The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Dr. Edward Hawks has invented a method of electronically encoding a human and simultaneously transmitting the code to both the Moon and his laboratory. The original is destroyed in the process, but neither duplicate accepts that it is not the original. Hawks is put in charge of a project to unlock the mystery of an alien artifact discovered on the far side of the Moon. The U.S. Navy drops receiving equipment for Hawks’s device close to the artifact, and Hawks’ project has beamed Navy personnel duplicates to the receiver while at the same time creating duplicates in Hawks’ laboratory on Earth.

Duplicates entering the artifact are killed. Hawks discovers that the duplicates in his laboratory go insane from the experience of living through their own deaths via the mental/emotional link with the duplicates in the alien structure. He must continue to send duplicates into the artifact, however, because each one moves a little closer to finding a way through the alien labyrinth.

Hawks is frustrated because the project cannot find volunteers whose duplicates maintain their sanity after living through their own horrible deaths. He also struggles with the knowledge that the project is sending men to their deaths and driving their duplicates insane. Finally, he relies on Vincent Connington, personnel director for one of the project’s contractors, to recommend someone for the project. Connington proposes Al Barker, a daredevil of a man who has...

(The entire section is 538 words.)