a review by Rich Horton
Today would have been Fredric Brown's 112th birthday. In his honor, then, I decided to post a fairly brief review I did a long time ago, for my SFF Net newsgroup, of his novel The Lights in the Sky Are Stars.
Brown (1906-1972) was a well-respected writer in both the SF and Mystery genres, winning one Edgar for his novel The Fabulous Clipjoint. His work was often funny, though often with a serious, even dark, undertone. He was well-known for his very short stories. His best known short story is probably "Arena", which was anthologized in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and which is considered a source for the Star Trek episode of the same title. Here's what I wrote back in 1999 (which is also when the novel is set):
By the by there are some neatly typical '50s predictions for 1999: TV remote controls, but those fixed to the living room chairs (!), private helicopters as a common means of travel, and chemical rockets planned to reach the moon by 1969. (But they switched to atomics and got there by 1965: too bad for Brown's prediction record.) There's also the odd '50s faith in progress uber alles: the lead character refuses to believe that light speed is a real limit (humanity's beat every other limit it's faced, by gum, it won't let a little thing like the special relativity stop it!), though to be fair that's only his attitude: the novel itself has no relativity-beating. And there is a curious, somewhat effective, subplot involving a Buddhist vowing to get to the stars via teleportation.