SIN EATERSInvestigating an epidemic of deaths among the world s leading scientists Bill Graham learned their terrible discovery Earth was and had been for centuries controlled by aliens The alien energy beings fed on human emotions To cultivate their food they manipulated Earth affairs to create war and strife, the sources of the human fears and passions which the aliens cravedNow their machinations were leading up to a devastating world war They would feast finally on the self destruction of the human race Somehow Graham and a hand picked team of scientists had to stop the aliens before it was too late But even thinking about the enemy could bring death

10 thoughts on “Sinister Barrier

  1. V.W. Singer V.W. Singer says:

    Spoiler Alert no details, but the general plot features are discussed Before there was the Matrix or Aliens or even X Files and Fringe , there was Sinister Barrier the 1939 debut novel by Britis SF author Eric Frank Russell, a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.The author starts with the questions, If everyone wants peace, then why don t we get it and If there are aliens, why haven t they appeared yet The answer is even terrifying than Morpheus s answer to Neo in The Matrix Humans are cattle to an alien race, and have always been They share the world with us and feed off of our nervous energy, the intense the better, especially fear and anger.The enemy is not invisible, but simply exist in a frequency range that unaided human eyes cannot see And they can read our minds Anyone who even thinks about the possibility of their existence is doomed as soon as one of the aliens comes close enough to sense his or her thoughts.But as science progresses, an accidental discovery reveals their secret, even though the discoverers die like flies, one after the other But the secret spreads, and finally the truth is revealed.However, truth does not bring freedom Instead it brings doom Unable to hide any longer, the aliens, like any rancher faced with rebellious cattle, decides to wipe the human race out in a great feast of terror and agony.Merely being able to see the aliens is no help, since we, the humans, still cannot touch them All we can do is run and die.The story is told from the viewpoint of a pair of security agents, like Fox and Mulder, who are assigned to investigate the mysterious chain of deaths of prominent scientists.The book was written in 1939, so the language is reminiscent of a noir detective thriller of the period and may jar some modern readers, but the tone is not heavy or intrusive Given that it was before World War 2, the writer s future world is incredibly predictive.Police forensics are emphasised, using such things as 3D cameras and lasers to detect impressions in fibrous surfaces, telephones have video screens and conference speaker capabilities The most common vehicle is the gyrocycle, a fully covered, two wheel vehicle that can remain upright by itself, something that is actually in development right at this moment and is slowly coming to market Pistol bullets are segmentary similar to experimental frangible bullets of today.The book is an alien invasion, murder mystery, and horror story all in one and is the grandfather to all the iconic stories mentioned at the beginning.If you enjoy truly classic science fiction and a rousing thriller, read Sinister Barrier.

  2. Joshua Buhs Joshua Buhs says:

    Sinister Barrier was Russell s breakthrough, and probably the story for which he is still best known It takes as its starting point Charles Fort s musing that humans are property The owners end up being some blue orbs that feed on our various energies and read our minds killing those who it thinks are too close to understanding their status as sheep The sinister barrier of the title is the edge of the human visual spectrum as it turns out, the Vitons as they come to be called can only be seen by using techniques that allow the expansion of the visual spectrum The book is fine, the idea better than the actual execution There s an introduction in my edition, by Jack L Chalker, which excuses the dated science but that s not really the problem Indeed, the science is so dated it seems like science fiction More problematic is the breezy dialogue, steeped in 1940s era tough guy slang, and the ease with which everyone accepts the discovery and moves on from there The love story feels tacked on and not very motivated by love and especially trivial compared to the stakes so the main character wants to save humanity, and also get a date.To be fair, the first half of the book works well as a mystery, though there are too many red herrings, and too many leads that suddenly disappear, as though Russell were stretching things Needless chase scenes are not a new Hollywood invention The second half, in which the vitons are cast off, does not work nearly as well, though Russell does his best to maintain suspense Supposedly, he originally wrote a different, downbeat conclusion the one here is very happy and doesn t really fit the book s tone.

  3. Riju Ganguly Riju Ganguly says:

    This novel, like most works of Russell, is about humanity than the inhuman or non human perils that they face It s a thinly veiled exploration as well as exploitation of paranoia resulting from the cold war situation Basic question that it seeks to address is what would you do if you are surrounded, in fact controlled by invisible enemies Unfortunately, the protagonist goes for stock response like ray guns and such stuff But the book was enjoyable It had also inspired a Bengali work named by Adrish Bardhan, who had penned a Professor Nut Boltu Chakra story around it.

