(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The Invincible is ostensibly a traditional science-fiction adventure novel whose tight and engaging plot describes an investigatory expedition to a distant planet. It is, in addition, a parabolic commentary upon the difficulties of human and nonhuman communication.

The narrative begins with the landing of the spaceship Invincible on the planet Regis III in the outermost quadrant of the Lyre Constellation. The goal of the crew, led by Horpach, the spaceship commander, with the assistance of Rohan, the navigator, from whose perspective subsequent events are recounted, is to retrieve a lost spaceship, the Condor. Satellite photographs reveal a series of geometric formations suspected to be abandoned cities. These prove instead to be lifeless, impenetrable, metallic mounds of wiry tangles supported within by huge pillars which intersect innumerable rods and folded layers of honeycomb structures.

The crew also locates the Condor. Its interior is in shocking disarray, and dead crewmen are scattered in and about the ship. It appears that the Condor crew died of natural causes, although one Invincible scientist suggests mass insanity. Rohan leads a second squad to the abandoned “cities” but is ordered to return to the Invincible when a member of another investigative group returns to the craft a helpless amnesiac. A prospecting expedition under the command of Regnar sets off to analyze minerals but instead comes in contact with “furiously...

(The entire section is 607 words.)