Counterfeit World Analysis
Counterfeit World is one of five novels by Daniel Galouye and was written at the height of his creative powers. Only his minor classic Dark Universe (1961) is perhaps better artistically. His work was a staple of the slick magazines of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Many critics believe that his career was shortened by injuries he sustained during World War II.
Counterfeit World is linked with several subgenres of fiction and science fiction. The manipulation of scale is one of the most common devices in literature. Legend, myth, and folklore teem with giants and little people. Such characters feature in stories from childhood such as “Jack and the Beanstalk” and satires such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) as well as in contemporary popular films such as King Kong (1933) and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989). Comic books are filled with characters out of scale, such as Giant-Man, Ant-Man, and the Wasp.
Counterfeit World also is part of a subgenre that postulates microcosmic worlds within larger macrocosmic worlds. This idea has been popularized as atoms in the known universe being solar systems in their own right. Several writers prior to Galouye wrote stories using this device; the earliest is The Triuneverse (1912) by R. A. Kennedy.
The idea of making the microcosmic world electronic is a more specific variation of this concept. The electronic world often is within a computer. Probably the best-known example of this form is the Disney film Tron (1982). Counterfeit World is an early work in this subgenre of microcosmic worlds. It features a type of virtual reality, long before that term came into vogue. It also has similarities to L. Ron Hubbard’s novella “Typewriter in the Sky” (1940) and even shares some broad ideas with Lewis Carroll’s Alice novels and contemporary video games.
Counterfeit World is technically ingenious, depending heavily on irony, and it reflects Galouye’s continuing interest in worlds that are unusual and perhaps even arbitrary constructs. Galouye also was interested in reality and how it is, or is not, perceived. Counterfeit World is carefully and cleverly plotted, original, and richly detailed. Although Galouye’s major weakness as a writer is his failure to give his characters depth, those of Counterfeit World are interesting, and Jinx truly achieves the status of a female hero.
Galouye did not win any major awards, but Dark Universe was nominated for a Hugo. His work often is neglected, but those who have examined it generally acknowledge his technical skill and ingenuity. His best work is quite good.