Revolt on Alpha C (1955) by Robert Silverberg

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Revolt on Alpha C (1955) by Robert Silverberg

Post  BoG on Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:30 pm

The first published novel from the prolific Silverberg, a juvenile > 118 pgs.


I have the 1969 7th edition from Scholastic (pictured above). This is one of those sf tales of future space travel, with terms like "overdrive" (later known as hyperdrive) which would be made popular as warp drive on Star Trek TOS. The story begins during the brief pit stop at Pluto, where mankind has one of their outposts - under a dome, of course. From there, after it's properly outfitted, the good ship Carden is scheduled to make the 2-week journey to the nearest star where mankind has more settlements - Alpha Centauri; on the 4th planet of this star, mankind has set up shop alongside the local fauna - dinosaurs.

The main character is a young cadet named Larry who comes from a long line of Space Patrol commanders. He has just graduated from Space Patrol Academy, has a lot to live up to and is very proud of being in the space service. One of his best buddies is a cadet named Harl Ellison (named after real-life famous writer Harlan Ellison, who was a neighbor of Silverberg's when he wrote this), a Martian (he's a human, just someone who was born and raised on Mars). They are on the traditional post-graduation space cruise, after which they will get their commissions. When I first read this novel, I expected it to be all about their adventures among dinosaurs, but the focus turns out to be on the geopolitical landscape of this future: there is a revolt brewing among the colonists of Alpha C-4, the planet they are heading to.

In this vision of the future, Silverberg paints the Earth as the imperialist bully, the role essayed by Great Britain in the 18th to 19th centuries. The colonies on Alpha C's 4th planet are demanding their independence from the mother planet. Larry begins the story as fiercely loyal to the Space Patrol, Earth and his superiors, but as the story progresses, he begins to have doubts about who is in the right. Some of his closest friends turn out to have sympathies towards the rebels; Larry is at first shocked and hostile about these revelations, but gradually learns of their aspirations and goals, which soon seem less insane to him. We don't find out which way Larry will go until the very end. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10
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