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Father of Lies / Mirror Image

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A novella each by John Brunner and Bruce Duncan.

176 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1968

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About the author

John Brunner

510 books394 followers
John Brunner was born in Preston Crowmarsh, near Wallingford in Oxfordshire, and went to school at St Andrew's Prep School, Pangbourne, then to Cheltenham College. He wrote his first novel, Galactic Storm, at 17, and published it under the pen-name Gill Hunt, but he did not start writing full-time until 1958. He served as an officer in the Royal Air Force from 1953 to 1955, and married Marjorie Rosamond Sauer on 12 July 1958

At the beginning of his writing career Brunner wrote conventional space opera pulp science fiction. Brunner later began to experiment with the novel form. His 1968 novel "Stand on Zanzibar" exploits the fragmented organizational style John Dos Passos invented for his USA trilogy, but updates it in terms of the theory of media popularised by Marshall McLuhan.

"The Jagged Orbit" (1969) is set in a United States dominated by weapons proliferation and interracial violence, and has 100 numbered chapters varying in length from a single syllable to several pages in length. "The Sheep Look Up" (1972) depicts ecological catastrophe in America. Brunner is credited with coining the term "worm" and predicting the emergence of computer viruses in his 1975 novel "The Shockwave Rider", in which he used the term to describe software which reproduces itself across a computer network. Together with "Stand on Zanzibar", these novels have been called the "Club of Rome Quartet", named after the Club of Rome whose 1972 report The Limits to Growth warned of the dire effects of overpopulation.

Brunner's pen names include K. H. Brunner, Gill Hunt, John Loxmith, Trevor Staines, Ellis Quick, Henry Crosstrees Jr., and Keith Woodcott.
In addition to his fiction, Brunner wrote poetry and many unpaid articles in a variety of publications, particularly fanzines, but also 13 letters to the New Scientist and an article about the educational relevance of science fiction in Physics Education. Brunner was an active member of the organisation Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and wrote the words to "The H-Bomb's Thunder", which was sung on the Aldermaston Marches.

Brunner had an uneasy relationship with British new wave writers, who often considered him too American in his settings and themes. He attempted to shift to a more mainstream readership in the early 1980s, without success. Before his death, most of his books had fallen out of print. Brunner accused publishers of a conspiracy against him, although he was difficult to deal with (his wife had handled his publishing relations before she died).[2]

Brunner's health began to decline in the 1980s and worsened with the death of his wife in 1986. He remarried, to Li Yi Tan, on 27 September 1991. He died of a heart attack in Glasgow on 25 August 1995, while attending the World Science Fiction Convention there

K H Brunner, Henry Crosstrees Jr, Gill Hunt (with Dennis Hughes and E C Tubb), John Loxmith, Trevor Staines, Keith Woodcott

Winner of the ESFS Awards in 1980 as "Best Author" and 1n 1984 as "Novelist"..

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Profile Image for Skjam!.
1,386 reviews26 followers
February 21, 2016
Belmont Books was a minor publisher of paperback books with a specialty in speculative fiction, which lasted from 1960 to 1971. Apparently in an effort to mimic the success of Ace Doubles, they produced a series of “Belmont Doubles” that tucked two novellas into one book, but without the reversed printing that made Ace’s books distinctive. This particular volume was printed in 1968. While the two stories have little in common, the cover blurb does a good job of linking them.

“Father of Lies” is by John Brunner (Stand on Zanzibar) and features a group of seven amateur parapsychologists. After a failed attempt to find a “Nessie” type creature in another loch, one of them interests the others in investigating a circle of land in England that seems to have dropped off the memory of everyone outside it, to the point that the maps don’t match what can be observed of the territory.

The team learns that after a certain point into “the Blank Space” modern technology doesn’t work. The people inside seem to be in a medieval social stasis, and one of the team who happens to have studied older forms of English is told by the locals that there’s an ogre about. When another of the group, Miles, enters from a different direction, he learns that there’s also a dragon. He also sees modern tire treads heading into the territory and decides to investigate–then vanishes!

There’s some fascinating Arthurian stuff going on, and a couple of exciting scenes involving the ogre and dragon. Plus, Miles meets a naked modern woman named Vivien who’s about to become a human sacrifice. The tension is high in places. The title does come into play, but not as you would normally expect it to.

