Sometimes, I just don't get it.
The December 1960 Fantasy and Science Fiction
is almost completely devoted to one short novel, Rogue Moon
, by Algis Budrys. I like Budrys, and F&SF is generally my favorite magazine, so I've been looking forward to this book since it was advertised last month.
To all accounts, it is a masterpiece (and by "to all accounts", I mean according to the buzz in the local science fiction circles). The premise is certainly exciting: there is an alien structure on the moon, an amorphous multi-dimensional thing, that kills all who enter it. To facilitate its exploration, the navy utilizes a matter transporter that disassembles one's molecules in one place and reconstructs them elsewhere. Volunteers are sent from Earth to their certain death to push a few more feet into the deadly extraterrestrial maze.
Of course, the transporter doesn't actually send anyone anywhere; it destroys the original and creates a copy that thinks it is the original. In fact, it's possible to make multiple copies of a person, and that is what is done: one copy goes to the moon to die, while the other stays on Earth to live on. It turns out that the two copies have a limited degree of telepathic contact for a short time, so the Earthbound copy can report on what his moonbound copy experiences.
The project's main hurdle is that it takes a special kind of person to experience one's own death and not go insane. How, indeed, to find such a person to unlock the riddles of the maze?
(see the rest at Galactic Journey