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August 2003
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Sam Woke

Fury, by Henry Kuttner, was serialised in ASF (Astounding Science Fiction) in May, June, and July of 1947. There was a British SFBC hardcover edition in 1955. I don't know of any later editions. The epilog is a staple of SF trivia quizzes.

The book is intensely colorful, has many interesting characters, and many interesting observations on society, on what it is like to be a long lifer, and on the limitations of prescience. Helluva good read.

Kuttner did one other story in this setting, a novella entitled "Clash by Night", which is also very readable.


Part I

The story is set on a jungle Venus; Earth was wiped out in a nuclear war. The remnants of humanity are settled in undersea domes on Venus. There are 48 of them, named after the 48 states (as of the writing.) The title, Fury, refers both to the mainland of Venus and to the lead character Sam Reed.

One of the byproducts of the holacaust was a mutation for longevity. The undersea society of Venus is dominated by the "immortals" who have life spans of 200-700 years. The Harkers and the Waltons are two of the important longtermer families. Zachariah Harker was the grandfather of Blaze Harker. Blaze was married to Bessie; they begot a son and Bessie died in childbirth. Blaze was unstable; he took revenge on his son by having him surgically and biochemically disguised to look like a short timer and places him a short timer family where he (Sam) can't be found by his relatives. Sam (nee Harker) grows up as a plebian Sam Reed.

Sam Reed is the man of fury. He becomes a member of the criminal underworld (Venusian society is on the decadent side) and eventually makes contact with elite of society.

One of the important factors of the society is that time is running out -- the supply of radioactives that power the undersea domes will be gone in some hundred of years. Before that happens Humanity must go landside. However the effort will be very difficult and expensive; humanity is putting off making the effort and, it is clear, will continue to do so until it is too late.

Sam falls in with the last free companion, Robin Hale, and concocts a monumental fraud to pretend to colonize land side. He oversells the participation with the expectation that when the effort collapses he will keep the proceeds. In the course of doing this he has an affair with Kedre Walton, one of the immortals, who is the sometimes lover of Zachariah Harker. Someone dream dusts him. (Dream dust puts you in a near permanent state of drug induced dreams; Venusiam society is big on exotic drugs.)

Part II

80 years later Sam wakes up with no assets except his land grant. He realizes that, somehow, he is or has become a long lifer. He doesn't worry too much about this, but proceeds to claw his way up again. He disguises himself as his son, Joel Reed, makes contact with the last free companion, and starts a new land side project.

In the course of this, he has various conflicts with the ruling immortals, is revealed to be Sam, convinces the public that they can be immortal too if they come land side as colonists, and, under cover of a rebellion of the colonists, radioactively contaminates the domes so that everyone has to come land side. He ends up as the dictator of Venus.

The Ending

Unknown to Sam, but known to the last free companion, there is a man who was immortal before Earth was destroyed who has the gift of prescience (if he doesn't interfere). In the end people rebel against Sam. However the prescient one (another name that escapes me) captures Sam, puts him to sleep, and stashes him away. Before Sam loses consiousness, he explains to Sam that Sam was needed but that his time is past, that now he is an impediment to the race, but that he is being saved in case humanity ever gets in another real pickle where someone with Sam's drive, energy, and talents is needed to set things right (for all of the wrong reasons, of course.)

The Epilog

... Sam woke.


This page was last updated August 1, 2003.

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