The Rock of Three Planets

What to look for, text to accompany this post, great read to share
What to look for, text to accompany this post, great read to share

Lisa and I share an interest in the long-lost and the newly lost novel of prized genres: science fiction, circa 1911 American popular culture, Bobbsey Twins and the like in the unexpurgated original, pulp mysteries of the 1940 and 50’s written by forgotten giants, such as Cornell Woolrich. I could continue the inventory categories but you’re better served by stopping by to browse our bookshelves, to discover the unexpected titles on book spines with faded or striking illustrations. Should you encounter a loose copy of Penrod and Sam let us know. But let’s consider a recent emergent from the stacks, a youth-oriented novel (part of a trilogy even) from 1963 by A.M. Lightner: The Rock of Three Planets.

 

We frequent a library discard sale of the best-kept-secret-kind: the bimonthly  Campbell County Library Friends of the Library Discard Sale. This volume lay undiscovered among its fellow book travelers in the youth section of the sale. As is material for legend, Lisa’s eye is ever alert for the unrecognized endangered species of collectable. You’ll want to clamor for her secret power, but its a day for Ms. Lightner.

You may already wax familiar with an internet niche site that offers used copies of The Rock of:

The Amazons

You don’t always expect to find a jaw-droppingly good cult classic text among your 50-cent purchases, but this one does drop such a jaw. 1963 cover art of rare device, circulation pocket holding a card for dated rubber stamps, another page for more rubber stamps. Hey, this is the property of the Third District School Library in Covington KY and it was rebound by New Method Book Bindery. Library volume 5944.

OK Bill, you pedant. What about the story, tell us about the story.

I’ve just reread this book blurb and now realize that the last sentence contains an enormous SPOILER ALERT. If you don’t want to have the ending irrevocably spoiled, consider this a cautionary.

A thumbnail sketch of our characters. You'll get to know them well by the end of the book. Count them among your friends and join the cult following.
A thumbnail sketch of our characters. You’ll get to know them well by the end of the book. Count them among your friends and join the cult following. Keywords: rock, three, planets.

This book was published at a time in my life when science fiction opened avenues of wonder upon discovering science fiction magazines in the year it appeared. Lightner’s perspective appeals to me on just such a personal level. Lisa read it first, she kept encouraging to just read the dang thing and see how great a book we owned. Well the cover struck me right away, only upon reading though did I discover how well the illustrator captured the essence of this novel. It takes place at a crucial point in the plot. As Lisa noted the action only really gets underway in the second half, but does it get going. Yes, it gets going. The rock as character bonds with the reader, becoming a real pal upon introduction. This is not something you expect immediately from a rock of several origins but the creäture residing within its shell stays in memory. The author balances her characters deftly and with ingenuity. The book is peopled with characters you care about. The language does not condescend to a younger audience, it challenged my vocabulary. A whole-heart approval, worth the sticker shock.

Cult classics arise from the grass-roots, no exception with Rock since genuine enthusiasm is contagious, so if you’ve ever visited Google you might find points of departure and encouragement from Lightner’s fans. I offer a single warning: beware the spoiler.

Now that your appetite is whet consider that trilogy I mentioned earlier, or explore the internet, your local or non local library perhaps. We may just see you there. Just saying.

 

 

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