FORGOTTEN BOOK: CROYD by Ian Wallace, GP Putnam’s Sons, 1967
This is the 65th in my series of Forgotten Books.
One of the best things about doing this column is getting to go back and re-read some classic books and then remember the situations where I read them. I recall much about this week’s book. It was the summer of 1969 and I had no car, no job, and no prospects. So I became the de facto babysitter for my brother and sister and sat around all summer reading books and watching movies. Way before Turner Classic provided a good heady lineup. I was limited by whatever the three local channels provided.
I did have a good collection of books thanks to some paperback exchanges, 7-11’s and the Science Fiction Book Club. During that summer I read 102 books, one for every day and then a few more thrown in for good measure. Some were long, like STAND ON ZANZIBAR. Others, like BLACKMARK were short.
On that reading list was CROYD, the first SF novel by Ian Wallace. I picked up due to the fabulous Paul Lehr cover and read it sometime during those blazing days. I have had a copy for years until I sold my collection and then later on replaced it with an ex-library copy minus the dj. Orange boards do not really replace Paul Lehr, but it is what I have.
I say that I read it. I know my eyes scanned the pages and words flowed through my brain, but as I re-read it this week, I was astounded. I remembered absolutely nothing, other than Croyd was the name of the title character and he did funny things with time.
This book must have blown my mind because it did it again this week. This is space opera on a Wagnerian scale. Croyd is an uberman – a superior human being with powers never fully explained or understood. He can travel uptime or downtime. He is classified U4 – a being of extreme and unknown power working for the Galactic Union.
At the beginning of the book, Croyd has a clandestine meeting with the President of the Union. It seems some HOTSPURS may be throwing Ceres at the Neptune moon of Nereid which is the center of the Galactic Union. Normally this would not be a problem, but Croyd has cavalierly rescued a young woman Greta in a bar. He is then immediately attacked and finds that 1) he is not in control of his body, 2) his mind is located in Greta’s body along with Greta’s mind, and 3) an alien gnurl princess named Lurla has taken over his body. Shades of mind games like WORLD OF N”ULL-A by Van Vogt.
So the gnurls have been surreptitiously kidnapping humans for years and learning about them. Humans know nothing of them since the kidnappees do not return. But it seems the HOTSPUR menace is a temporary diversion since the gnurls have hollowed out a planet, filled it with explosives and are planning on imploding the universe.
This whole thing is sort of like Van Vogt meets Edmond Hamilton after he has had lunch with Peter Hamilton and they decide to do a spy/alien novel with Ian Fleming. Totally bug crazy. And I loved it. The sequel DR. ORPHEUS I recall as being just as weird. I will have to find time to get to it also. So, if you feel like messing with your mind, read last week’s SACRED LOCOMOTIVE FLIES or CROYD. You might then have tapioca for brains. Copies seem to be available out there for not a great deal of cash.
In doing a little research on the web, I found a wonderful article from UNHINGED magazine in 1990 which discusses the work of Ian Wallace, a pseudonym used by John Wallace Pritchard. His books pretty well defy description. If you are interested, read the full article Who Is Ian Wallace?
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.