Posts Tagged ‘alien’

“The Mind Traders” by J Hunter Holly (1966)

A place of crawl­ing spi­ders and poi­so­nous snakes — where night­mares came true.

That was The Black, where men were pun­ished for chal­leng­ing minds more pow­er­ful and their own. The detec­tive from Earth feared The Black more than any tor­ture his own plan­et could con­ceive. But he had to uncov­er the sin­is­ter plot that threat­ened Earth and all its people.

Descrip­tion: On Rig­an, an alien plan­et where the soci­ety is rigid­ly struc­tured accord­ing to the rel­a­tive tele­path­ic pow­er to con­trol oth­ers, some­one is tak­ing advan­tage of that pow­er to kid­nap defense­less humans and pos­si­bly the natives as well. Mor­gan Sell­ers, an inves­ti­ga­tor from Earth, is matched with Jael Forty, a native inves­ti­ga­tor with lit­tle expe­ri­ence in this sit­u­a­tion as crime on that world of this type is very scarce. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the class­es is severe­ly lim­it­ed, adding to the dif­fi­cul­ty. To obvi­ate that, the human inves­ti­ga­tor is dis­guised as a Trav­el­er, a native alien with­out the tele­path­ic pow­er, one that can pass among all of the class­es with­out draw­ing a chal­lenge, pro­tect­ed from tele­path­ic con­trol by the same rigid class structure.

Jael is a 40, mean­ing he is of the class that con­trols 40 tele­path­i­cal­ly infe­ri­or natives, although it is not shown exact­ly how he does that in prac­tice: how­ev­er, dur­ing the sto­ry, he is shown advanc­ing to become a 50, which is also a plot point that will affect the actu­al res­o­lu­tion of the mystery.

Com­men­tary: “The Mind Traders” is a much more mem­o­rable sto­ry than “The Fly­ing Eyes” by the same author. The depic­tions of the rigid class struc­ture sticks in the mind long after the sto­ry is over: the way the dif­fer­ent class­es seg­re­gate at par­ties, the way dress col­or (Trav­el­ers wear red, 40s were green) indi­cates class, the def­er­en­tial way sub­or­di­nate class­es must address high­er class­es, the men­tal bat­tles that deter­mine ris­ing in class­es. It also shows the dif­fi­cul­ties involved in hav­ing and main­tain­ing that social struc­ture, espe­cial­ly when that soci­ety comes into con­flict with anoth­er soci­ety, and the res­o­lu­tion of the plot sug­gests dras­tic changes to the soci­ety as a result.

Rec­om­men­da­tion: Rec­om­mend­ed more for the soci­etal depic­tion than any­thing else. It shows just how a soci­ety com­prised of mind con­trol­ling telepaths can exist, what lim­i­ta­tions came about to pre­serve the soci­ety and the indi­vid­u­als and how it has adapt­ed to main­tain itself. As a mys­tery it is most­ly flat, the major mys­tery being how the soci­ety works, not so much the actu­al crimes involved. It should also be not­ed that while the Rig­ans are capa­ble of tele­path­ic mind con­trol, they are not com­mu­ni­cat­ing telepaths but they are empaths.

Also of inter­est is the method of pun­ish­ment called “The Black”. From the descrip­tions, it appears to be a total iso­la­tion of all out­side stim­uli, a com­plete men­tal cut-off from the out­side world, which allows all of the inter­nal night­mares full reign with­in the con­scious­ness, pos­si­bly fos­tered by the one enforc­ing The Black. It is the main pun­ish­ment for trans­gres­sions on Rig­an oth­er than being Controlled.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly the title leaves some­thing to be decid­ed, as it just isn’t as descrip­tive as “The Fly­ing Eyes”: some­thing like “The Mind Mas­ters” or “The Mind Rob­bers” would have much more descriptive.

“The Flying Eyes” by J Hunter Holly (1963)

Linc Hosler was sit­ting in a packed foot­ball sta­di­um when the Fly­ing Eyes appeared and cast their hyp­not­ic pow­er over half the crowd. Thou­sands of peo­ple sud­den­ly began march­ing zom­bie-like into the woods where they van­ished into a black pit.

