Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Power

The other night Bill Crider wrote about how much the novel I Am Legend has meant to him over the years. Same here. It's my favorite science fiction novel. I've read it as recently as a year ago. It never loses its power for me.

Another novel I first read in 1956 is The Power by Frank M. Robinson. You may know the name because he's written blockbuster international bestsellers as well as award-winning science fiction novels.

The Power was his first novel. If Cornell Woolrich had ever used the paranormal in any coherent way he'd have done something like The Power. It's a perfect noir, a dark chase novel through Chicago as a small group of scientists try to find out which of them has The Power. Robinson enriches the book by giving us, on the fly, a wry look at academia of that era. He also gives us a man so alone and desperate as to make Richard Kimble of The Fugitive look like a game show contestant. Like I Am Legend, I reread this every so often. I yet to come across a single moment in it that I would change in any way.

4 comments:

Bill Crider said...

I loved THE POWER. The movie wasn't too bad, even with George Hamilton.

I remember that Bob Briney said he stood behind Robinson as he typed the novel and pulled the pages from the typewriter. That would have been fun. (I hope I'm remembering this correctly and not making Bob a liar.)

Ed Gorman said...

Wow. Now that would've been very very cool. Standing behind Frank as the pages were done. Robinson's had a long, fine career.

Duane Swierczynski said...

I definitely need to check out THE POWER.

But I'm with you guys--I AM LEGEND is probably my favorite science fiction novel. (And horror novel, too.) It's interesting that a 25-cent Gold Medal paperback could spawn an entire industry: namely, the zombie industry. The DNA is all right there in Matheson's novel.

Todd Mason said...

I'd suggest, however, that Woolrich at least managed horror-fiction coherence with "I'm Dangerous Tonight" (you can see why they wanted to film it, too bad they did such a bad job).