Shh…

Perhaps I’m just resting on my share of the laurels, having received word that UNP’s new science fiction catalogue received praise from one of the most respected science fiction authors and editors out there. (Not risking my neck too much here, unless Harlan Ellison takes revenge on less-than-discrete bloggers.)

Thrilled by my near brush with greatness, I now return to encouraging others to check out our titles. We’ve begun to brush up this website just for you web-wandering readers, with artwork and descriptions of each series’ particular purpose. The browsing the book pages takes a little more dedication, but we promise, we’re on it.

Now, unlike Leigh Anna, my hands are far from “hot” or “little.” I’ve had in my “paws” a variety of UNP’s science fiction backlist and the chance to select excerpts for the website as well. The trick, I found, was mostly to take the first ten pages, but nevertheless, I hope something there catches your eye.

While hurrying through a two foot stack of books, the writing and premise of The Moon Maid caught my attention. Then, my attention fixed on the author: Edgar Rice Burroughs of Tarzan fame. What? Tarzan’s creator writing science fiction about space travel? Yes. Though I’m sure they’ll get to a mysterious tropical jungle eventually, this begins as a hard boiled account of space exploration.

Moon_maid
Reading the excerpt again, I feel an odd appreciation for Burrough’s novel. This book is undeniably dated. The explorers only just graze the orbit of the moon in this early scene. However, the narrator expresses the same curiousity many of us now feel for far more distant planets. Is there life out there, and what “thrill” would it be to finally find the evidence?

Within minutes of reaching the Moon, the explorers in The Moon Maid observe strange, ephemeral life forms adapted to the harsh environment of the moon, perhaps inspired by the suddenly flourishing green of a desert drenched by an all too-rare storm. The attempt, however, is made to bring fiction out of fact, making “hard” science fiction at a time before too many hard facts.

If the narrator was not distracted from his careful analysis of the Moon’s surface geography by a verbal attack from a drunken, ego-impaired crewman and fellow scientist, this story might have remained speculation in fact as well as fiction. However, said drunken crewman had finally had enough of brooding on the journey, which I assume is why StarTrek included the premise that real alcohol was no longer permitted onboard, and sabotaged the ship. Advanced technology aside, no one in the StarTrek universe thought to invent an instant soberizer, just molecular reorganizers capable of making a decent cup of tea. But I digress.

Single-handedly, this madman has doomed the crew to confront whatever life and dangers the Moon holds—if they survive the crash.

That brings the excerpt to an end. I can’t help but find myself disappointed that it’s over so quickly, though I chose that cliffhanger myself. Next time, perhaps I’ll tell you what more I could have included. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, I won’t need to as you can order your own copy and tell me how completely wrong I’ve been.

I hope to see how well Edgar Rice Burroughs of Tarzan fame balanced the “hard” and “soft” aspects of this novel. The frequent use of the word “thrill” aside, the writing seems reasonably timeless, and this first plot twist based on the “soft science” of psychology gives me hope of characters with notable depth and complexity. Even Lord Greystoke progressed beyond the legendary, “Me Tarzan, you Jane.”