Ilya Ischenko Ischenko itibaren 33034 Fagagna UD, İtalya
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Potential readers of L. Ron Hubbard's "Slaves of Sleep" who might be put off by the author's association with the cult of Dianetics and Scientology need not be concerned here. This novel first appeared in "Unknown" magazine in 1939, more than a decade before Hubbard's first Dianetics article was published (in "Astounding Science Fiction") in May 1950. Thus, in "Slaves of Sleep," there's not a mention of "auditors," "clears" or E-meters to be found. Rather, this is an extremely fast-moving and colorful fantasy tale, told with much brio and panache. In it, we meet Seattle shipping magnate Jan Palmer, a rather pusillanimous young man who is falsely accused of the murder of a visiting professor. I'm not giving anything away by saying that this murder was actually the work of the hairy, fanged and 15-foot-tall jinni Zongri, who's not at all grateful after being released from his bottle. (Barbara Eden he ain't!) Jan, the innocent bystander, is cursed by Zongri with "eternal wakefulness." Thus, whenever he nods off in his jail cell, his "sleep spirit" is tranported to an Arabian Nights-style empire, where humans are slaves and jinnis rule, and where he is the swashbuckling pirate Tiger. This reader has always been fond of any book or film that dishes out two exciting parallel story lines. You know the kind I mean: Just as things come to a head with one of the stories, the scene jumps to the other, and back and forth. Well, "Slaves of Sleep" does this to a turn, alternating between Jan's plight in his earthly jail cell and his adventures as Tiger the pirate. While back on Earth, Jan faces that murder charge and tries to prevent himself from being locked away in a sanatorium; in the otherworldly Tarbuton, he is captured by the jinni queen and must somehow escape. He is aided in his latter task when he comes to acquire the mystical Seal of Sulayman, and when the personalities of Jan and Tiger start to meld. Yes, this is all pretty way-out stuff, but as I mentioned up top, Hubbard carries it off with great flair. There are, however, some problems that pop up and prevent me from giving the book a top grade. Hubbard was a notoriously rapid writer, and there are scenes in the book that would have benefitted from some more detail. For example, the descriptions of the Rani temple, which Tiger infiltrates, are very vague, at best; most readers will have to tax their imaginations to adequately picture this stuff. And as some other readers have quite accurately pointed out, the book's conclusion IS rather rushed. In addition, once Jan acquires that Seal of Sulayman, his tasks are waaaay too easily accomplished. When all our hero has to do to sink a ship is say, in so many words, "Seal of Sulayman, sink that ship," much of the dramatic tension is removed, although the reader still gets a kick out of this vicarious wish fulfillment. It is easy to tell that Hubbard greatly enjoyed writing this tale, and that enjoyment IS communicated to the reader, but still, this reader was somehow left wanting more. I originally picked up this out-of-print book because of the glowing review in Cawthorn and Moorcock's excellent overview volume entitled "Fantasy: The 100 Best Books." Well, I'm not sure that "Slaves of Sleep" deserves to be on that top 100 list, but I did have fun reading it, and marginally recommend it to all lovers of fast-moving, swashbuckling fantasy fare.