Charles L. Harness

Easton Press Charles L. Harness books

The Paradox Men - Masterpieces of Science Fiction - 1992

Charles L. Harness biography

Charles Leonard Harness was an American science fiction writer and patent attorney, born on December 29, 1915, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and passing away on September 20, 2005. Harness led a fascinating life, seamlessly blending his talents as both a lawyer and a science fiction author. Harness earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 1937 and later pursued a law degree at George Washington University, graduating in 1940. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a technical intelligence officer. Harness's diverse educational background and military experience provided a unique foundation for his future endeavors. In the post-war years, Charles L. Harness began a successful career as a patent attorney, specializing in intellectual property law. His legal expertise allowed him to contribute significantly to the field of science and technology. Concurrently, Harness cultivated a parallel passion for science fiction writing.

Harness made his debut in the world of speculative fiction with the short story Time Trap, which appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in 1948. His writing often explored complex scientific concepts and philosophical themes, distinguishing him as a prominent figure in the genre. Notably, his novel The Paradox Men (1953) showcased his ability to interweave intricate ideas with compelling storytelling. One of his most acclaimed works is the novel The Rose (1966), which earned him a nomination for the Nebula Award. This thought-provoking piece delves into the nature of reality and consciousness, demonstrating Harness's ability to tackle profound philosophical questions within the framework of science fiction.

Charles L. Harness's literary contributions earned him recognition among both readers and peers. His stories stood out for their intellectual depth and originality, exploring the boundaries of human understanding and the implications of scientific advancements. Although he did not produce a large volume of work compared to some of his contemporaries, Harness's impact on the genre remains significant. Charles L. Harness's legacy extends beyond his written works; he served as an inspiration to aspiring science fiction writers and left an indelible mark on the intersection of science and speculative fiction. His ability to blend his legal acumen with a creative imagination exemplifies the multidimensional nature of his life and career.

The Paradox Men

The Paradox Men is a science fiction novel by Charles L. Harness, his most famous single novel and his first. Initially published as a novella, Flight into Yesterday, in the May 1949 issue of Startling Stories, it was republished as The Paradox Men in 1953. The "science-fiction classic" is both "a tale dominated by space-opera extravagances" and "a severely articulate narrative analysis of the implications of Arnold J. Toynbee's A Study of History." Boucher and McComas described it as "fine swashbuckling adventure ... so infinitely intricate that you may never quite understand what it's about." P. Schuyler Miller described it as "action-entertainment, fast-paced enough that you don't stop to bother with inconsistencies or improbabilities."

Alar the Thief cannot remember his past or how he came to have psychokinetic powers or whether he was sent to preserve or destroy the totalitarian government that rules 2177 Earth.

The Paradox Men is a science fiction classic of its kind and a full-blooded adventure story of derring-do and distressed damsels, set after the Third Great War when North and South America are united into one Imperial America. A slave state run by a small noble elite who flaunt their wealth by using, and abusing, the one commodity that only the rich can human labour. But working underground, persecuted by the police, is an organization dedicated to the overthrow of government and the existing way of life and the establishment of freedom'. 'The Society of Thieves was the only organization that flouted authority in America they robbed the rich to buy freedom for the slaves. They were well equipped and trained for their job and had friends and informers in high places ready to reveal where the wealth of the nobles was hidden. And Alar was the best Thief of them all for he had senses not found in ordinary men, senses that accurately warned him when danger was near. But Alar had amnesia and did not know his true identity though sometimes he sensed that there was a purpose in his actions that was not entirely his own volition. When Keiris, wife of the Imperial Chancellor saw him, she sensed that he was something special and helped him to elude pursuit even though it put her own life in danger. And in trips to the Moon and even the Sun itself, Alar begins to see what part he is destined to play in the struggle for men's freedom.

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