Dust-jacket from the first edition
|Author||Eric Frank Russell|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||The World's Work, Ltd.|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
Sinister Barrier is an English language science fiction novel by author Eric Frank Russell. The novel originally appeared in the magazine Unknown in 1939, the first novel to appear in its pages. It was first published in book form in 1943 by The World's Work, Ltd. Russell revised and expanded the book for its first US publication by Fantasy Press in 1948. Most subsequent editions were based on the Fantasy Press version.
The novel concerns a future where the human race is owned and operated by the invisible Vitons, parasites that feed on human pain and anguish. While the novel is set at some time in the near future, the Vitons are portrayed as having been humankind's "owners" for a long, long while.
The Vitons are only visible when humans come into contact with a certain combination of chemicals. After several people use the combination of chemicals painted on the skin and die the person investigating the suspicious deaths is puzzled by the victims apparently insane actions.
Fletcher Pratt, writing in The New York Times, found Sinister Barrier to be a standard adventure story with a scientific background, which moves too fast to let anyone look too closely at parts of the structure." Astounding reviewer P. Schuyler Miller praised the novel as "a fast-moving adventure in which punch follows punch from beginning to end." Miller reported that Russell had made more effective use of the ideas of Charles Fort than almost any other author.
- 1939, USA, Unknown, Pub date March 1939
- 1943. UK, The World's Work, Pub date 1943, Hardback
- 1948, USA, Fantasy Press, Pub date 1948, Hardback, revised and expanded, 3,084 copies
- 1950, USA, Galaxy SF Novel, Pub date 1950, Paperback, abridged
- 1952, UK, Kemsley, Pub date 1950, paperback
- 1952, France, Le Rayon Fantastique, Pub date 1952, Hardback, as Guerre aux invisibles
- 1953, Italy, Romanzi di Urania, Pub date 1953, Hardback, as Schiavi degli invisibili
- 1953, Germany, Utopia-Kriminal, Pub date 1953, Hardback, as Die Todeschranke
- 1964, USA, Paperback Library, Pub date 1964, Paperback
- 1967, UK, Dobson, Pub date 1967, Hardback
- 1986, USA, Del Rey Books ISBN 0-345-32760-8, Pub date January 1986, Paperback
- 1986, UK, Methuen Publishing ISBN 0-413-58870-X, Pub date February 1986, Paperback
- Brown, Charles N.; William G. Contento. "The Locus Index to Science Fiction (1984-1998)". Retrieved 2008-03-13.
- Chalker, Jack L.; Mark Owings (1998). The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Bibliographic History, 1923-1998. Westminster, MD and Baltimore: Mirage Press, Ltd. p. 236.
- Clute, John; Peter Nicholls (1995). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 1036. ISBN 0-312-13486-X.
- Tuck, Donald H. (1978). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. p. 374. ISBN 0-911682-22-8.