The Paradox Men

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First edition (publ. Ace Books)
Cover art by Richard M. Powers

The Paradox Men is a science fiction novel by Charles L. Harness, his most famous single novel and his first. Initially published as a novella, Flight into Yesterday, in the May 1949 issue of Startling Stories, it was republished as The Paradox Men in 1953.[1][2] The "science-fiction classic"[3] is both "a tale dominated by space-opera extravagances" and "a severely articulate narrative analysis of the implications of Arnold J. Toynbee's A Study of History."[1] Boucher and McComas described it as "fine swashbuckling adventure ... so infinitely intricate that you may never quite understand what it's about."[4] P. Schuyler Miller described it as "action-entertainment, fast-paced enough that you don't stop to bother with inconsistencies or improbabilities."[5]

In his introduction in the 1967 Four Square paperback reprint of the novel, Brian Aldiss terms it a major example of the "Widescreen Baroque" style in science fiction, and John Clute terms it "the kind of tale which transforms traditional space opera into an arena where a vast array of characters can act their hearts out, where anything can be said with a wink or dead seriously, and any kind of story be told."[1] In Trillion Year Spree, Aldiss and Wingrove report the novel "plays high, wide, and handsome with space and time, buzzes around the solar system like a demented hornet, [and] is witty, profound, and trivial all in one breath."[6] The Paradox Men features the concept of personal force fields which protect people against high-velocity weapons like guns but not against knives or swords, an idea later used in Frank Herbert's Dune (1965).[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Clute, John. "Unorthodox science-fiction writer." (Charles L. Harness obituary) The Independent, October 11, 2005.
  2. ^ "I Did it For the Money." (Charles L. Harness inverview) Locus, December 1998.
  3. ^ Flight into Yesterday (1953) by Charles Harness - FantasticFiction.co.uk
  4. ^ "Recommended Reading," F&SF, September 1953, p. 101.
  5. ^ "The Reference Library", Astounding Science Fiction, April 1954, p.147
  6. ^ Aldiss & Wingrove, Trillion Year Spree, Victor Gollancz, 1986, p.324
  7. ^ Horton, Rich. The Paradox Men/Dome Around America Ace Double Reviews, 18. Retrieved September 23, 2008.