Monday, April 18, 2005

"The Great Explosion"

I just finished re-reading for the umpteenth time Eric Frank Russell's classic 1951 short story "And Then There Were None," first published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1951 and later incorporated into Russell's 1962 novel The Great Explosion. I don't think anyone's written a more whimsical and skillful skewering of posturing bureaucrats and stodgy militarists than Russell. After more than 50 years, both this story and the novel are still amazingly contemporary, and very anti-statist (downright anarchist, in fact).

The story, briefly: Within 100 years of the discovery of "Bliederdrive," which shatters the speed-of-light barrier to space travel, half of humanity has escaped Terran soil to build self-reliant and diverse civilizations on hundreds of planets. Eventually, the arrogant Terran state decides to re-establish its authority and launches several battle cruisers to "persuade" those colonists to join the Terran Empire. The results are hilarious.

"And Then There Were None" is the final half of The Great Explosion. If you can find a copy of the short story in an anthology, read it. The novel's out of print right now, but you can find it online (hooray!) as a free download.


At 7:22 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Yeah, T.G.E. is one of those works that just works on all levels.

It's anarchist, but not in a strident or wonky way, it's funny without being comedic, it's a page turner with a twist, but with something real to say.

I'm glad that there are other people that know about it.


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