|By Jerome Clark|
The bound proofs for Fred Nadis's The Man from Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey,to be published June 13 by Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, arrived today. I started reading it shortly thereafter and, unable to put it down, didn't stop, except for brief breaks, until I finished it a few minutes ago.
It is a splendid book, awash in fresh material and judicious insight. It challenges just about all conventional wisdom concerning Palmer, whom it treats sympathetically albeit without ignoring his flaws. One thing Nadis insists upon, surprisingly to me, is Palmer's basic sincerity. He may be the first writer ever to make Palmer's carnival-barker aspects the secondary part of the story. He does a remarkable job of getting inside Palmer's head and helping us to understand a man who so long has seemed something of a mystery.
There is also a fascinatingly full-bodied treatment of the pulp-SF world which the youthful Palmer helped create and which the old Palmer never entirely left behind. In many ways, that's the most engaging part of the book, at least to me, but Nadis will command your attention all the way through. I found myself struck by how much I didn't know about Palmer. I put down this lucidly written and always lively book knowing a lot more.
I will be writing separate extended reviews for Fate and Fortean Times after I've had more time to sort out my thoughts. In the meantime, I give this book my highest recommendation. It scores in all areas: research, analysis, style, fair-mindedness, resistance to hyperbole, a decent respect for its subject. It is clear that Ray Palmer has found the biographer he deserves.
* Special Thanks To Jerry Clark
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