Sunday, January 4, 2009

Confessions of an SF addict: The Red Planet by Russ Winterbotham

The Red Planet: a Science Fiction Novel, by Russ Winterbotham (1962)

At left: Paperback original (Derby, Conn.: Monarch Books, 1962), #270, 35¢. Cover painting by Ralph Brillhart. Here’s a description of the book, taken from the back cover:

“When the spaceship Jehad blasted off for Mars, millions of miles from Earth, four men and one woman placed themselves under the rule of Dr. Lewis Spartan, sadistic, power-mad leader of the expedition. Only when they were well on their way did they learn that Spartan planned to return to Earth alone! By the time the ship reached Mars, jealous rivalry over the love of Gail Loring had turned the Jehad into a crucible of tension and strife. But their internal struggles were nothing compared to the threat of the grotesque Martians who used electrical energy as a weapon of war. Suddenly, the Earthmen had to unite to stave off a massed Martian attack -- a fight which, if lost, meant isolation and death on Mars and, if won, meant bucking Spartan's demonic schemes.”

According to a piece from inside the novel’s front cover, “The author’s son-in-law is a member of the team developing the plasma space motor which is planned to carry men to Mars within the next 10 years.”

For a moving reflection and affectionate review of The Red Planet, read “Confessions of an SF Addict,” by R. Graeme Cameron, which appeared in Issue #2 (March 1995) and Issue #3 (June 1995) of his fanzine The Space Cadet Gazette. The Red Planet was the first pocketbook Cameron ever purchased, back in 1962. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Cameron!

Coincidently, William J. Locke's The Red Planet (1917), a best-selling war novel which seems to have nothing to do with science fiction, has a character named Mr. Winterbotham. Small universe.

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