|Great Explosion, the (1963) [Novel]|
by Eric Frank Russell
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Little did Johannes Pretorius van der Camp Blieder, the runny-nosed tinkerer, envision the vast consequences of his discovery of a faster-than-light means of propulsion that could carry man to galaxies far away.
One of the results was a huge migration -- termed The Great Explosion -- of dissidents, trouble-makers, minority groups, and just plain nuts to far-flung planets, where they cultivate their ways of life without interference.
The novel opens four hundred years later with representatives of Terra, the mother planet, taking off in their mile-long Blieder-driven space craft for an inspection tour of four of the colonies. How the monstrous ship manages to get off the ground, with its Captain Grayder, Colonel Shelton and Sergeant Major Bidworthy of the military, and His Round Excellency The Ambassador countermanding each other's orders, is a far greater miracle than the Blieder drive. And the crew of incompetents is no help either.
The first colony is occupied by the descendants of a million banished criminals. It would seem to bear out the old saw that there is honor among theives, for it is divided into hundreds of mutually suspicious little camps with no law to unify them but the rules of finders-keepers. "Finding," as far as anyone can see, does not seem to differ in great measure from robbing. A hardy platoon of Terrans chases a band of Tungs all over the desert to no avail, and Trooper Wagstaff would gladly sound recall except that one of the Tungs has snitched his bugle.
The next planet is settled by sun worshippers and health faddists. Naturally, the precepts of diplomacy demand that Terrans observe the local customs. So The Ambassador orders his landing party to greet the settlers in native garb -- stark naked. But there are compensations, for the woman-hungry Earth-men can have their innings with the planet's robust nude lovelies. That is, as soon as the men have been fumigated and served a one-year quarantine.
Needless to say, the other two colonies are packed with equally hilarious surprises, climaxed by a mutiny of crewmen employing a most potent native weapon: a wood plaque with the letters F --- IW.
Original title: The Great Explosion
Genre: Fiction→ Science Fiction→ Adventure→ Lost Worlds and Colonies