Short Reviews – The Man the Sun Gods Made, by Gardner F. Fox

Friday , 12, January 2018 1 Comment

The Man the Sun Gods Made, by Gardner F. Fox appeared in the Winter 1946 issue of Planet Stories. It can be read here at Archive.org.

I don’t really need to go into what a legend Gardner F. Fox is, but I will remark that the man has shown impressive range in the few stories I’ve read.

Unlike Vassals of the Lodestar, which was a spectacular gonzo mess whose beauty lay in the audacious degree of non-sense it shrouded itself in, The Man the Sun Gods Made was a solidly written super-hero science fiction story. Many of this stories faults can easily be forgiven for genre reasons just as Vassals can be forgiven for the reason of its unblinking blitzkrieg into all-out absurdism.

The “Super-hero” part is important, I think, in understanding and approaching this story. Yes, it’s science fiction, in that it takes place on an alien world and involves an interstellar invasion, but the protagonist, Tyr, is superhero. He is a mutant who “evolved” (instantly, within a single generation) into an optimally efficient human whose entire physiology exists to metabolize and store sunlight and convert heat directly into cell-energy. He’s strong, he’s smart, he’s handsome, and the locals of his planet revere him as a god. As a character, he’s not far off from the scientists, soldiers and athletes who were granted similar powers by accidents of super-science—if you can avoid the nudnikery that makes one point out that the Hulk would’ve been killed by the atomic blast that turned him into the Hulk, you can swallow that this guy is able to get smarter and stronger when he absorbs sunlight through a process entirely unrelated to photosynthesis.

Tyr is worshipped by the people of Lyallar, but he is too smart and introspective to revel in his “godhood”. He understands that he’s different, but believes that he must be some different kind of life form rather than a god. He reluctantly accepts his role as benefactor and protector of the people who worship him, and when an alien invasion threatens his world, he gives it his all to try and protect his people. Except they are not his people. And they betray him. And his people are actually the aliens, the “ardth” who threaten to conquer and enslave Lyallar.

Strange tales of superscience!

There are some silly plot twists, including a bizarre Tarzanesque twist wherein Tyr is actually the mutant son of scientists from Earth who landed on Lyallar. The Solar empire is in decline because the superscience they used to create mini-suns to power their cities is failing, but Tyr’s strange mutation will allow him to get close enough to a star to harvest the necessary sun juices to replenish these mini-suns. With the help of a hawt scientist lady, Tyr is able to broker a peace between the people of Lyallar and the solar empire. The details of this peace are sketchy, and the “ardth” villain’s heel-face turn seems less than genuine, but it’s a more or less happy ending.

Also, you can’t tell by looking at her, but the lady in the space bikini is actually a brilliant biochemist who ends up being the Best Girl after the THOT who only cares about what jewels Tyr can get for her has convinced everyone that their “god” has betrayed them.

One Comment
  • Morgan says:

    Some of Gardner Fox’s stories from this period strain at the length constraints. “Vassals of the Lode Star” might have worked better as a short novel. I reread it last year and pieces seemed to be missing from the narrative.

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