I am always apprehensive about reading a book from an author I don’t know. I have several Manly Banister books in the collection that I bought, so the person who collected them in the first place must have liked him. I can’t find anything about Manly Banister except that he is quite famous for writing a series of books on bookbinding and picture framing. One wonders if it is the same person. I was able to discover that Mr. Banister was an SF fan in the early 1950s and published his own fanzine and appeared in others.
The Conquest of Earth was a mostly well written and interesting book to read. Its major fault is that it runs off into a philosophical la-la land every once in a while and brings the plot to a halt. The final action takes place much too quickly in the space of about 10 pages and reads like Mr. Banister had reached the right word count and wanted to finish up the book.
The novel is about a far future world where a mysterious aliens or alien has conquered Earth and is slowly killing it while pretending to be humanity’s benefactor. There is an underground group of ninja-like philosophers who have developed psionic powers that allow them to teleport, read minds and light cigarettes without a match. This underground is organizing for the day that they can oust the aliens and take their rightful place as masters of the universe.
The story follows one of the underground society of "Men" who is has powers exceeding anyone else in the group. He has a few adventures, falls in love, loses his wife to a murderous alien, goes mad, and finally figures out how to get rid of the aliens. It is mostly fun stuff. It is escapist and full of adventure and sciencefictional elements.
In the last few paragraphs of the book, the hero destroys the aliens and is able to reincarnate his girl friend and live happily ever after. This, in spite of the generally good writing and even paced plot up to this point is a little amateurish and ruins a good book. As I approached the end I was wondering if there was going to be a sequel since there were so many loose ends that had not been wrapped up.
Since this book reads like a first novel, I am looking forward to the other Banister books on my shelf. If he gets better than these will be very good books indeed.
(note: the image above is a later edition than mine. Mine shows the price at 40¢ and has a different back cover.)