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Wasp - Large Print [Large Print] [Paperback]

Eric Frank Russell

Price: CDN$ 19.65 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Nov. 10 2007
The war had been going on for nearly a year and the Sirian Empire had a huge advantage in personnel and equipment. Earth needed an edge. Which was where James Mowry came in. If a small insect buzzing around in a car could so distract the driver as to cause that vehicle to crash, think what havoc one properly trained operative could wreak on an unuspecting enemy. Intensively trained, his appearance surgically altered, James Mowry is landed on Jaimec, the ninety-fourth planet of the Sirian Empire. His mission is simple: sap morale, cause mayhem, tie up resources, wage a one-man war on a planet of eighty million. In short, be a wasp. First published in 1957, WASP is generally regarded as Eric Frank Russell's best novel, a witty and exciting account of a covert war in the heart of enemy territory.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Pollinger Limited; Large type edition edition (Nov. 10 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905665458
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905665457
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #764,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Masterpiece Jan. 15 2010
By M. W. Stone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Wasp" is yet another of that enormous sf library which I first encountered round about age eleven - and find myself still going back to in my sixties. 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. Considering that "Wasp" is supposed to be several centuries in the future, the technology, save for the existence of spaceships, is remarkably little advanced on 1957. About the only other innovations seem to be broadcast power and visual telephones. However, this does not impinge unduly on the story, which does not depend on technical marvels to any extent. Most of Mowry's weapons - crayons, window stickers, rumours spread verbally in parks, threatening letters, and the occasional mail bomb - seem pretty low-tech even for the time of writing. When he wants anyone killed, he hires local thugs to do it by the usual methods, rather than resorting to super-science. This indeed was perhaps the whole point of the story, that it was possible to cause major disruption without the need for super weapons and suchlike, rather as the wasp of the title was able to cause a car crash by frightening the driver without even needing to use its sting.

Less excusable is the total absence of any female characters. This sort of misogyny was common in early sf, and perhaps acceptable, given contemporary assumptions, where the characters were space pilots and the like. However, for what is essentially a "resistance fighter" novel it was anachronistic even for WW2, let alone a decade later.

I have less sympathy for the criticism I have run into in a number of places, which dislikes the novel because it somehow takes the wrong side in the "war on terror", making the terrorist the Good Guy. To my mind, anyone thinking like that suffers from myopia bordering on cataract. There have been plenty of instances in my lifetime, and even more in Russell's, where the Good Guys were defined by their enemies as "terrorists". Mowry's "victims" were typically secret policemen and other official types, surely fair game when there's a war on. Nor is it likely that his tactics would have been all that effective among a loyal population which still had confidence in its leaders. Basically, I think it's fair to say that any society which can be brought down, or even seriously undermined, by "Wasp" methods probably deserves to be. If anything in it makes us uneasy, perhaps we ought to be taking a hard look at ourselves rather than at the book.

In short, another "must read" for anyone already fond of Russell, and a good place to start for anyone who hasn't encountered him. Go out and get it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it's on the Kindle now Jan. 14 2010
By Chicago Slim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Although it's not linked, you can find this at the kindle store.

Amazon - when you set up your link, delete this review. I gave it 5 stars but haven't read it!
5.0 out of 5 stars Just as I remember it! Aug. 18 2013
By Quilpole - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A nice edition of EFRs Wasp, in large print. I've not read this book for decades, but now remember it was one of his best stories.
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic tale of insurgent warfare March 20 2011
By Hobgoblin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First published in 1957, WASP is set in a far future sci-fi universe that finds Earth with an interstellar empire spanning dozens of planets locked in a war with an alien empire of roughly similar disposition. Fortunately, these aliens look enough like us that a human with the proper build can be cosmetically altered to look like one and pass all but the most invasive inspections. James Mowry is such a man. He's a "WASP". A special agent trained and equipped to conduct guerrilla operations behind enemy lines. He's dropped onto an alien held planet around page 20, and the rest of the book details, in very believable fashion, his execution of an insurgent playbook that over a period of several months will bring an entire planet to its knees.

The sci-fi setting is a bit of an oddity as little attempt is made to anticipate future technologies. Aside from the spaceships not much distinguishes the alien world from 1950's breadbasket America. In fact, some of the tactics employed wouldn't stand up to 2011 technology. Rather than detract from the read, I found it actually created a nostalgic charm adding to the enjoyment. The book isn't about exotic technologies or alien worlds, it's about how one man, properly equipped and motivated, can wreak an utterly disproportionate amount of havoc. It's a timeless lesson and perhaps more important today than when it was written.

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