Copyright 1963 by
I first read this in 1970 and most recently on the 10th April 2005.
The world is ruled by the neoconservative USA. USA Military
Security defends America's perceived right to self defense. Military
Security patrols the world searching for opposition to the USA. ruthlessly
uprooting and destroying weaponry and conspiracies that may be a potential
risk to the USA. Only China remains largely free from the USA's hegemony.
Now the Mars mission has returned bringing technology developed in conjunction
with the indigenous Martians. Young, principled astronaut Peter Koskinen
carries a marvellous defensive weapon, a force field screen that protects
the wearer against almost all attacks.
Hardly the sort of device of which Military Security would approve.
So now Koskinen is on the run, accompanied by beautiful gangster girl Vivienne
Cordeiro, chased across New York by Chinese agents and by the dreaded
This is a rip-roaring read, a great adventure, and classic Poul Anderson
with enough knock-about action to keep you engrossed while he tells you what
the future will be like, how the policy of pre-emptive military action will
not in fact protect you, and how information, of course, wants to be free.
What, me getting political? No, never, I just throw in some topical phrases
to pad out this review because it's so hard, so hard to write it. I am
distressed and lost for words. Still depressed, even after thirty years,
over the fate of poor Vivienne.
What's it got? aliens, alien technology, politics and hard-bodied, hot babe Vivienne,
standing up for her man, even with her parting line to him:
"But next to Johnny", she said, "I liked you the best".
It gets me every time.
Loaded on the 1st May 2006.