In Our Hands The Stars
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In Our Hands the Stars is written by Harry Harrison who is also the author of Deathworld, Make Room! Make Room! (filmed as Soylent Green), the popular Stainless Steel Rat books, and many other famous works of SF
I admit I haven't read either of Harrison's most popular series of The Stainless Steel Rat or Deathworld and that I desperately need to get a hold of a copy of each sometime. While I wait to stumble upon dog-earred copies of both, I bide my time by fingering through some of his lesser known work. Harrison's plague from space novel, The Jupiter Legacy (1970), was simple but entertaining. One of his short story collections, Prime Number (1970), was equally as short and entertaining (the 1978 and 1987 Sphere editions with some excellent art work). The same description can also label this novel (alternatively titled The Daleth Effect).
"The Daleth Effect: It started in a small way when a test bench disintegrated. Within weeks it produced a power that could life man to the stars. And within months it was the centre of a desperate power struggle--with Earth as the prize."
Israeli atmospheric tests reveal to Artie Klein that there are gravimetric anomalies during a chance solar flare. He investigated the phenomena to a greater degree and found a "wholly inexplicable force operating that seemingly reduced the probe's weight, but not its mass." (50) He assigned the Hebrew letter "Daleth" to the force and applied his mathematics in the lab to produce the Daleth Effect. However, his first successful test run also blew a hole in the wall of his laboratory.
Immediately realizing all implications for this technology, Artie finds his consciousness and flees Israel because he suspects the government would apply his invention to wartime activities rather than peacetime activities. Once in his birth country of Denmark, Artie unveils his modulated sort of energy to the Ove Rasmussen, the Nobel Prize winner for physics and local professor, who helps Artie apply his technology with the help of Captain Nils, a jet-setting SAS commercial airline pilot with a wife, but a playboy lifestyle.
Unwilling the share the Daleth Effect with either the American or Soviet embassies, a double agent gets wind of the gravity defying tests and shares the secret with both sides. At first, the rumor of a submarine landing on a moon to rescue stranded cosmonauts seemed ridiculous, but later sightings of levitating ships confirms the truth about the science. Artie struggles to keep his technology for peaceful Dutch commercial interests, but both sides of the Iron Curtain reconnoiter to benefit militarily.
As a science fiction lover, it surprises me that I kind of dislike the wondrous discovery of a easily applicable science which can send man to the stars. The Daleth Effect is easily attached to any metal hull and, instantly, the craft (be it a submarine, barge, or hovercraft) can repel gravity and hurl itself off the earth. This sort of cop-out is done with earlier science fiction like E.E. "Doc" Smith's The Skylark of Space (1928) and James Blish's Earthman, Come Home (1955). I guess I prefer to experience the research of the technology rather than just having it handed to me in the first chapter.
Like the previous Harrison books I've read, this was light reading with a straight forward linear plot with random burst of humor dotted within the twenty-five chapters. Harrison's skill with dialog outshines his lacking capacity to pen narrative passages with a "sense of wonder", therefore, most of the novel is composed of plot maneuvering dialog and verbal announcements of the character's emotions. Everything is as transparent as it can get, which leads me to believe it might have been aimed for a younger audience.
It's not bad. It's just overly simple with touches of betrayal to one's country and one's spouse, a little bit of second guessing, and a pinch of excitement for the conclusion. Ah, the conclusion! I thought the ending would have been as straight forward as the rest of the book, but the last 15 pages of the 217 page novel threw me for a bit of a loop. Good unexpected conclusion!
Besides Deathworld and Stainless Steel Rat listed above, I plan to procure some of this other works such as Make Room! Make Room! and his collections don't sound too bad either.
been clamped down on the entire affair. This is enough to lead me to believe that something very important is going on.” “I believe the same thing, Horst, the same thing.” Baxter’s eyes unfocused in thought and his fingers touched one of the pencils, picked it up, carried it to his mouth where he gnawed lightly at it. “This appears to be a big thing for the Danes, all the military involved, their state department, even a damned icebreaker. And that icebreaker makes me think of ice and ice makes
Andresen—you remember him, Arnie?” Klein considered, then shook his head no. “Tiny Anders, he must be well over six feet tall. He was in the upper form when we were at Krebs’ Skole. The one who fell through the ice on the Sortedamsø.” “I never finished the term. That was when I went to England.” “Of course, the bastard Nazis. But he’ll remember you, and he’ll take my word for the importance of the matter. We’ll have you out of here in an hour, and then a glass of snaps into you and you into
do the job just as well, far better in fact. Professor Rasmussen here, for one. He knows everything about the work.” Ove Rasmussen shook his head. “I would if I could, Arnie. But you are the only one who can say what must be said. In fact I’m the one who suggested that you speak.” Arnie was surprised at this, and his eyes almost accused Ove of betrayal. But he said nothing about it. He turned instead to the efficient young man from the Ministry of State who had come to the Moon to arrange all
the government that financed it and elected politicians who decided to drop it. And the people at large seemed to have approved of the decision. Scientists don’t make war-it is people who do. If you try and blame the scientists for the condition of the world, you are just using them as scapegoats. It is far easier to blame another person than to admit one’s own guilt. Enough South Africans must enjoy being legal slave owners or their government would not stay in power. Remember what Machiavelli
would never return to her. It was time to leave. As she turned to go she noticed the framed picture of her on the little desk. Small, in color, in a bathing suit, laughing during some happier time. For some reason she did not want to look at it. It was here because he had loved her, she knew that. She should always have known that. Despite everything. Martha started to put the picture into her purse, but she did not really want it. She opened the top drawer of the dresser and poked it down under