Pikku taking her stand atop a bookcase in the midst of my most recent library reshuffle (ongoing).

Man vs. the Monsters

Murray Leinster’s The Forgotten Planet is as perfect an example of classic science fiction as one could hope to find. It’s a 1950s’ ”fix-up” novel of a few stories from the 1920s. In that sense, it is almost a century old.

On the surface it qualifies as pure adventure, and thankfully without the clunky sophomoric (as if teen-imagined) view of romance that used to dominate pulp sf. (You know: pulchritudinous blonde daughter of a bespectacled scientist thrown together with a teen athlete boy or a nerd.) But it is rigorously worked out from a simple premise, and is as “hard science” as this sort of thing can be.

It is, in fact, the best example of a fix-up that I can think of, for it is seamless in its construction. Well, not exactly, I guess: the prologue and epilogue are the most obvious fix-up parts, a tad more elegantly written than the crisply narrated body of the text. But that’s apt, too.

It really is impressive.

And it is an apparent inspiration for Brian Aldiss’s masterwork, Hothouse. Like it, we have non-civilized human being in the future in constant battle for survival on an alien planet. In this case, though, it’s not Earth. The planet is not named. After multiple seedings of life, the barren planet was forgotten by human interstellar civilization, and then a ship crashed on it, and the survivors had to fend for themselves, losing their culture in the process. The story features one young man who begins to develop an ability to think, and to dare to try new ways to survive. Against giant spiders and insects, mainly.

A very few typos in this edition. I have another, early Ace edition of this book, but cannot find it. When I find it I’ll sell one of them. Or both? I hate to get rid of books I may need to refer to again.