The characterization is kind of lacking; two of the seven parapsychology team never show up in person or have lines, and most of the rest get one personality trait each. Miles and Vivien aren’t much better off, getting “bookish fellow who finds his inner hero” and “modern independent woman with no identifiable skill set but is very brave.” The villain is also kind of shallow, childishly evil.

The ending is kind of abrupt, with the reveal of what’s been going on in a rushed infodump after an important character dies.

“Mirror Image” is by Bruce Duncan, which turns out to be a pen name for Irving A. Greenfield (Only the Dead Speak Russian). Go-go dancer Trudy Lane drops dead in the street, but when she’s autopsied an hour later, the doctor finds that she’s been dead over seventy-two hours. New York police detective Luis Santiago is saddled with this bizarre case, which only gets weirder when another Trudy Lane body shows up cut in half and stuffed in trash cans.

Meanwhile, America’s most advanced nuclear submarine, the Triton, sails out on a secret mission. There’s some concern about Petty Officer Second Class Warren Hall, who got a “Dear John” letter just before going on shore leave. He disappeared for several hours during the night, but they do know he was seen with a go-go dancer named…Trudy Lane. Hall admits that he spent time with her, but lies about another man he was seen with at the Mermaid Club. Odd.

The reader is not left in suspense long. (Imagine that meme with the guy from the History Channel saying “ALIENS”.) Yes, aliens are invading the Earth and replacing certain people with robots under their command.

The best parts of the story are the bits from the perspective of the Hall robot, which has the parts of Hall’s memories the aliens considered essential, but doesn’t really grok human behavior. It’s not quite to the level of “Hello, fellow humans.” but Hall keeps doing or saying things that set off people’s uncanny valley instincts.

The aliens appear to have some form of mind-control ability as well, but this is inconsistently portrayed. The lead alien’s exposition is deadpan enough that it’s almost funny.

It’s a decent enough story, but again the characterization is lacking, and thus the parts that should be thrilling as the submarine is taken over fall flat.

Mostly I recommend this for the John Brunner completist as the previous published version of “Father of Lies” in Science Fantasy #52 (April 1962) will be even harder to find.
Profile Image for Tentatively, Convenience.
Author 15 books194 followers
October 17, 2013
review of
John Brunner's Father of Lies & Bruce Duncan's Mirror Image
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - October 14, 2013

This is the 17th bk I've read by Brunner unless you count Ace Doubles as 2 bks in wch case it's the 19th. The cover proclaims: "Two complete science fiction novels" but, no, they're both novellas. Nonetheless, they both have reasonably well developed plots so I'll let the novel/la distinction slide.

I've long since concluded that Brunner, even at his most genre generic crankin'-em-out, is a great SF writer who never lets me down. "Father of Lies" usually refers to the 'devil' & I wonder if that title was imposed on Brunner by the publisher.

The story's interesting enuf: a group of independent paranormal investigators discover that there's a mysterious area that seems to exist in a different sort of time zone from its surrounding areas: "And to cap everything else, there are errors on the Ordnance Survey map of the area. A roughly circular area of about a hundred and twenty square miles is not as it's shown on the map." (p 43) The group manages to penetrate the area & find myths like dragons & ogres alive & well.

I really have nothing to say about this that wdn't just give away too much. There's not much to this but it's Brunner so I was entertained. The 2nd novella, by an author I'm not familiar w/, was even more generic. Bruce Duncan's Mirror Image starts off w/: "The Mermaid Club was a honky-tonk joint with a loud rock and roll group called the Apes trying to cover their lack of talent by making a great deal of noise." (p 87) Ha! I wonder if that's how the author feels about all rock & roll or if he's just trying to set the mood in a particular way. Either way, I can relate: volume often covers up lack of playing ability.

Aliens from outer space invade earth w/ the intention of sucking it dry of resources. They duplicate humans in order to infiltrate.

""Who are you?"

""Zoltons," Garth said.

""You're joking!"

""We come from a planet not yet known to your scientists."

""For what reason?"

""To extend our rule into your solar system.["]" - p 101

It's not all as 'bad' as the above quote, I admit that I picked that as the most generic example. If this was an early work by Duncan I can imagine that he might've gone on to better things. Dunno, As it was, it was well enuf plotted n'at. In the end I didn't care much, none of the ideas were surprising enuf to do much for me.

If you're just starting to read SF & you're looking for great literature or startling ideas don't start w/ this one. If you're just looking for something to distract you from the utter boredom & despair of yr life this might suffice for a day.
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