Star Of Ill Omen

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Stevie P
Posts: 194
Joined: Wed 14 Sep, 2005 08:31:56
Location: Rugby

Star Of Ill Omen

Post by Stevie P »

Kempton Lincoln (Kem) is a 28 year old Englishman who is waiting in the desolate plains of Argentina for a car to appear. He is a member of the Secret service and is on a mission to hold up a man who has the secret of a new, quick and inexpensive method of producing atom bombs.
The man he is waiting for is Estevan Escobar, a 57 year old man who is a friend of General Peron and is currently in charge of the atomic experimental station based near Basavilbaso.
When the car arrives he manages to persuade Escobar and his driver to take a minor detour. Kem then proceeds to tie them up, steal the car, and get back to Escobars' house in order to obtain the 'bomb details' before getting back to England.
Kem is welcomed at the house as he has already met the family on a previous trip to Lisbon. He was 'very' well acquainted with Carmen – Escobars’ 24 year old wife. During dinner, discussions revolve around the recent sightings of unidentified flying crafts nearby.
As night-time starts to fall, Kem feigns illness in order to get to bed earlier than the rest - he then takes the documents from the safe prior to Carmen joining him in the bedroom and 'matters' begin to take their course just as her husband enters the bedroom. A fight breaks out. At this point the aliens enter the room!!
The 20 foot high naked creatures manhandle them into the Spacecraft and whisk them off into space.
At this point Kem, Carmen and Escobar have no idea where they are being taken and after trying to acclimatise themselves to this unbelievably weird abduction start to speculate on their ultimate destination.
Within the Saucer there were flat opaque floors with a few cube blocks of the same material. One of the blocks had a lid which opened at a touch; but it was empty and its purpose obvious. It contained a large-mouthed fixed funnel leading down to a pipe about a foot wide, at the bottom of which daylight could be seen. It was a lavatory on the same principle installed in railway trains but lacking any form of trap or sluicing apparatus.

There were two aliens lying down on a raised block bed, apparently asleep. After some considerable time Kem decided to wake them as they needed food & water. The food was supplied was a couple of small brown pill’s. Water was provided by sucking from a pipe attached to one of the blocks

After many more weeks they sighted Mars through the lavatory funnel.

Upon landing on the planet they are stripped, decontaminated and put into a small closed room located within the rocks of the Martian landscape.

They are taken to another room to watch live films of ancient events such as, the half built Pyramids, Ancient Carthage and Syracuse, Vesuvius erupting, the Great Plague, the original Crystal Palace and Peenemunde - the experimental long range rocket base where Escobar had worked for the Germans during the War and much more. The reason for showing these films was to prove that the aliens had been around for a long time and had advanced well before the people on Earth; and that they were still watching.

In addition to the 20 foot bi-ped giants there are also a species of large Flying Bee/Beetles on Mars. It becomes obvious that they are the brains on the planet whilst the Giants are the Brawn. It also becomes apparent that communication is possible between the newcomers & the aliens, by telepathy. More detailed explanations required the drawing of pictures.

The Bee/Beetles want the newcomers to build atomic bombs for them. There is some reluctance on behalf of the humans as they are worried about 'where' the bombs would be dropped!! However, they go along with the aliens in order to buy some time. It also transpires that Escobar knows very little about bomb building. The Argentinian government were just trying to convince the rest of the world how much of a power they had become.
After several day’s the group are awoken by another human; Anna Nitkin, a young Russian girl who had been abducted from Earth in the same manner as Kem, Carmen & Escobar. She had arrived with two others; her father, Dr Kruger Harsbach, who had been working on 'Nuclear reactor technology' & Nicholai Zadovitch. The Doktor was a tall, gaunt man in his late fifties. He had a slight disfiguring of the cheek following a bullet wound received during the war. Zadovitch looked about forty.He was broad and powerful with a shock of yellowish hair, a beard of the same colour and the flat high-cheekboned face of the typical Russian peasant

Due to Carmens' religious beliefs she declines any of Kems' further advances as she is still married to Escobar even though he has since discarded her as his wife.
One night Kem & Anna are outside searching for material for the bomb(s). They manage to evade their captors and stay outside overnight. To keep warm Anna starts to dig a large shallow rectangular ditch. With help from Kem the ditch grows to some six feet long and three feet wide. Anna then tells him,â€￾Now get your clothes offâ€￾ . The plan is to lie in the ditch with their clothes on top of them. Kem lies down in the ditch she then strips off and lies down on top of him with her knees either side of him. She pulls the clothes on top of herself and then lies down on top of him. He then shovels the dirt on to her back and then.......they fall asleep!!!!!
Zadovitch finds them in the morning and 'wrongly' accuses them of infidelity. He points the gun at Kem but Anna having pre-empted the situation had removed the bullets. A fight ensues and Zadovitch is killed.

When they return to the base, Kem deliberately creates a revolution within the camp by attacking the Bee/Beetle's to see if they have stingers that could harm the the giants or for that matter the humans. He attacks one and nothing happens he repeats this and kills one. He realises that they have very little defence other than the mini pincers which they use as hands.
Kem then makes the giants realise that they are being controlled and are being used as slaves. Uproar ensues.

Kem makes a deal with the Bee/Beetles that he will quell the revolt as long as they transport the human party home. With a few amendments it goes according to plan. The saucer takes of until Kem suspects the insect pilots of not fulfilling the agreement. He threatens the insects and they fly off into an unreachable part of the craft.

He then realises that they will have to fly the saucer back to Earth themselve's.

Page 42 - The descriptions so of the UFO sightings were of several 100 foot diameter Saucers with a central turret in the middle and one mother ship with a diameter of approx 500 feet. There were also a large number of small coloured lights that would dart about in and around the Saucers.
This reminded me very much of the various scene's in 'Close encounters of the Third kind'. I wonder where Mr Spielberg got his idea's from??
Page 112 - Chapter 12 is called - World Far From Ours. Later that same year (1952) an omnibus was produced titled, Worlds Far From here which contained the three 'Lost Civilisation' Stories , ‘The Man Who Missed The War’, ‘They Found Atlantis’ & ‘Uncharted Seas’.
Page 153 - Peenemunde has been mentioned in many of DW's books. 'They Used Dark Forces' is the book that uses Peenemunde as a major part of the storyline.


There are a couple of interesting idea's within the story line such as the smaller insect type creatures being the dominant species of the two.
There was also the ditch digging situation which I described earlier that just seemed very strange but probably accurate.

Although 'Black August' & 'The Ka of Gifford Hillary' are classified as 'Semi' Science Fiction novels, there are only two 'Total' Science Fiction novels that have been written by DW.
'Sixty Days to Live' was, I thought, a top notch novel which kept me riveted throughout. It's quite astonishing that his second S.F. story, 'Star of Ill Omen' should fall so far short.
I can't blame the age of the Science Fiction writing for appearing almost childlike at times as 'Star of Ill Omen' was written some 13 years after 'Sixty Days to Live'.

I suppose that with every (book) list, there are the books at the top of the list, a large chunk in the middle and the remainder that are left over, I have to say that this is one of the remainder.
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Location: U.K.

Post by Charles »

Great Review, Steve - well up to standard.

Looking at the theme on 'Wheatley's worst book' at viewtopic.php?t=44 , I see you're not alone in your assessment !

All best !
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