The Mad Metropolis by Phillip E. High (Ace, 1966) reprinted as “Double Illusion” (Dobson, 1970) While the central premise remains relevant—humanity entrusting itself to an AI but installing a kill switch that sends it crazy—High’s execution is amateurish, adding layer after extraneous, unpolished layer to turn an intriguing short story idea into a flabby novel.
Tag: Philip E. High
Reality Forbidden by Philip E. High (Robert Hale, 1967) A sinister, mind-rattling concept explored by the wrong author. High’s ideas are laid down seemingly as and when they occurred to him, which, even coming from the era of pulp, fails to impress. Eric Frank Russell would have made this a masterpiece.
Fugitive From Time
Fugitive From Time by Philip E. High (Hale, 1978) High’s novels were too often marred by instalove and sparse, wince-inducing female representation. His wellspring of SF ideas, however, cannot help but fire the imagination. Fugitive From Time is a fever dream of implacable alien menace, anti-war imagery and humanity’s metamorphosic coming-of-age.
Invader on my Back
Invader on my Back by Phililp E. High (Hale, 1968) When it came to SF ideas, High supped from the horn of plenty. Yet his prose here is amateurish, his grammar appalling, and his depiction of women beyond cringeworthy (even for the time). An alien invasion narrative in dire need of editing.
Sold – For a Spaceship
Sold – For a Spaceship by Philip E High (Robert Hale, 1973) High deploys his customary optimism in having the remnants of the human race awake from suspended animation to reclaim their much-changed planet. An enjoyable helter-skelter hodgepodge of pulp SF ideas, characters and landscapes, marred by male-female interactions that are early Hollywood cringeworthy.
Butterfly Planet by Philip E. High (Hale, 1971) High’s prose is slapdash, his grammar shaky and his punctuation atrocious. His wealth of SF ideas offers some compensation but these gush forth as if from a newly struck oil well. Only having laid claim does High refine them (in subsequent novels).
The Time Mercenaries
The Time Mercenaries by Philip E. High (Dobson, 1969) The anachronistic juxtaposition promises much—a submarine crew, fighting instincts still intact, is resurrected to defend a future civilisation of genetically ordained pacifists from alien invasion—but the premise is too quickly cast aside; the captain and his men become largely superfluous.
Prodigal Sun by Philip E. High (Compact, 1965) Philip E. High often wrote about corrupt future societies and humankind unleashing its benign hidden powers. In his early books, however, these take a confused, rather nebulous form. Prodigal Sun is an ideas novel with what seems (at best) an extemporised plot.
Come, Hunt an Earthman
Come, Hunt an Earthman by Philip E. High (Hale, 1973) Told in straightforward language, with pulp optimism and unambiguous views on right and wrong, High’s coming-of-age novel (humanity, that is, after first being preserved as game for alien hunters) has both reread value and more ideas crammed in than an Asimov trilogy.