In my recent review of Laurence Manning’s The Man Who Awoke, I ran a giveaway for a copy of the book, in which the winner would be determined by who best answered the question “Why is pulp era science fiction and fantasy still relevant today?”
I had intended to respond to the entries to generate some discussion, as well as posting a reminder. Then Murphy stopped by for an extended visit, and none of those things happened before the deadline.
However, we had two good entries. The first was from Anthony Simeone. Here’s an excerpt from his answer:
In genre fiction above all other forms of literature, writers act as living lenses, through which we can see the world in a different way. That is one of the great blessings of the passage of time and death: we get to see the world afresh with each passing year, and through each new person that walks the Earth. Fiction, the written word, are telepathic messages sent forward in time for us to experience and enjoy. Ultimately, they are voices from the void of the past, without which the years behind us would be tragically silent.
The other entry was from Daniel J. Davis. Here’s some of what he had to say.
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The Man Who Awoke
Ballantine (170 pgs, $1.50, 1975)
Back in February, our editor John O’Neill featured Laurence Manning’s The Man Who Awoke in one of his Vintage Treasures posts. I first read the book sometime around the summer (I think it was summer) of 1981 or 1982. I was in high school and had picked up a copy at a local used book store. When I mentioned in the comments that I’d been thinking of rereading it, John graciously offered to let me do a review. I’d like to thank him for the opportunity.
It had been on my mind recently when I read an ARC of Michael J. Sullivan’s Hollow World. Then I attended ConDFW this past February, where the charity book swap had dozens of paperbacks from the late 70s and early 80s in excellent condition. Among the titles I picked up was a first edition of The Man Who Awoke.
The novel was originally serialized in five parts in Hugo Gernsback’s Wonder Stories in 1933. The first part was included in Isaac Asimov’s anthology Before the Golden Age, another book I need to reread. I had enjoyed the first installment, so when I came across the paperback of the whole novel, I snatched it up and dashed home with it, after properly paying for it of course.
The story concerns Norman Winters. He’s a wealthy scientist who develops a method of putting himself to sleep through a process very much like hibernation. I don’t know if this is the first use of what would later come to be called suspended animation, but it had to be one of the earliest. I’ve not read H. G. Wells’s When the Sleeper Wakes, so I don’t know the mechanism Wells used. Manning has his protagonist use this device to search for meaning and happiness in the future.
In the first story, “The Forest People,” Winters places his apparatus in a chamber deep underground, and with the aid of a timer, sleeps for a few millennia, waking in 5000 A.D. When Winters comes out of his chamber, he discovers that the world has reached a state in which humans live in small villages, using trees to supply almost all their needs. Most of the world is covered by forest, and open grasslands are anathema. The time Winters comes from (our present age) is known as the Age of Waste.
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