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Next of Kin by Eric Frank Russell
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Next of Kin (edition 2008)

by Eric Frank Russell (Author)

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283682,848 (3.84)10
Scout-Officer John Leeming knew from the very start that his reconnaissance mission deep into enemy territory was likely to be a one-way trip. But when his ship finally let him down and he crashed on a far-distant planet and was captured by tough and ruthless aliens, he knew he wasn¿t just going to give up. Armed with a piece of wood, a coil of copper-like wire, his quick wits and an imaginary ally called Eustace, Leeming embarked on a brilliant campaign to gain his freedom - and coincidentally undermined the entire alien war effort!… (more)
Member:misparse
Title:Next of Kin
Authors:Eric Frank Russell (Author)
Info:Matrix Digital Publishing (2008), 260 pages
Collections:Your library
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Next of Kin by Eric Frank Russell (Author)

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» See also 10 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
3.5 🌟
I would've rated it 4 🌟 but for the homophobic slur stuck smack-dab in the middle of the story. A discipline-weary flyer for the military volunteers for a scouting expedition deep into enemy space during a war. Being overambitious, and loving the fast little scout ship he'd been assigned, he reconnoitered way more planets than he'd been expected to, and as a result, blew out most of his exhaust tubes and had to make a forced landing on a hostile planet. Surviving by his wits for days, he's eventually taken prisoner and must find a way to escape, using only his brains, his Willies, and his Eustaces? A hilarious use of the language and appreciated character development. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
aka "The Space Willies"...humorously entertaining ( )
  majackson | Aug 18, 2019 |
I like Russell's novels. He is one of the Classic SF writers I recently discovered in my quest to review SF of the 50s-60s. That said, what started as a fun adventure went a little lame. It was pretty good until the last quarter then it was just silly. Currently my least favorite book by this author. ( )
  ikeman100 | Aug 5, 2019 |
My own comment when I first read this in 1964 was "ridiculously funny." I now have all three versions, and my comment still stands.
The original is "Plus-X", the cover story of Astounding, April 1956 (and the cover is great). At 21,000 words, it was expanded to 41,000 words in 1958 as "The Space Willies," for the Ace Double with "Six Worlds Yonder." The added words basically detail how our fearless hero got into his predicament, and the original story fills out the final chapters. Finally, in 1959, Russell enlarged it again, to 48,000 words as the solo novel "Next of Kin." The extra words only affect the first 5 chapters, and don't materially affect the book. Perhaps the publisher needed something closer to 50,000 words.
A vaguely related story is "The Waitabits," a less-funny bit of insanity about another deep space scout, with the same assignment officer. It's in the same Ace Double in "Six Worlds Yonder," and all five of the other stories are unrelated stories about deep space scouts. ( )
  steve823 | Jun 28, 2011 |
John Leeming is a somewhat colourful space pilot, sent out to discover hostile planets during an interplanetary war.
When his spaceship breaks down, forcing him to land on an enemy planet, his quest to go back home begins.
All he has are his sharp wits... but oh my, he does use them, and quite hilariously so!

I bought this book when still in my teens (many, many years ago) and since then I' ve read it at least once a year-
and it has never failed to amuse me! ( )
  shireling | Feb 24, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Russell, Eric FrankAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carlsson, PederTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chalker, Jack L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freas, KellyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lans, CarlTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKie, AngusCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meistermann, ChristianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shaw, BarclayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Achtung!
Upon the cover the nominal publisher claims that this superb story was produced by Eric Frank Russell. It is a barefaced lie because his Eustace knows better.
He knew he'd stuck his neck out and it was too late to withdraw.
Quotations
Certain chemical reactions take place only in the presence of a catalyst, like marriages legalised by the presence of an official. Some equations can be solved only by the inclusion of an unknown quantity called X. If you haven't enough to obtain a desired result you've got to add what's needed. If you require help that doesn't exist you must invent it.

Whenever Man had found himself unable to master his environment with his bare hands, thought Leeming, the said environment had been coerced or bullied into submission by Man plus X. That had been so since the beginning of time: Man plus a tool or a weapon.

But X did not have to be anything concrete or solid. It did not have to be lethal or even visible. It could be intangible and unprovable as the threat of hellfire or the promise of heaven. It could be a dream, an illusion, a whacking great thundering lie - just anything.

There was only one positive test: whether it worked.

If it did, it was efficient.

Now to see.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The short story Plus-X was expanded into The Space Willies/Next of Kin. The Space Willies was published in German and French translation as Plus-X. Don't confuse the original short story with the translations of the novel.
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Scout-Officer John Leeming knew from the very start that his reconnaissance mission deep into enemy territory was likely to be a one-way trip. But when his ship finally let him down and he crashed on a far-distant planet and was captured by tough and ruthless aliens, he knew he wasn¿t just going to give up. Armed with a piece of wood, a coil of copper-like wire, his quick wits and an imaginary ally called Eustace, Leeming embarked on a brilliant campaign to gain his freedom - and coincidentally undermined the entire alien war effort!

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