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The House in November

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117 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1970

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About the author

Keith Laumer

377 books192 followers
John Keith Laumer was an American science fiction author. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, he was an officer in the U.S. Air Force and a U.S. diplomat. His brother March Laumer was also a writer, known for his adult reinterpretations of the Land of Oz (also mentioned in Keith's The Other Side of Time).

Keith Laumer (aka J.K Laumer, J. Keith Laumer) is best known for his Bolo stories and his satirical Retief series. The former chronicles the evolution of juggernaut-sized tanks that eventually become self-aware through the constant improvement resulting from centuries of intermittent warfare against various alien races. The latter deals with the adventures of a cynical spacefaring diplomat who constantly has to overcome the red-tape-infused failures of people with names like Ambassador Grossblunder. The Retief stories were greatly influenced by Laumer's earlier career in the United States Foreign Service. In an interview with Paul Walker of Luna Monthly, Laumer states "I had no shortage of iniquitous memories of the Foreign Service."

Four of his shorter works received Hugo or Nebula Award nominations (one of them, "In the Queue", received nominations for both) and his novel A Plague of Demons was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1966.

During the peak years of 1959–1971, Laumer was a prolific science fiction writer, with his novels tending to follow one of two patterns: fast-paced, straight adventures in time and space, with an emphasis on lone-wolf, latent superman protagonists, self-sacrifice and transcendence or, broad comedies, sometimes of the over-the-top variety.

In 1971, Laumer suffered a stroke while working on the novel The Ultimax Man. As a result, he was unable to write for a few years. As he explained in an interview with Charles Platt published in The Dream Makers (1987), he refused to accept the doctors' diagnosis. He came up with an alternative explanation and developed an alternative (and very painful) treatment program. Although he was unable to write in the early 1970s, he had a number of books which were in the pipeline at the time of the stroke published during that time.

In the mid-1970s, Laumer partially recovered from the stroke and resumed writing. However, the quality of his work suffered and his career declined (Piers Anthony, How Precious Was That While, 2002). In later years Laumer also reused scenarios and characters from his earlier works to create "new" books, which some critics felt was to their detriment:

Alas, Retief to the Rescue doesn't seem so much like a new Retief novel, but a kind of Cuisnart mélange of past books.

-- Somtow Sucharitkul (Washington Post, Mar 27, 1983. p. BW11)

His Bolo creations were popular enough that other authors have written standalone science-fiction novels about them.

Laumer was also a model airplane enthusiast, and published two dozen designs between 1956 and 1962 in the U.S. magazines Air Trails, Model Airplane News and Flying Models, as well as the British magazine Aero Modeler. He published one book on the subject, How to Design and Build Flying Models in 1960. His later designs were mostly gas-powered free flight planes, and had a whimsical charm with names to match, like the "Twin Lizzie" and the "Lulla-Bi". His designs are still being revisited, reinvented and built today.

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Profile Image for Tentatively, Convenience.
Author 16 books191 followers
April 1, 2015
review of
Keith Laumer's The House in November
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - March 31, 2015

I wrote a review of a Laumer bk yesterday ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7... ). That was about all I got done yesterday. Not a good day. Today's not much better, the only slightly substantial thing I've done today is take apart an accordion, now I know a little more about accordions, maybe I'll take my last few dollars & buy some carpenter's glue so I can try to fix it. Who cares, right? Get to the fucking bk review, right?!

This is another hack work by a hack writer who had some 'success' a few yrs before this bk came out w/ his Invaders wch was made into a tv series. I reckon he was trying to milk the last pennies out of the-things-from-outer-space-that-imitate-humans-who're-gonna-kill-us-all type story b/c that's what this is.

"There was a sharp thwack! of the mechanism, the stiff jolt of the recoil. Six inches of bright steel stood quivering against the bright-patterned chest. Mallory realized quite suddenly that the "shirt" was not a garment; it was part of the not-man's body, molded with it. . . ." - p 34

Mallory's trying to figure out what's going on, he's got amnesia, has the army fought the invaders?

"A hundred yards from his starting point, a burned out tank rested on its side in the ditch. So the army had fought—and lost. He plodded on, head down against the chill wind, headed north into the dark countryside." - p 36

It's ambiguous, there're a multiplicity of interpretations:

""There's been a war," the elderly man said cooly. "A short war—one which the United States failed to win. The country has been invaded. We're under occupation by Soviet troops."" - p 40

Is it the Russians? The Chinese? Devils? Aliens? Disease?

""Satan's clever," Brother Jack said. "Oh, I underestimated him. I'll confess to you that for years I was skeptical in my heart. I spoke the word of God, but in my private thoughts I was an unbeliever. That's why He loosed Satan on the world, you see, I admit it. I'm the guilty one!"" - p 75

""No . . . invade is not the correct word," the old man said. "Your planet is not occupied; it's infected. They're not invaders; they're a disease."" - p 94

The bk's 'dated' in a way that caught me off-guard:

""Then one day I caught a faint echo from deep space. I monitored it, watched it grow until there was no longer any doubt: A Mone space pod was approaching, had in fact passed the orbit of Pluto, and was falling sunward with gradually increasing velocity. In short, the day long-dreaded was approaching. the Mone was here.["]" - p 98

This casual mention of Pluto was made during the time Pluto was considered to be a planet. I imagine that any references to it these days wd be subtly different. This gives me an excuse to quote at length from NASA's website:

"Discovered in 1930, Pluto was long considered our solar system's ninth planet. But after the discovery of similar intriguing worlds deeper in the distant Kuiper Belt, icy Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet. This new class of worlds may offer some of the best evidence about the origins of our solar system.

