His Wisdom, the Defender: A Story

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Arno Press, Jan 1, 1975 - Science fiction - 328 pages

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This novel, His Wisdom The Defender, is the worst novel I have ever read. I can say that with confidence, because although I expect that I have started reading still worse novels, I never finished them. So why did I finish this one? Simply because Simon Newcomb is regarded, correctly, as the greatest, or at least one of the greatest, of all astronomers who have ever lived, and I am a professional astronomer. I wanted to know the mind of Newcomb better, and now, sadly, I do. I might add that I have recently learned that this same Simon Newcomb is regarded by professional economists as, you guessed it, the greatest, or at least one of the greatest, of all economists. The publication date of the novel is 1900; the story unfolds over the period 1941 to 1946. The hero, Professor Archibald Campbell (clearly Newcomb himself) goes on leave so as to develop inventions; an aircraft shaped like a dirigible powered by coal plus etherine and therm (sic), capable of rising above the atmosphere and going at high speed to anywhere in the world. Cambell builds a huge fleet of them of various kinds (one kind are called daddies) and recruits American crews for them and determines to bring eternal peace and harmony to the world by unilaterally attacking several European nations, which he does. He captures the Kaiser, and releases him when Germany has collapsed under the air attack by Campbell. The result is that, on the second last page of the novel, and I quote, -students assembled in the grounds of Harvard shouted with their clarion voices, Rah! Rah! Rah! the Defender-, and Campbell goes on to benevolently rule the world. Sheesh! Richard Conn Henry henry@jhu.edu
P.S. see http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/Simon.Newcomb.New.York.Times.png

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