It had a blue cover

Here’s a post by Steven Popkes at Book View Cafe: Consideration of Works Past: Star Bridge

The first paragraph caught my eye:

I’ve been looking for this novel for a bit now. Of course, it would have been helpful to know the title or authors. I had vague recollections of the plot and characters: ancient Chinese man, extraterrestrial parrot, faster than light tube system. For some reason, this wasn’t sufficient. I kept getting hits on India’s Classical Logic System, core standard testing, and early flying machines. All of which were cool but not relevant.

Wow. Ancient Chinese man, extraterrestrial parrot, faster than light tube system. Those are not elements that can often have occurred together. You’d really think those particular elements would narrow down the search REALLY fast. Also, not ringing a bell. This is certainly something I’ve never read.

Popkes found it eventually: Star BridgeJack Williamson and James E. Gunn, 1955.

Have any of you read this? I don’t know that it sounds like my cup of tea, but it IS interesting to pick up a title that old and take a look at it. The rest of the linked post includes a detailed review of Star Bridge.

Star Bridge is one of those books that seems to have unexpected influence on the people that read it. Both Samuel R. Delany and Edward Bryant said this was the book that introduced them to SF. It is not a great book. Essentially, it follows a formula of one man against a tyranny, overcoming all obstacles to put the world on the path to freedom. We’ve seen this trope from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to Demolition Man to Firefly.

Well, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that basic plot.

Along the way, Horne meets Wu, a near immortal Chinese man, whose constant companion is an extraterrestrial shapeshifter that preferentially takes the form of a bedraggled parrot, Lil. Lil’s favorite food is diamonds.

I’m laughing here.

Oh, look at this:

Horne is captured and sent to Vantee Prison, a supposedly inescapable facility….

A prison escape! One of my favorite tropes I’ve never used. This book is starting to look like one I might enjoy.

However, this post is a lot more than a plot summary of Star Bridge. Popkes is very much setting this novel into the context of the era. If, after reading this post, you find you’d like to try the actual novel, Star Bridge is here on Amazon, available in ebook form. I’m going to try a sample. Older SF sometimes fails for me on stylistic grounds, never mind on the grounds of changing sensibilities, but even so, quite a few things about this one sound good.

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