Sinister Barrier

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Sinister Barrier
Sinister barrier.jpg
Dust-jacket from the first edition
Author Eric Frank Russell
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher The World's Work, Ltd.
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 135 pp
OCLC 81034269

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.

Plot introduction[edit]

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."[1] 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.[2]

Publication history[edit]


  1. ^ "In The Key of Fantasy", New York Times Book Review, November 7, 1948, p.32
  2. ^ "Book Reviews", Astounding Science Fiction, September 1949, p.151-52