Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Book Review: 'Recall Not Earth' by C. C. MacApp (Carroll M. Capps)

3/5 Stars

According to the Wikipedia entry, C. C. MacApp was the pseudonym of SF writer Carroll Mather Capps (1917 – 1971). Capps wrote a number of short stories and novels during the 60s; ‘Recall Not Earth’ was published in 1970, just a year before his (her ?) death.

“Recall’ is a brief (192 pp) novel taking place in the far future, where a sort of Galactic Federation oversees the political ambitions of a number of alien races. Earth has been destroyed in a war with one of the Federation members, the Vulmot Empire. The novel opens some eight years after the apocalypse; a few hundred Earthmen who happened to survive the destruction of their home world still exist, having been left alive by the Vulmot as an example of what happens to those who dare to anger the Empire. Some of these Earthmen are scattered around the galaxy, serving as mercenaries; others have lapsed into despair, and spend their time as drug addicts or angst-riddled sybarites. With no women having survived the Vulmot attack on Earth, the future of the human race looks bleak, to say the least.

The hero of ‘Recall’ is a down-at-heels space commander named Johnathan Braysen. Braysen is told by a mercenary colleague that the Chelki, former slaves of the Vulmot Empire, have a scheme to allow the Earthmen to rise and defeat the Empire, as well as the promise of access to….Earthwomen ! Hundreds of them, stashed away at a secure location ! Of course, this information serves quite well to get our Terran heroes into a state of acute interest, and within the book’s first 50 pages, Braysen is leading a team of human space raiders, piloting ships supplied by the Chelki, on hit-and-run attacks designed to provoke the Vulmot Empire into war with a rival race, the Bizh.

Soon the tiny band of Terran survivors get their hands on a massive super-spaceship, and plans for revenge are in the offing…but the Vulmot are starting to realize that having a cadre of their erstwhile enemies still alive and kicking may have been a mistake. Can the Earthmen succeed in gathering an intergalactic opposition to the hated Vulmot, or will their frail rebellion collapse and leave mankind extinct ?

In order to avoid spoilers, I won’t divulge much else of the main plot, but it’s safe to say that it’s a standard space opera narrative; there’s not much here that’s particularly noteworthy or original.

MacApp’s (Capps’s) writing is pulp-ish even for 1970 (‘Recall’ is the first time in my reading life when I’ve seen the adverb ‘bunchily’ used ! ), when greater stylistic consciousness was well underway among the majority of SF authors. And the modern reader will probably titter when reading a line like this:

He hesitated. “John, do you think Humbert was actually a fag ?”

On its good side, ‘Recall’ has a fast-moving plot, with some moments of suspense carefully timed and worked into the narrative, particularly when the undergunned Earth fleet contemplates combat with the merciless Vulmot. There are some quasi-New Wave notes to the storyline, in that the surviving Earthmen are not exactly the square-jawed, clean-living heroes of the pulp era; Braysen struggles with a heroin-like drug addiction, and other Earthmen have taken up (rather creepy) lifestyles centering on pliant alien concubines. In this regard, at least, author Capps was attempting to stretch a bit beyond the more hackneyed space opera formula.

Overall, 'Recall Not Earth' is a quick and reasonably enjoyable read for those interested in taking in a conventional SF adventure. Those hoping for a more imaginative storyline, by an author employing superior writing skills, probably won’t find it as engaging.

NOTE: added February 2, 2009

courtesy of io9.com: blatant recycling of the same cover illustration !

according to this link, 'Vampires of Venus' was a pulp SF novel that originally appeared in 1951. I can't tell if 'Five Star' paperback is ripping off Dell's artwork, or vice versa...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All you have to do to double check authorial data is check sf encyclopedia -- Carol is a he....


I've always ADORED the Podwil cover.