Sunday, July 6, 2014

Themes and Tropes of Stranger in a Strange Land Paralled in Rediscovered 1961 Novel by SF Novelist Larry Maddock

   Sabra Jardine, daughter of the late social critic and sex researcher, Jack Jardine, best known to science fiction fans as Larry Maddock, author of the 1960s Agent of T.E.R.R.A. series, has sent FuturesPast Editions what we consider to be his "lost" masterpiece. Originally titled "Madam Ninon" it was published under the outlandish title "Malibu Nymphs" by a short lived pulp paperback publisher with no hint on the cover that the book was in any way science fiction.
   Written in the early months of 1961, "Madam Ninon" parallels the approach and subject matter of Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land." Both use the trope, first popularized in "Candide," of a naif who slowly discovers the hollowness of his culture's morals and shibboleths, particularly those surrounding sexuality . As with Heinlein's novel, this examination is triggered by the presence of a messianistic figure with strange powers.
   Set at the dawn of the 1960s, just before the sexual revolution, the book's central figure, Madam Ninon, was inspired by Maddock/Jardine's research into the life and sexual philosophy of the famous 17th century courtesan and writer, Anne "Ninon" de l'Enclos. Her sexual philosophy, "We should take care to lay in a stock of provisions, but not of pleasures: these should be gathered day by day-" resonated strongly with Maddock/Jardine. As did her founding of  a School of Gallsntry where she taught the arts of love to the sons and daughters of the aristocracy. 
   Filled with pungent verbal duels, Madam Ninon often reads like something out of Heinlein's "Stranger."
   From the text:

   He said suddenly, not willing the words and not able to stop the torrent of emotion which had been fermenting inside him. "My Lady, when I told you I loved you I meant it. I'll be your slave for life, asking no other reward than the privilege of looking at you from time to time."

Brett looked at the flame-tressed goddess and won­dered how such a diety as she could ever need a mere human such as himself... Brett could no more attain her degree of perfection than he could try to compete with his own mother. He smiled inwardly—maybe that was why he couldn't quite face the thought of going to bed with her, it would be too much like sleeping with his mother. But Ninon wasn't his mother.

   The goddess was talking. "We're all emotionally right wingers, conservatives to an extreme, with conservative moral prejudices built into us long before we're able to think. That's why everyone can know, intellectually, that a certain taboo is senseless, and yet we all continue to observe the senseless taboos. Even I, Brett. I feel uneasy when I hear certain words, or see them in print. I can't help it."

"If there are areas which the individual must not talk about or think about, these areas are
closed to creativity—and any possible good coming about as an accidental offshoot of thinking in these areas is elim­inated. But there is a much more positive evil in censoring the human mind in any area—it gets us used to being censored, to being controlled. It opens the door to total brainwashing."

I've got a lot of emotional prejudices to over­come, Brett thought ruefully. And there's no better time to start overcoming them right now . . .

   Madam Ninon will be published Fall 2014.

    Meanwhile, you can read his equally fascinating Agent of T.E.R.R.A. series, written as by Larry Maddock.

Only $2.99 at Amazon, B&N, and iTunes.
#4. The Time Trap Gambit (in preparation)


No comments:

Post a Comment