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Wasp [Paperback]

Eric Frank Russell
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 13 1986
In Wasp Eric Frank Russell provides a thrilling account of a covert war carried out in the heart of enemy territory. His previous novels include Sentinels from Space, Sinister Barrier and Three to Conquer.

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Product Description

About the Author

Eric Frank Russell (1905-1978) was the first British writer to contribute regularly to Astounding and his first story, 'The Saga of Pelican West' appeared in that magazine in 1937. His novels include Sentinels from Space, Sinister Barrier and Three to Conquer and his short fiction has appeared in a number of collections. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Masterpiece By Underrated Man Jan. 14 2006
"Wasp" is yet another of that enormous sf library which I first encountered round about age eleven - and find myself still going back to half a century on. Hope that says something about the books rather than about me. Be that as it may, it is a list to which the late Eric Frank Russell has contributed more than his fair share.

When things military come into Russell's tales, they tend to draw upon his personal experience from WW2, and "Wasp" is no exception. Based on proposals from Russell's time with British Intelligence in the Pacific theatre, it is the story of one man against an Empire - a solitary agent sent into the heart of enemy territory to cause chaos and mayhem out of all proportion to his resources.

James Mowry is the typical Russell hero, a solitary type not over-fond of authority, but who would, in his own words "rather walk into something than be frogmarched into it" and will, if absolutely cornered, acknowledge that some kinds of authority are a good deal nastier than others. He finds himself cordially invited to take part in just such a conflict to "defend the bad against the worse", between Terra and the Sirian Combine, a futuristic version of the Japanese Empire of 1942, which it resembles right down to the name of its secret police. He is dropped in (surgically disguised to resemble a Sirian) entirely on his ownsome, his assignment being to create, single-handed, the appearance of a powerful resistance movement. This he does to spectacular effect, causing the enemy to tie up whole shiploads of troops and agents to suppress a movement that in fact is only one man.

There is room for a quibble or two.
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As a teenaged devotee of Sci-Fi in the late 50's, this was one of the first of a select list of books of any genre that impacted my life. I didn't fully understand why this was so then; I only knew it was special, even tremendously relevant at some fundamental level. At the time, yes, it completely entertained me with its action and its sardonic and irreverent narrative. Beyond that, the precepts of this novel created an unease in my mind that remained with me over the years. Full comprehension followed with a little more life experience and a better understanding of humanity and our history. Now this book not only entertains and intrigues, but frightens as well
"Wasp" is a portrayal of how devastating a single, well-equipped terrorist can be to a society (especially a technology-based one). Though the society targeted in this novel is (humanoid) alien and the terrorist a human patriot (albeit not entirely willing) passing as an alien with the help of some surgical modifications, it is entirely believable that the author drew upon human social conditions, especially our foibles and weaknesses, as the basis for this alien society.
Using an insidious "monkey wrench" approach, one individual (suborning marginal elements of the enemy society for use as unwitting accomplices) spreads dissention and disinformation and fear, and so distracts the enemy police and military that the result is the creation of an environment in which the society can be more easily subdued with an overt military invasion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pacific War transferred to a galactic stage July 24 1999
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Since I first read it (and Russell's other brilliant books such as Men, Martians and Machines and Three to Conquer) in my early teens, I have regarded Wasp as one of the true SF classics. It ranks with Bester's The Demolished Man and Tiger! Tiger!, as well as the best of Clarke and Heinlein, although its sardonic tone has more in common with Robert Sheckley.
Although set in a future a few centuries ahead, when Earth is at war with the Sirian Combine, Wasp is directly transplanted from conventional warfare of the Second World War era. Indeed, I don't know why it took so long to dawn on me that the Sirians are analogues of the Japanese, while the noble Earthmen are essentially 1950s Americans. Oh sure, the Sirians are purple instead of yellow - but they are short, bandy-legged, and fanatical. To clinch it, their dreaded secret police is called the Kaitempi: compare the actual Japanese Kampeitei.
The Sirians have a great advantage in numbers, but the Earthmen are smarter. How to make the most of their quicker wits and superior technology? One way is to drop secret agents behind enemy lines to sow confusion, dissension and destruction. The result is dramatic, convincing and (in parts) riotously funny.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly gripping and interesting April 10 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this book when I was eleven or so and have spent the rest of my reading life in search of something that fascinated me more. Tolkien's was the only fiction that may have done so, but it is, of course, nothing like Wasp.
WASP is a short, simply written book, but it has some quality that makes people mad for it. I think it is the sardonic omniscient voice that adds so much to the flavor of WASP: the voice of the Author himself.
A new edition was published not long ago that was completely unabridged. I felt the slightly abridged version read better (It's always good to cut out the fancy talk.). But I may just be used to the same slightly shorter edition most people have read.
If you want a guaranteed fascinating read (and be swept away on wings of reading enjoyment!), buy this book now. Be forewarned, however, that some might say it kind of glorifies terrorism.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A half a century later
I read this book way back when I was a teenager. I loved it then and it is just as well written and exciting as it was then. Read more
Published 10 months ago by pipersnakis
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome, very enjoyable
This book is a classic, quite old but an exciting well told story never goes out of style. This is dubbed science fiction but it does not resemble most science fiction, just a good... Read more
Published on Nov. 19 2011 by lookingforgoodbooks
4.0 out of 5 stars Stealth and Politics
Basically he gave the idea, of 1 man making a difference, through non-violent means.
The concept of the Wasp, is to annoy the enemy to the point of distraction. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2004 by Craig M. Rosenblum
WASP was probably my first SF novel read, and it along with MISSION OF GRAVITY by Hal Clement hooked me for life. Read more
Published on July 27 2000 by Mike Farris
5.0 out of 5 stars Bond...space Bond
Really, this underrated classic is more of a spy story than sci-fi. It deals with Earth having to fight a protracted interstellar war with a humanoid civilization in the Sirian... Read more
Published on July 17 2000 by R. L. MILLER
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest books I've ever read!
I read this book in the early 60's. I promised myself I would never forget the title so as to read it again as soon as I found a copy. I'm still waiting . Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2000 by Alfonso Ruiz-Fernandez
5.0 out of 5 stars " A great read, should never go out of print"
I first read this book in early 60s and have reread it a few times since. It is a timeless story of how one man, with some essential supplies, can disrupt a whole world. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 1999 by Lawrence J. Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem
This rather hard to find little book is a true classic. You'll need to get past the first few paragraphs where it seems that the author is in fact a 14 year-old... Read more
Published on June 30 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, political, uber-commando story of one against many.
When I read this as a teenager in the early '60's, the novel was a unique sci-fi work in that it presented a first-person, military terrorist on an alien world. Read more
Published on May 18 1999
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