Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Farewell, Earth’s Bliss, a 1966 novel written by D. G. Compton

Farewell, Earth’s Bliss (London, 1966), a novel by
D. G. Compton

At left: Paperback (New York: Ace Books, 1971), #22830, 188 p., 75¢. Cover painting by Karel Thole. Here’s the blurb from the back cover of the book:

"The time is the future; space travel has encompassed Mars, finding it barren, without mineral resources, useful only as a dumping ground for socially unacceptable humanity -- a latter-day convict settlement. A new shipload of deportees lands, and the twenty-four new colonists, male and female alike, have to adjust themselves to the harsh life here, and to the unexpected new social patterns that have developed for defense against the hostile Martian environment. Before long, as the colony is shaken by dangers from within and without, the struggle becomes the most basic of all -- not for comfort, but for survival itself."

Two stanzas of a poem, England in Time of Pestilence by Thomas Nashe (1567-1601), are printed on a page inside the front cover. The first line: “Adieu, farewell earth’s bliss.”

Here's what Robert Markley says in his scholarly study Dying Planet: Mars in Science and the Imagination (2005): “In his underrated classic Farewell Earth’s Bliss (1971) the British novelist D. G. Compton depicts the socio-political and psychological effects of the isolation, loneliness, and suffering that the Martian environment represents. Prisoners from Earth exiled to the arid, nearly lifeless planet find themselves confined in an autocratic penal colony. Jacob, a newcomer, lands on Mars and barely survives a dust storm that rages for thirty-seven days and kills many of his fellow prisoners. When the dust clears, he views a landscape that mirrors his psychological state [...] Compton’s description paradoxically pays homage to and rejects romanticized visions of Mars. The harshness of the environment becomes an apt image of both external forms of repression and internalized mechanisms of self-policing. As with oxygen regulators and heat coils, so it is with human will, imagination, and freedom on this Kafkaesque Mars."

Science fiction author, editor, and publisher Donald A. Wollheim owned a copy of Farewell, Earth’s Bliss, according to the Guide to the Donald A. Wollheim Collection at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

No comments: