This is the 152nd in my series of Forgotten Books.
There was a time when Ron Hubbard was considered a very good writer of science fiction, fantasy, western, adventure and other types of pulp fiction. Then came the Dianetics and Scientology works and he entered into the religious field. Regardless of your opinions of his later efforts, his early writings contain some fine work.
I first read SLAVES OF SLEEP about 20 years ago and enjoyed it quite a bit. The other day I was looking for a new Forgotten Book and this one jumped up and said “ME! ME! ME!”
Never being one to refuse a book screaming to be read, I picked it up again. Instantly, I was back in its thrall. Jan Palmer is a young man who has a problem. He’s the head of a transportation company worth a lot of money and he has no interest in it at all. The business is run by his lawyer and business manager. Jan likes his books, boats and other stuff. He lives with his Aunt Ethel who respects the local mutts more than Jan.
When visited by Professor Frobish, Jan finds himself with a problem. Frobish recognizes a large brass jar in Jan’s home as a sealed bottle containing an Ifrit, a type of genii. Jan refuses to let Frobish examine the bottle, so Frobish breaks into Jan’s home at night and breaks the seal on the bottle, releasing the Ifrit, one Zongri. Zongri has been imprisoned for many thousands of years. At first, he promised himself that he would reward anyone who released him with incalculable riches. Then he promises revenge on the human race. Zongri kills Professor Frobish and curses Jan to a life of eternal wakefulness. When the police arrive, Jan’s story is met with derision and he finds himself facing murder charges. Unwilling to lie, he is universally despised.
The problems really escalate when he tries to sleep. Suddenly, Jan finds himself in a fantasy world where Ifrits flourish and he is known as a sailor named Tiger. He is in trouble in both worlds, facing certain death in either one. People from his Earth world seem to be prevalent in some form in the fantasy world. Living in both worlds, he gets no rest and is running ragged in both.
It’s not a great novel or an important one, but it is fun. Some of the characters are stereotypes but I found I could not stop reading and enjoying it. The paperback I was reading reprinted some of Edd Cartier’s illustrations from UNKNOWN magazine which are quite fun.
If this sounds like fun, check it out. There was a hardcover edition from Shasta Publications with a striking Hannes Bok cover. There is also a sequel MASTERS OF SLEEP which I have not read and cannot comment on. SLAVES has had several paperback editions, some in combination with the sequel. You might also check out THE ASTOUNDING, THE AMAZING, AND THE UNKNOWN by Paul Malmont which features Hubbard in a World War II adventure with Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and L. Sprague de Camp. It was quite a bit of fun, too.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.