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Design: Lawrence Ratzkin
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Out of all the Hoyle I've read - I liked this one best, and think it would be a good one to sample if you haven't read much by him. Set in 1970, time and events have taken a rather different path - but it still is a good read. This "Perennial Library" first printing from 1965 is actually the second paperback appearance - first pb was from Berkley in 1961.
Fred Hoyle's second novel (written in 1959): Ossian's Ride. I've read my copy and liked it, but too long ago to remember details. For a reasonable set-up or plot summary, I again rely on a review by my favorite reviewer:
"This second science-fiction novel by the rebellious English astronomer, one of the founders of the "continuous creation" theory of the Universe and author of "The Black Cloud," is head-and-shoulders over the first book as a story and a piece of writing. Its form is that of a spy story - the kind John Buchan did superlatively - and it could stand as such without its SF elements. What these all are I can't explain without giving away the final secret of the plot, though you may guess that well in advance.
By 1970, it seems, a mysterious industrial and technological force has dug itself into the southwest corner of Ireland, and thrown up a kind of "Shamrock Curtain" around itself, from which only rumors and faked "secrets" emerge. Whatever Industrial Corporation Eire may be, it is not only revolutionizing Irish economy but setting a technological pace that the rest of the world can't follow. One of the least of the Irish developments is a working hydrogen-fusion power plant; an early coup was the extraction of a contraceptive from good Irish turf.
At any rate, the outside world is curious, jealous and scared, and Thomas Sherwood, a young English physicist, is drafted by British Intelligence to get into the ICE territory and find out what is happening. To do this, he has not only to get past the ICE guards but to cope with the Irish government and with representatives of assorted busy and very ruthless organizations that have or want a finger in the pie.
There's a fine, drawn-out chase across the Irish countryside, peril aplenty, and final revelations that not only make sense but are integral to the working of the plot. Now Dr. Hoyle has his stride, I hope we'll have more from him." [-P. Schuyler Miller, from Analog February 1966]