Simple Linear plot with espionage and predictability (3/5)
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).
Rear cover synopsis:
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.
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.
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. Harrison doesn't even
make the list for my top 20 science fiction authors, but he's still one