Tuesday, July 27, 2004

BATTLE ON MERCURY, or, Victory is mine!

I win! I win!

The crown jewel in this instance is the 1953 Winston Science Fiction novel Battle on Mercury, written by Erik van Lhin. You might know van Lhin better by the other name he wrote under, Lester del Rey.

Just look at that glorious cover and tell me how anyone with even the slightest thrill of adventure in their soul could resist it? It's got everything you could want: an exotic, alien world; a robot; a couple of guys in space suits; an all-terrain rover; electrical, ball-lightning aliens... Jumpin' jehosaphat--this is the greatest George Pal movie never made! There are even rocket ships in the book that are dead ringers for those elegant spacecraft in the classic Pal flick When Worlds Collide.

I've long thought that this book would make a good movie. It's got a thrilling man-against-nature plot. There are rivers of molten lead. There are rocket ships that crash in spectacular fasion, and deadly solar storms. The only major change would be relocating the setting from Mercury to some hypothetical alien world, because the crux of the plot rests on the 1950s belief that Mercury was tidally locked with the same side facing the sun at all times. Which is a spectacularly cool concept, but one that just isn't valid anymore.

In any event, I've got that sucker now. As soon as the book comes in, I'm getting a print of the cover blown up to poster size and hanging it on my office door. You know, to remind me of from whence I came (I've already got the Star Wars "D" one-sheet, so we're covered on that front!).

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1 comment:

  1. Congratulations. I grew up with those Winston SF novels, though I never read that one. I had FIND THE FEATHERED SERPENT, though, and I'd love to get a copy on eBay. Usually they're much too expensive to tempt me. I love the illustrations on the endpapers. Wonderful stuff.