Friday, December 27, 2013

The Big Eye: Review

We scientists have been responsible for many of the world's ills for a longtime. We've failed to understand that science moves fast, it is revolutionary, while the human mind is slow, evolutionary. As a result, we have a gap of thousands of years between scientific achievement and the human capacity to use it wisely. ~Dr. Dawson (p. 144)

The Big Eye was written by Max Ehrlich in 1949 about the future...the near-future of 1960.  In Ehrlich's vision, mankind has learned very little from the two world wars of its recent past--even less than we who have survived the '60s (and '70s and '80s and...).  The Cold War has resulted in everyone having a piece of the atomic action and Russia and the United States are playing a nervous game to see who will drop the bomb first.  It isn't a matter of "if," but "when."  

Dr. David Hughes is a young astronomer sent by his boss Dr. Dawson to meet with the top US officials in an effort to determine if it is in the nation's best interest to be the first to launch the attack.  At the last minute, Hughes is called to return to the Palomar Observatory where Dawson has made a discovery that will change everything.  The days of the Earth are numbered.  A rogue planet, "Planet Y" is speeding through the galaxy on a collision course with Earth.  A collision that will take place in exactly two years on Christmas day 1963.  Dawson has gathered the world's astronomer's to verify his calculations and they make the terrifying announcement to the people of Earth.

In the wake of the horrible news, David finds some happiness with the woman he loves; and, ironically, the world is able to settle its differences creating a world at peace with the problems of war, hunger, and even cancer solved in the shadow of doomsday.  When Christmas 1963 comes, David and Carol go out into the open (along with most of the citizens of Earth) to face The Big Eye (as Planet Y has been named) and meet their doom.  What happens next is not a miracle, but a very believable twist that brings the story to a very satisfying conclusion.

This was a decent look at what a writer who has just been through World War II saw as the near-future of the 1960s.  The basic story line was interesting and believable--although the viewpoint is old-fashioned and somewhat preachy (particularly as viewed from the 21st Century).  I like the idea that mankind when faced with a common threat might actually pull itself together and look beyond our petty fears and disagreements--it would be nice if we could that act together without a catastrophic event looming over us..... Three and a half stars.

*Since the story begins and ends on Christmas, I'm totally counting this for the Christmas Spirit Challenge as well as others.  

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