Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Unending Night — 1964 novel by George H. Smith about thermonuclear disaster on Mars

The Unending Night (1964), a novel by American science fiction writer George H. Smith in which a runaway chain reaction in a thermonuclear plant on Mars disrupts the basic unity of the solar system!

Pictured: Paperback original (Derby, Conn.: Monarch Books, 1964) 128 pages, 40¢. Cover painting by Ralph Brillhart. Here's the promotional piece from the back cover:

It all started with a runaway chain reaction in a gigantic thermonuclear power plant on Mars, where Earth’s surplus population was trying to establish new elbow room.

Then came the horrendous explosion and, without warning, the basic unity of the solar system was disrupted. Mars moved toward Earth to exert tremendous new gravitational pressures on it.

Phoebus and Demos, Mars’ two tiny moons, were caught and pulled apart by this new influence, breaking up into large segments and falling to Earth as giant meteors. Thousands of fires raged; tidal waves swept inland; earthquakes shook the planet!

And still Mars moved closer and closer, until it was a ball of blood in the heavens, three times the size of the moon. Truly it looked as if the end of the world had come!

According to a biographical sketch included in The Unending Night, author George H. Smith (1922-1996) was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi and graduated from the University of Southern California. He spent much of his life in the Golden State and worked as a bank teller and furniture store manager before pursuing a career as a writer. During World War II, Smith served with the Navy in the South Pacific. One of his longtime hobbies was collecting military miniatures.

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