Last week I reviewed Wasp by Eric Frank Russell, a British post-WWII science fiction author. Wasp was included in Entities: The Collected Novels of Erik Frank Russell, and I've been gulping down the rest of the collection as quickly as I can.
Wasp was hilarious.Next of Kin is prophetic in its echoes of Catch-22, published 3 years later.
It's an irreverent howl at officialdom. John Lemming is a skilled space pilot, one of the few types allowed a bit of craziness in a military force that seems eerily familiar. The work opens as he steps into the office of a Fleet-Admiral with his fly open. He never gives up railing against injustice, on the grand and the petty scale. Luckily for our side, he becomes a prisoner of war and is able to exercise his talents for good.
I never would have guessed where this ended up going - very funny. Good clean fun too, reminiscent of Heinlein juveniles (before he got into the polyamory thing). Straightforward enough that I was comfortable recommending this to my husband, whose latest read was Duel of Eagles, and who goes in for adventure stories and car magazines.
It's clear to me now that Russell was one of the most influential British SF writers of his generation, right up there with Aldiss and Wyndham. How did I not know about this guy? I thought I had exhausted the ranks of lantern-jawed, soap-and-brandy-smelling, no-nonsense adventure SF writers of that era. After all, I read my way through two fairly complete antiquated SF libraries - my dad's, and my high school's. I am so glad to learn I was wrong.