Up the Walls of the World

I am continuing my way through old science fiction as I look to lower the number of books I own to what fits on existing shelves (this will take forever).  Up the Walls of the World is by James Tiptree, Jr. which is a pseudonym for Alice Bradley Sheldon.  According to Wikipedia, Tiptree’s true identity (and sex) was revealed in 1977.  Up the Walls of the World, by James Tiptree, Jr.  was published in 1978 and the author’s photo is on the back of the dust jacket.  Presumably the pen name was retained to attract existing fans.

The most interesting thing about this book is how much a central concept has in common with the primary plot of Star Trek the Motion Picture.  An extremely large space faring entity absorbs a Voyager spacecraft and poses a threat to life.  The female lead merges with the entity as part of the solution.

Another similarity is the book seems to go on and on in an effort to describe the entity with the same effect as the endless trip through V’ger in the movie.  That effect being the reader’s (viewer’s) thought “Can we get on with this?”.

The movie is just one year after the book so clearly the movie did not steal the plot directly.  Over at IMDB, the trivia on the movie includes:

Writers who contributed ideas or draft scripts in 1975-77 included Gene Roddenberry, Jon Povill, Robert Silverberg, John D.F. Black, Harlan Ellison, Theodore Sturgeon, and Ray Bradbury.

One might posit that one or more of these authors knew Tiptree and was made aware of the outline of her current work.  But Tiptree’s identity was unknown and Silverberg and Ellison were both on the record with their belief that Tiptree was a man.  Perhaps Up the Walls of the World was an expansion of an earlier short work by Tiptree.

Other than the Star Trek “connection”, Up the Wall of the World is not all that interesting.

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