10 Need-to-Know Things About Pluto:

1. If the sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be the size of a nickel and dwarf planet Pluto would be about the size of the head of a pin.
2. Pluto orbits our sun, a star, at an average distance of 3.7 billion miles (5.9 billion kilometers) or 39.5 AU.
3. One day on Pluto takes about 153 hours. That's the time it takes for Pluto to rotate or spin once. Pluto makes a complete orbit around the sun (a year in Plutonian time) in about 248 Earth years.
4. It is thought that Pluto has a rocky core surrounded by a mantle of water ice with other ices coating its surface.
5. Pluto has five known moons. Pluto is sometimes called a double-planet system due to the fact that its moon Charon is quite large and orbits close to its parent planet.
6. There are no known rings around Pluto.
7. Pluto has a thin, tenuous atmosphere that expands when it comes closer to the sun and collapses as it moves farther away -- similar to a comet.
8. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is the first mission sent to encounter the Pluto-system and other members of the Kuiper Belt.
9. Scientists do not think Pluto can support life as we know it. Although, some scientists believe it is possible Pluto could possess a hidden ocean under its surface.
10. Pluto was considered a planet from 1930, when it was first discovered, until 2006. The discovery of similar-sized worlds deeper in the distant Kuiper Belt sparked a debate which resulted in a new official definition of a planet. The new definition did not include Pluto." - https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/...

Wasn't that fun? That little bit of quoting from NASA is the only thing that even makes this shitty little review worth writing. Imagine if I were writing this review under the conditions described in the next The House in November quote:

""But—Jeff Mallory—there is no human race to save. Surely you know! The first act of the Mone pod on picking a breeding site is to broadcast a killing gas which wipes the planet clean of organic life except in the protected area of the nest. The people of your city of Beatrice live—as mindless slaves of the Mone. All the rest, Jeff Mallory, are dead!"" - p 111

Some people are such downers, always looking on the negative side. But when the chips are down, there's nothing like a little mind-melding to save the day:

"Awareness of a woman's self-picture flooded into his mind; all the memories and complexities of a full human existence were comprehended in a single polyordinal gestalt. For a fractional instant he sensed her startlement at the strange touch invading her identity, the beginning of a flash of atavistic fear; then he had shunted aside her feeble ego-assertion reflex, adding the computational and conceptualizing circuitry of her mind to the Mallory/Strang duality." - p 146

Whatever. I'm being cynical here but Laumer's bk is better than my review of it so I deserve more criticism than he does. I enjoyed it, it served its purpose for today, escapism n'at.
Profile Image for Jason Thompson.
76 reviews14 followers
July 15, 2015
A deservedly forgotten short alien invasion novella. The book begins in Twilight Zone mode, with the narrator waking up to find his family and neighbors transformed into brainwashed zombies serving alien invaders. After escaping the town, the hero roams the nearby countryside where he runs into a variety of totally unhelpful people (religious fanatics, inept soldiers, rednecks) ineptly dealing with the alien invasion; luckily there's our badass Gary Stu protagonist, who in a shocking plot twist, discovers . The 'alien entity spread as a disease from spores' plot is undeveloped and not as interesting as it sounds, the plot is full of holes , and the whole thing resolves sort of like a really bad Doctor Who episode plus a skeevy romance (between the middle-aged hero and his teenage daughter's friend (!!?!? :P ). The best thing about it is the title, but the original serialization title "The Seeds of Gonyl" better expresses the story's inane pulpy tone.
Profile Image for Roybot.
405 reviews8 followers
February 15, 2018
This started off promising enough: guy wakes up in his house, but everything is just a little off. His clothes are shabbier, his hands are calloused and dirty when they shouldn't be, his face looks thinner and more haggard, and he clearly hasn't had a shave or haircut in some time. He gets downstairs and his wife and children are acting strange. They think he has a different job than he should, and, worst of all, none of them seem to remember that he has a teenage daughter. Even the door to her room is gone. Is he mad? Has something happened?

Unfortunately, it rapidly goes downhill from there. We're introduced to a number of oddball characters and situations, but none of it really means much. The final act involves a lot of hand waving and some pretty silly plot twists, and the resolution is pretty unsatisfying (and slightly gross... there are some plot contrivances that set up a romantic relationship between the protagonist and his daughter's friend, which is weird, gross, and unnecessary).

A lot of it ends up feeling like a bad Twilight Zone episode.
Profile Image for Jedediah Smith.
Author 6 books1 follower
May 27, 2022
The story begins with a scenario of weirdness that we have come to recognize as a Twilight Zone set-up: a man wakes up and everything has changed but no one will acknowledge it, first with his family, then his neighborhood, his hometown, and finally the world. The changes escalate as does his confusion. Eventually he meets others who have noticed the change as well but each has his own explanation and says our protagonist has lost his faculties. At this point the novel could embrace this ambiguity -- everyone has their own version of reality and who's to say which one is "real"? Instead, the protagonist finds establishes the truth (though with some more twists along the way). Then the novel falls into a standard Laumer motif: " lone-wolf, latent superhuman protagonists, self-sacrifice, and transcendence" (wiki). This gives the novel a mishmash feel, first one genre, then another. It's not entirely unsatisfying but in the transition, many questions are left unanswered. Overall a nice diversion but little more.
Profile Image for Jenniffer.
112 reviews
August 12, 2011
Didn't like it at all. About aliens that come down and capture a town in the US and brainwashes everyone in the town to work for them. The US thinks they are being invaded by the Chinese. Amidst it all one man is some "Galaxy Protector", yet has been living among the humans in the conquered town. Just did not like the book at all.
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