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A Mirror for Observers

A Mirror for Observers In their attitude towards the Planet Earth the Martians had long been divided into two camps the Observers benevolent meddlers in human affairs the rebellious Abdicators who sought the Earth s coll

  • Title: A Mirror for Observers
  • Author: Edgar Pangborn
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 435
  • Format: Paperback
  • In their attitude towards the Planet Earth, the Martians had long been divided into two camps the Observers, benevolent meddlers in human affairs the rebellious Abdicators, who sought the Earth s collapse But it wasn t until the extraordinary matter of the Earth Boy, Angelo Pontevecchio, that the enmity between these two factions came to a definite head It starteIn their attitude towards the Planet Earth, the Martians had long been divided into two camps the Observers, benevolent meddlers in human affairs the rebellious Abdicators, who sought the Earth s collapse But it wasn t until the extraordinary matter of the Earth Boy, Angelo Pontevecchio, that the enmity between these two factions came to a definite head It started as a contest of wills, waged between two opposing Martians for the soul of a single human child Before the end, it threatened all life on both Earth Mars.Cover art by Richard Powers.

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    1 thought on “A Mirror for Observers

    1. A Mirror for Observers: Aliens battle for the soul of a young manOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureIt's somewhat surprising that this 1954 International Fantasy Award winner has never found a very large audience in the SF genre. The writing style is reminiscent of Theodore Sturgeon or Ray Bradbury, very much focused on the characters and their inner thoughts and struggles, a big contrast with the more pulpy science and space-adventure tales featured in magazines like Galaxy and Astounding. [...]

    2. I originally picked this book up because it appears in David Pringle's overview book "Sci Fi: The 100 Best Books." Now that I've read it, I can see why it was included. This is a terrific, beautifully written, literate sci-fi novel, with dozens of passages so quotable that you may feel the need to underline or highlight them. In this book, Martians have been living on Earth for thousands of years in hidden underground cities. For the most part, they are benevolent observers of human affairs, but [...]

    3. ‘In a small Massachusetts town two Martians, disguised as human beings, are locked in a bitter struggle for the mind of a child genius. There are other prizes too. The battle is long and bloody, and before its end all life on earth is threatened. This is engrossing science fiction which displays a passionate respect for the human race.’ Blurb from the 1966 Penguin Paperback edition. This very individual novel (in that it tends not to embrace the usual SF conventions) takes the premise that t [...]

    4. nhwvejournal/475867ml[return][return]First published in 1954, set in 1963 and 1972, so as usual we can be slightly amused about predictions made about the future which is now the past. But actually this is a rather gripping book. There is a small group of Secret Guardians keeping watch over humanity's scientific and moral development (they happen to be from Mars but that is almost incidental). There is a renegade faction that wants to wipe out (most of) humanity to make Earth their own. For reas [...]

    5. Very well done and very low-key sf from the fifties. There is as much discussion of classical music as there is action, and yet the novel includes a cataclysmic world event. The Martian narrator is a believable character, a being that can't help but be affected by those he is here to observe. The "mirror" conceit that is supposed to play some central role in the imagery is probably the weakest aspect of the story. I never got a clear notion of what was revealed when the right person looked into [...]

    6. It's somewhat surprising that this 1954 International Fantasy Award winner has never found a very large audience in the SF genre. The writing style is reminiscent of Theodore Sturgeon or Ray Bradbury, very much focused on the characters and their inner thoughts and struggles, a big contrast with the more pulpy science and space-adventure tales featured in pulp magazines like Galaxy and Astounding.I knew about A Mirror for Observers only because it was included in David Pringle's Science Fiction: [...]

    7. Delicate, subtle, compassionate, thoughtful and thought-provoking - Pangborn uses his setting of Martian "observers" to explore various themes of humanity and its capacity for both positive and negative actions, and how the process of study itself generates change in both the the observer and subject. It was written in 1954, so the language and style might be a tad formal for a modern audience, but it is a true classic of science fiction.

    8. This is probably one of my favourite books. It manages to be simultaneously depressing and gloriously uplifting both on the small and large scale. (And also contains one of the best ever comments: he 'was amused by the thin wind of fallacy that blew through the unsanitary beard of Marx.' I should read Pangborn more often.)

    9. An earnest, somewhat dated book. I’m not big on the elitist idea that creative people are more important, in the scheme of things, than non-creative, so that aspect rankled me a bit. Nice writing in places, though.

    10. Edgar Pangborn was one of the better science fiction writers of the fifties and sixties, his works, like those of Theodore Sturgeon, being more humane, more heartfelt than most.

    11. A beautifully written novel with a real love for people and the Earth. The plot even has some unexpected twists which I found pleasing. The problem for me, of course, is the politics. I know this novel emerges from a cold war culture of knee-jerk anti-communism. The narrator's blurring of political ideologies by the twice-repeated "communazis" can perhaps be read as a statement on the lack of defining differences between totalitarian tendencies of the left and of the right in the context of 3000 [...]

    12. I re-read this for the first time in many years, after noticing that I had a trade paperback edition on my shelf with an afterword by Peter Beagle. Basically, it's one of his favorite books, and I remembered it fondly, but not at that level, so I took another look.For a book written in the 1950s, it has a remarkable number of components that are applicable to today's problems.The basic premise is that, many years ago, Mars was a dying planet. Part of the population of that planet came to Earth, [...]

    13. Two Martians battle for the soul/potential of a young boy. One sees in him the potential for a good, productive and happy life, while the other sees a tool that he can use to bring about the end of mankind. Perhaps each side is seeing more of their own hopes and desires reflected in the mirror of their observations. The battle expands from the small town of Latimer, Mass to take on a global dimension.A bit preachy at times, but an excellent book. The author shows that good and evil is not simply [...]

    14. This story is told with uncommon introspection by a very humane Martian, in first person perspective. You see, the Martians have been living here secretly amongst us for 30,000 years, the reasons not fully spelled out - but apparently they terribly messed up their own planet. They are forbidden to interfere even as they watch us as a species also mess up. But there are a few renegade Martians out to manipulate humanity for their own ends, and those must be stopped. Out in the world then, our Mar [...]

    15. There are some excellent reviews of this book here already, and I will try not to duplicate them too much.I think of this as a "bleeding heart liberal" sci-fi book. For the depiction of good and evil, the care and concern given the protagonists who are poor, the emphasis on the value of classical education, and for the general out of datedness of the phrase bleeding heart liberal itself. Don't even bother picking this up if you're not inclined in that direction, this will just annoy you.Much of [...]

    16. Il problema di buona parte dei romanzi di fantascienza è che invecchiano in maniera disarmonica. In questo caso, con un "futuro" che è già passato e, fortunatamente, disatteso, rimane il nucleo di una bella storia tradita nella traslazione e nella traduzione. A cominciare dal titolo italiano, privo di senso, che usando comunque la parola "specchio" perde l'ambiguità dell'originale in cui "Lo specchio per gli Osservatori" può essere sia l'antico manufatto minoico dai poteri magici che compar [...]

    17. The Martians is watching our planet closely, for a long time. There are two kinds of them. The Observers, who love humans and are trying to help in a time of ordeal, and the Abdicators, who hate and detest us with every fiber of their beings. One of the observers, name of Elmir is sent to earth to find a brilliant boy, Angelo. Elmir wants to seek in Angelo’s behavior all the good, kindliness and love humans can have. At the same time one of the abdicators, Namir flied to Earth to kill Angelo. [...]

    18. I picked this up at a bookstore attached to my local library on a whim for $.50, and I'm pretty damn happy I did. Not the story I thought it would be, and if Pangborn does have a tendency to be overly sentimental, I found myself agreeing with the author in the Afterword in saying that I preferred it here than the opposite. Pangborn is a humanist through and through, and the tragedy of the story is sold in the little details. It works, very effectively.Smart and heartfelt - plus I really dig the [...]

    19. Seit mehr als 30.000 Jahren lebt unbemerkt von der Menschheit der Rest der marsianischen Rasse auf der Erde in unterirdischen und unterseeischen Städten, nachdem der Mars für sie unbewohnbar geworden ist.Sändig beobachten sie die Entwicklung der Menschheit, bis sie eine Kulturstufe erreicht hat, bei der sich beide Rassen ohne Probleme eine friedliche Koexistenz auf der Erde aufbauen können. Ein Abtrünniger fördert jedoch zynisch die Selbstzerstörung der Menschheit, weil er nicht an eine f [...]

    20. É um clássico, é uma história interessante, mas não é uma escrita que me deixe entusiasmada. Foi uma leitura lenta e penosa apesar de ser o tipo de história de que gosto muito. Creio que o meu maior problema foi de facto achar o ritmo da história um pouco lentoAqui temos os marcianos divididos em dois grupos: os observadores e os Abdicators. Assistimos assim a um debate entre dois lados.

    21. The writing is glorious! Billed as Science Fiction, it is actually a marvelously rich and poetic study of art, music, philosophy, ethics and the transformation from childhood to maturity - of Life.And isn't that what Science Fiction should be?

    22. Found this book in my great-grandmother's stash and enjoyed the hell out of it. Awesome read, and very thought provoking.

    23. While it had a handful of 5 star moments, I still never was able to get into it and it became a struggle to finish. Glad I read it, but won't be repeating it

    24. I read this book as a teenager and had to buy a new copy when the paperback copy fell apart. I don't recall how many times I've read it, but I will add one more in the near future.

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