Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Horror In The Skies

I had never even heard of this 1963 science fiction novel by J. Hunter Holly until its amazing cover popped up as the March illustration on a wall calendar I have hanging in my work cubicle. I loved the evocative art so much that I had to track down THE FLYING EYES, if only to find out whether what's depicted actually occurs in the book. Surprisingly, it does.

Holly was Joan Holly, who probably used the pseudonym to disguise her gender from readers and/or publishers, who may not have been interested in pulp fiction written by a woman. Holly, whose real name was Joan Carol Holly, wrote a handful of novels and short stories during the 1960s and 1970s, including a MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. novelization. She died in 1982.

THE FLYING EYES is set in a college town that is attacked by an army of--well, like the title says--flying eyes that come out of the sky and hypnotize the townspeople, a few at a time. Those who succumb are marched into the woods and down into a deep black pit for who knows what insidious purpose.

The hero is a scientist, Lincoln Hosler, who lives with his colleague and only friend, Wes. Linc has little use for friends or even other people for that matter, though he does have a crush on his and Wes' friend Kelly.

Linc and Wes, in their quest to discovering the power of the eyes (which grow as large as ten feet in diameter and float around the town), manage to capture one, cage it, and take it to their lab, where they train themselves to resist its hypnotic pull. Eventually, Linc manages to disguise himself as a victim and venture into the pit, where he discovers the eyes belong to large, slimy, blobby aliens that have come to Earth in order to invade it, wipe out mankind, and live here.

THE FLYING EYES is junky sci-fi for sure, but not unambitious. It runs less than 140 pages, but still manages to give Linc a true dramatic arc. His characterization is not complex, but it is there.

The book's biggest draw is its premise, which had me eager to discover what the hell was up with those eyes and who they belonged to. THE FLYING EYES isn't deep literature, but a quick entertainment read.

No comments: