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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.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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