Rogue in Space by Frederic Brown (1957)

November 9th, 2009

Frederic Brown has been described as a writer’s writer. He has been influential in Science Fiction and I am of the opinion that his style and choice of subjects anticipate the Science Fiction New Wave writers of the late 1960s. He was a prolific writer and was successful in writing mysteries and detective fiction.  I have read some short story collections by Brown as well as "Martians Go Home" and "The Lights in the Sky Are Stars". I have always considered him one of my favorite writers.

Rogue in Space, however is not one of my favorite books. The characters and plot are interesting and inventive, but there is an undercurrent of sexual peculiarity that makes the book unpalatable. Detective fiction of the time frequently produced misogynist detectives who beat up homosexuals, but it is a major theme in Rogue of Space and is not central to the plot. Brown makes it creepy. The protagonist, named Crag, has real problems with women and only seems to like them when they are dying in his arms. Sexual deviancy is continually brought into the action when it is not needed. The future, according to Brown, is populated by whores and pimps whose customers are perverts.

The rest of the story line is more interesting. The Rogue might be the protagonist, but it also applies to a strange life form who drifts through space for billions of years. Men are the first intelligence that the creature has ever encountered in all the long years of its travels. The first man that it meets is the creepy main character, Crag, who is a murdering professional felon with no conscience and no ability to relate to women. The alien decides that it wants to stay around and converts the asteroid belt into a planet in order to attract Crag and pursue a relationship.  You might guess where it goes.

I can’t help but feel that I should wash my hands after handling the book. I did not like the way it was written.

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I started reading Science Fiction in the 1950s. I started Writing SF in the 1960s. Then, I had a life. Now I am retired, raising chickens and keeping bees. I am still an avid reader and I have sold about 70 stories in the last 20 years.
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