(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Beyond Apollo is a fine example of science fiction’s New Wave of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Like many New Wave writers, Barry Malzberg sought to bring to the genre new stylistic devices and critical themes that contemporary writers of mainstream literature were using. Harry Evans thus has some of the haunted, introspective traits of a character by Saul Bellow or of Eugene O’Neill’s protagonist Edmund Tyrone in Long Day’s Journey into Night (1956).

At the same time, the self-referential form and the open ending of Beyond Apollo stand in opposition to the shape of much classical science fiction. Unlike Malz-berg’s text, classics such as Robert A. Heinlein’s masterpiece Starship Troopers (1959) generally have been marked by accessible, straightforward writing, an optimistic belief in humanity’s ability to explore space, and a goal-oriented drive toward the climactic solution to the major plot problem.

Although Beyond Apollo deals with the results of a failed space mission, the novel’s interest does not lie in finding the problem, fixing it, and moving on. Its very refusal to tell the exact reason for the mission’s failure turns the reader away from concrete, external problems and toward Malzberg’s exploration of the inner space of Harry Evans. What emerges is the picture of Evans’ personal traumatization at the hand of an overbureaucratized, indifferent space program that tries to...

(The entire section is 514 words.)