The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Originally published as a magazine novel under the title Flight into Yesterday, the story later was slightly expanded and published in book format under that same title. A subsequent paperback version gave it the title The Paradox Men. The book went out of print in the United States for twenty-nine years, then appeared again in 1984, in substantially expanded and revised form.

The Paradox Men is the story of a decaying civilization—America Imperial—and the efforts of one man to ensure that the future will not be as brutal and decadent as the past. Slavery, torture, assassination, and other forms of brutality are rampant under the chancellorship of Bern Haze-Gaunt. The Society of Thieves—an organization of anonymous men with a type of invisible body armor that protects against high-velocity missiles but not swords—steals from the privileged class and uses the proceeds to buy freedom for slaves. It apparently is the legacy of Kennicot Muir. Muir has developed the Muir drive for spaceships, which are fueled by Muirium, recovered by Muir from the Sun. Muir has disappeared, presumably murdered by Haze-Gaunt, who also has forcibly married Muir’s wife, Keiris.

Five years earlier, a spaceship of unknown origin had crashed in the Ohio River. The government had recovered a strange creature, resembling a spectral tarsier. Haze-Gaunt has adopted the primatelike creature as a pet. It is continually terrified and continually pleads with Haze-Gaunt not to “go away.”...

(The entire section is 620 words.)