Linc used every resource of the Space Research Lab and the Nation­al Guard to destroy the Eyes. But noth­ing could stop them, for they proved immune to bul­lets and bombs.

In des­per­a­tion, Linc cap­tured an Eye and found a way to com­mu­ni­cate with it through his mind. He learned that radi­a­tion was fuel for the crea­tures’ lives. And then they issued their ter­ri­ble ulti­ma­tum. Explode a series of atom bombs to sup­ply them with radi­a­tion or they would turn the world’s pop­u­la­tion into mind­less robots!

It gave the world two har­row­ing choic­es — self-destruc­tion via fall­out from the bombs or anni­hi­la­tion via the sin­is­ter Fly­ing Eyes!

Quite a ter­ri­fy­ing dilem­ma: phys­i­cal death by fall­out or men­tal death by alien men­tal dom­i­na­tion. If only the Fly­ing Eyes pos­sessed some weak­ness that human sci­ence could exploit. But no phys­i­cal attacks seemed to hurt them. The alien Fly­ing Eyes, or Zines as they called them­selves, were not lim­it­ed to just man­i­fest­ing eyes as they can also man­i­fest limbs which appar­ent­ly could pass through sol­id walls.

But their immu­ni­ty to bombs and bul­lets, plus their abil­i­ty to pass through sol­id objects and their need for radi­a­tion also explains their weak­ness: they are not tru­ly mat­ter as we know it, but most­ly of ener­gy. And as crea­tures of most­ly ener­gy, they require raw ener­gy to sur­vive. Such would allow them to trav­el across space but they had to be wary when enter­ing the grav­i­ty field of a plan­et, because, as per Ein­stein, ener­gy can be affect­ed by grav­i­ty. By the use of a project to con­trol grav­i­ty, the Fly­ing Eyes are sub­ject­ed to a field of increased grav­i­ty that caus­es the struc­tured ener­gy that com­pris­es their forms to degrade, essen­tial­ly killing them.

Com­men­tary: Author J (Joan) Hunter Hol­ly wrote a num­ber of short nov­els start­ing in the very late 1950’s through the mid­dle 1970’s, includ­ing anoth­er, “The Mind Traders”, which is also in the Col­lec­tion. This isn’t a very mem­o­rable work, bet­ter remem­bered for the fan­tas­ti­cal image of float­ing alien eyes con­trol­ling thou­sands of peo­ple at once than any­thing else. She also wrote one “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” nov­el, #10, “The Assas­si­na­tion Affair”, as did a num­ber of oth­er mid-list SF authors of the period.

‘Looking for Something’ by Frank Herbert

Aliens that only one per­son can see, as the rest of human­i­ty is under a hyp­not­ic illu­sion of nor­mal­cy. Aliens with hyp­not­ic pow­ers. Aliens who see human­i­ty as only a food source.

Its a com­mon enough sto­ry line. ”Look­ing for Some­thing’ by Frank Her­bert is a short sto­ry of stage hyp­no­tist who dis­cov­ers that he shares an unusu­al vision with one of his sub­jects and inves­ti­gates it.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing “‘Look­ing for Some­thing’ by Frank Herbert”

“They Live” … again?

Accord­ing to an inter­view in Salon, “Row­dy” Rod­die Piper has been approached by pro­duc­ers seek­ing to make a remake of “They Live”.

There’s been talk about a remake of “They Live.” Have the poten­tial pro­duc­ers been in touch with you?

Yep. We’re going to have lunch after this trip to Denver.

“They Live” worked so well because of the under­ly­ing satir­i­cal polit­i­cal mes­sage: one won­ders if the same mes­sage would be repeated?

‘The Psychobombs’ — “UFO”

Cap­sule Descrip­tion: A secret orga­ni­za­tion, ded­i­cat­ed to pro­tect­ing Earth against an alien foe, is tar­get­ed by the aliens by trans­form­ing ordi­nary peo­ple into “psy­cho-bombs”.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing “‘The Psy­chobombs’ — “UFO””

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