM: The Making of a Utopia.

C.M. Kornbluth (1923-1958) was the bureau chief of a Chicago news agency until 1951 when he took up fiction writing full time. He established himself very quickly as a brilliant short-story writer with works such as 'The Little Black Bag', 'The Marching Morons', 'The Cosmic Charge Account' and 'Two Dooms'. Pohl and Kornbluth started writing stories together in 1940 and their collaborations include The Space Merchants, Search the Sky and Gladiators-at-Law.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really, I would have given this three and a half stars. It is well written but a bit dated. All S.F. is really about the present day and this book takes place on an Earth that has been conquered and enslaved. Society is run on a kind of half-Japanese Zen culture (very formal, with rituals and meditation) and half Totalitarian indoctrination (China / Russia) - so a kind of mash-up of the societies that Americans found alien.
Our hero is a rebel and the tale follows his expulsion from the society and... well, I won't spoil it, but it's a good story.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has stayed in my mind since I first read it as a teenager. As we move into the 'information age' the power of what we gain and the 'nature' that we forsake are powerfully suggested here. Also, there is a very clear message delivered about society being what we choose to construct it to be.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x944906b4) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95af15f4) out of 5 stars Don't Miss The Deeper Point! 8 Jan. 2007
By S. Singer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's easy to miss the point of Kornbluth and Pohl's "Wolfbane". Sure, a starving humanity stratifies itself into "sheep" and "wolves." Still, the falsity of that stratification and - in fact - all dualities is at the heart of the book and really what these two brilliant sci-fi authors are trying to tell us.

The good news for sci-fi fans is we get a fascinating problem. A rogue planet pops into the solar system and steals Earth from orbit and there's nothing mankind can do. After all our weapons prove useless and no one returns from an invasion of the rogue planet, most of the human population dies out due to a dwindling food supply in the dwindling starlight as the solar system fades into the distance. And so we have a post-apocalyptic vision - shuffling drones and those few who rebel.

However, AFTER that set-up is when things really get good. The authors set up this almost insurmountable problem and then solve it. However, there's a deeper point here. At first, there seems to be an inherent criticism of meditation, but then the table turns in a way that you can only get in Sci-fi. Kornbluth and Pohl seem to ask us what's the difference between a wolf in sheep's clothing or a sheep in wolf's clothing - especially if you can't tell the difference? Thought-provoking stuff from sci-fi masters.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95af1840) out of 5 stars Another Pohl-Kornbluth Winner 15 Sept. 2011
By Elliot - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth are probably best known for two of their collaborations, "The Space Merchants" and "Gladiator-at-Law," two scathing satires of 1950s American capitalism which were not only funny send-ups of advertising (Merchants) and the legal profession (Gladiator) but also fast-paced adventures set in a future (but all-too-recognizable) America. "Wolfbane" is not nearly as well known, but is at least as good as those two classics, albeit very different in tone. The social satire is not nearly as pronounced in "Wolfbane," a story of a future earth that has been literally stolen from its orbit by unseen aliens. The sociological element is still there-- the book begins by imagining the type of society that would grown up in a world full of privation, in which humans are helpless victims of aliens who are unseen and inscrutable-- but the caustic criticism of 1950s America is replaced by an almost elegiac tone. As the book goes on, the tone changes, as one man slowly learns that it is possible to rebel against the aliens. I hear echoes of this book in a lot of later science fiction (including the "Matrix" films), but the novel has dated much less than most SF of its era. Highly recommended.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95af1804) out of 5 stars Conformity and rebellion 22 Dec. 2001
By Roger911 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I would never describe Wolfbane as great literature but it does have staying power. I read Wolfbane more than 35 years ago and still think of the novel's plot and ideas from time to time. It probably has the greatest appeal to young men who are feeling rebellious and nonconformist. But we all need help figuring out human nature and deciding what kind of human being we want to be. This is what makes Wolfbane a good read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95af1af8) out of 5 stars Battling the Alien Pyramid! 22 April 2011
By Maximiliano F Yofre - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Unfortunately for sci-fi fans, Cyril M. Kornbluth had a very short life (1923-1958). Nevertheless he was able to deliver several very good novels alone or usually in collaboration with other authors as "The Space Merchants" (1952) and "Gladiator-at-law" (1954) in collaboration with his friend Frederik Pohl, "Gunner Cade" (with Judith Merril 1952).

Frederik Pohl (1919) the other co-author is one "Sci-fi Golden Age" writers. He is still producing new books, imagine! He has authored more than one success as the already mentioned collaborations with Kornbluth, the underrated but excellent "Drunkard's Walk" (1960) and Hugo & Nebula winner "Gateway" (1977).

"Wolfbane" (1959) was Kornbluth's last novel, written before his fatal heart attack.

The plot is as follows: Earth has been dragged into deep space by a rogue planet, losing the sun as star. Instead the moon is an alternate sun reignited every five years by mysterious forces, probably related with an alien pyramid laid on Everest's top.

Human race has dwindled to ten million souls divided into ten thousand "wolves" and the rest submissive "lambs". "Wolves" are defiant and trying to liberate humanity from its prostrate state.
The chronicle of this struggle is the subject of the story.

This book is more centered in plot than in characters and that is its strength and weakness at the same time. The reader can't feel a deep identification with any character, but what is happening to humanity grows in significance. One other point to notice is the "compound mind" devised by the authors and compare it with Sturgeon's "More than Human".

Enjoy this somehow underrated and little known sci-fi classic!

Reviewed by Max Yofre
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95af1fe4) out of 5 stars Very strong, classic Golden Age start, weaker finish 25 May 2007
By Isaac S. Kohane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On settling down with this novel (on recommendation, I think I recall, of Instapundit) I enjoyed the flash of recognition of the classic SF style. Written well, with interesting, unexplained phenomenology (mysterious pyramids, Earth moving from the Solar System), followed by a "rational" "scientific" explanation within a sharply constrained set of premises. Unfortunately, perhaps because the length of this novel is probably 1/3 of a contemporary SF novel, the character development is limited. Also, the ending is consistent with the narrative arc but without any unforseen twists and therefore markedly anticlimactic. All in all, the pleasure from the first four fifths of the novel outweighed the weaker ending.
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