Thursday, March 07, 2013

Sixth Column

Sixth Column starts out fast. In the first few sentences we hear of the Washington D.C. and New York going down as the U.S. is taken over by "Pan Asians". The story then focuses on a research outpost where most of the people have recently been killed. It turns out they have some "super-weapons" that can be tuned to only impact certain groups of people. They also have the ability to perform modern alchemy and change molecules to different elements. However they only have a half dozen people in their facility.

One "lawyer-turned hobo-turned private" goes on an exploratory mission and discovers that the pan-Asians have severely clamped down on the freedom of Americans. About the only venue for public meeting that remains is the church. Thus, they decide the way to organize is through the church. They create their own "church" that focuses on giving freely to the poor (with transmuted gold), while freely accepting the creeds of other religions. Eventually they prevail, vanquishing the Pan-Asians. Now the question remains of how the US will be organized. (This is touched briefly in the book. However, it could easily be an entirely new book. The technology could greatly alter the economy, while the extreme disruption may make alternate political organization more feasible.)

The book was first serialized in 1941 and later published in 1949. Its portrayal of races would probably never go in today's politically correct environment. However, considering the time it was published, it seems quite progressive. (In the novel Asian-Americans are in a no-man's land, killed off by the Pan-Asians who don't know what to do with them, but not trusted by most Americans.) The use of a scientific psuedo-church for ulterior means seems quite similar to modern scientology. (Perhaps Hubbard got his idea from reading Heinlein.) The story itself is an enjoyable, quick read.

1 comment:

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