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Next of Kin [Paperback]

Eric Frank Russell
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2002 Sf Collector's
Scout-Officer John Leeming knew from the very start that his reconnaissance mission deep into enemy territory would likely be a one-way trip. But, after he crash-lands on a far distant planet and becomes a prisoner of ruthless aliens, he knows he can't just give up. Armed with only a piece of wood, a coil of copperlike wire, his quick wits, and an imaginary ally called Eustace, Leeming embarks on a brilliant campaign to gain his freedom--and undermine the alien war effort, too. This original, full-length version of one of Russell's most popular stories, "Plus X," is amusing, adventurous, fast moving, and razor sharp. Poking fun at bone-headed and inflexible bureaucrats and institutions, it ranks among his very best work.

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About the Author

Eric Frank Russell (1905-1978) was the first British writer to contribute regularly to Astounding Science Fiction, his first story, 'The Saga of Pelican West', appearing in that magazine in 1937. His novels include Sinister Barrier, Wasp and The Great Explosion and his short fiction has appeared in a number of collections.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a Kind Humor Feb. 14 2004
Format:Paperback
It has been several years since I have read "Next of Kin," but I have recommended it to every reader I know, whether they are fans of science fiction or not. Unless I am mistaken the story was written in 1954, long before manned space travel, and it is obvious by the description of the spacecraft and the perceptions of space travel. This does not in any way detract form the story, but in some way adds a bit to the humor. John Leeming is the main character. He is assigned to a remote area in outer space to act in some type of diplomatic capacity. But he is visited by misfortune and crash-lands on an alien planet which happens to be at war. Leeming finds himself imprisoned and labeled a spy. The story is a slow read until this point (approximately one full third to half of the book), but then the plot takes off into a wildly hilarious sprint that becomes increasingly more ingenious until the finale. Leeming has absolutely nothing at his disposal to aid in escape except for a block of wood and some copper wire that he strips from his prison bed, visual and audible observations from his cell window, and the most important element of all: superstitious and incredibly gullible captors. Leeming sets out on a journey of wit that convinces his jailers that invisible beings are poised to trample them into nothingness at his beckoned call, and that their enemies are "nuts" (a term that takes on a whole new world of meaning once you read the story).
This book is what all science fiction humor should be. The closest I have found are from the stories of Terry Pratchet's "Disk World" and related series', and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," although "Next of Kin" is far superior to them, at least as a stand-alone story. I HIGHLY recommend this story to any reader! It is thoroughly entertaining!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fast and funny read July 20 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Most of Eric Frank Russel's books have one thing in common, the quick witted humans outsmarting the dim-witted aliens. And this is no exception to the rule. While this may seem rather predictable and boring he always manages to avoid duplication. Each time the basic plot is worked out in a new and refreshing way.
Do not read this book if you want to read serious science giction or military science fiction. That is not what this book is about. It was written to tell a story that should not be taken seriuos and that leaves a smile on your face. And this is exactly what it does, and brilliantly so.
This time the aliens being outwitted are on the other side of an intergalactic war, and they have made the unfortunate mistake of capturing and imprisoning an earthling. But that was not their biggest mistake, the biggest mistake was teaching him their language. For once they learn to communicate their war is as good as lost.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The funniest SF story ever written July 8 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Eric Frank Russell remains my favorite SF writer; the only one who could make me both laugh and cry. There's no crying in this book, based on the short story that to this day received the highest "anlab" rating ever recorded for a story published in Astounding/Analog magazine. Russell's unique voice came from a blending of British reserve and humor with American slang and culture, as if John Cleese had been signed to play Sam Spade. Though Russell's science was pure '50's and often suspect, you won't care as you giggle, then chuckle, and finally roar your way through this story...which was inspired by an actual incident involving an English prisoner-of-war confined in a Turkish jail. Here's a perfect example of a superb "cross-over" SF story that could be filmed on a modest budget...I keep seeing Mel Gibson in the title role.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Political Sci-Fi at its best June 18 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
So sad he died before Cliton. One of the best less known authors of his time -- and his insite is timeless. This book deals with one major character..what a character. Also I would recommend WASP as another fine book to read. He is also one of the best short story writers that I have ever read. He has been used in many compenium volumes. Highly reccomend you read Jay Score and Manna. Join me in my sorrow that he did not write more.
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