  4. Williwaw Williwaw says:

    I m hovering between 2 and 3 stars on this It would make a great and doubtless bad disaster movie The premise is that beings called Vitons are living off our negative emotions, and controlling our history to get the best possible harvest But we are unaware of them until a scientist in a technologically advanced future invents a way for humans to see wavelengths that are ordinarily invisible The scientist shares his knowledge with others before the Vitons destroy him The Vitons can read minds, so they pursue anyone else at first, only some fellow scientists who has obtained the forbidden knowledge that will make humanity aware of them.Anyway, the book was fun at the beginning, because it s unknown why prominent scientists are dying suddenly and violently There are great descriptions of these guys going up in balls of flame or plummeting from high rise windows Cities blow up, and World War III begins That s why this book is the perfect model for a mega disaster movie.A bit than half way through, the plot starts to drag Clearly, it s just a matter of time before humans figure out how to outwit the Vitons and then live happily ever after I should mention that the Vitons are floating blue spheres that can anchor themselves into our nervous systems and take nourishment Russell is constantly comparing this process to the milking of a cow.I was inspired to read this after learning that the book was originally presented as a serial in the legendary pulp magazine, Unknown, edited by John W Campbell The magazine only lasted about 4 years 1939 to 1943, I think , but it is credited with beginning a whole new tradition in modern fantasy writing Other works which appeared in Unknown include Jack Williamson s novel, Darker Than You Think, a book that brilliantly combines lycanthropy, anthropology and pseudo science for a surprisingly good story Leiber s first Grey Mouser story and several excellent but lesser known Heinlein stories I d love to lay my hands on a copy of Unknown, but the prices are beyond what I m willing to pay Sinister Barrier disappointed me It is, than anything, a disaster action novel In a way, it s in the tradition of H.G Wells s War of the Worlds, but the premise is that we have been unwittingly been dominated by an invisible species for the duration of our history All hell breaks loose when we discover our dominators I ll give Russell credit for the originality of his premise, and his decent prose The title of this book, however, suggests something creepy and insidious than what we get Instead, we get gratuitous violence like this He saw Sheehan, an operative, shove the muzzle of his gun straight into a slobbering mouth and let her blow Gobs of noggin, slop and goo flew in all directions as the headless victim toppled under his stamping feet If you re in the mood for a potboiler, this is the book for you.

  5. Michael Adams Michael Adams says:

    A decent old school sci fi adventure, but nothing exceptional I was interested in reading it since it was inspired by the work of Charles Fort The first third of the book plays out like a bit of murder mystery, with scientists mysteriously dying around the world, and from there the Fortean phenomena angle is revealed as seemingly unrelated pieces of information culminate in a revelation of planetary significance From there things escalate into a world war 3 scenario with a race to discovering a sort of silver bullet solution to the worlds problem Main problem with this book is how clunky the writing is, and the 1950 s gumshoe aesthetic of the dialogue doesn t help All in all I d only recommend this book to hardcore classic SF fans Not many others would enjoy this, despite the clever premise and potential it has.

  6. Colin Sinclair Colin Sinclair says:

    Enormous fun Great concept, well executed and rattles along at a brisk pace.Scientists are dying suicide, sudden heart attacks, horrible accidents and a government investigator looks into the deaths and discovers an awful truth that threatens the world Written in the late 1930s, so some of the phrasing is kind of wierd and things can get a bit clunky and overblown at times And then there s the appalling attitude to women on display Despite the faults, I enjoyed it a lot.

  7. Rod Pyle Rod Pyle says:

    50 years old and still creepy as hell

  8. JoeK JoeK says:

    I read somewhere that this story was the reason John W Campbell created a new fantasy companion magazine to Astounding While I can see the concepts are in some ways revolutionary for the time, I wasn t too happy with the execution I found the story ran a little long, and I was slow to finish it even though it wasn t all that long To some extent it may have been some dislike of the main protagonist who was alternately unrealistically intuitive, or recklessly stupid Specifically his attempted rescue of Hetty who was a puppet of the Vitons What could he hope to accomplish there Luckily Hetty blurts out key information and Graham escapes with only half a dozen other agents dying for the cause There could have been another way to get the info that would have made sense, but this is pulp and action must trump logic And as I m learning by reading the rest of the issue, Campbell is into high ESP mode, which didn t enhance my enjoyment either I read the Galaxy paperback version of this book which was updated for publication, but I did have access to the original pulp version and did a quick comparison between the two The original came out in 1939, but the novelization came out after WWII and Russell expanded it to include the use of nuclear weapons He obviously didn t know the true danger atomic bombs really posed Had the Vitons really gone whole hog like they did in the book, humanity would have died of radiation poisoning in months, thus destroying their food supply Russell also felt compelled to put a lot of the evidence for Vitons that inspired the novel I m sure that these were pulled from Charles Fort s work to help lend authenticity to the tale, it just slowed things down and didn t help convince me of the truth of the tale any than the rest of the book The same can be said of Graham s search for answers The first half of the book was a chase from one soon to be dead scientist to the next.The ending, while similar, was altered from the original I liked the new one better, but I found that Russell moved the mention of the sinister barrier to the beginning of the re print, and it seemed impactful in the original where it was mentioned on the last page and sort of underlined just what the barrier was.Finally, the cover of the pulp, while lovely, is barely related to the contents It seems like a yellow menace cover from one of the grisly pulps like Terror Tales The cover of the Galaxy novel while accurate, probably didn t help sell any extra copies of the story.

  9. Rita Rita says:

    So long as people insist on thinking with their glands, their bellies, their wallets or anything but their brains, they ll be dopey enough for anything, they ll fall for a Well Organized, persistent and emotional line of propaganda and make suckers of themselves every time Mark my words, young man, your first and most formidable obstacle will be provided by millions of emotional dimwits among your fellow beings The above quote could have been written about the GOP and tRumpsters.Eric Frank Russell was a follower of Charles Fort, a man who collected stories of the unexplained, and tried to make sense of them EFR founded the Fortean Society of Britain on Facebook, you can find The Fortean London Society, but I don t know if it s the same , and this story is his tongue in cheek attempt to explain the mysteries that take place, in this story, at least My most un favorite of EFR s work.

  10. Rob Rob says:

    A great science fiction read that has all the charm of classic science fiction like Asimov s , but with a very original premise and wonderful execution It actually feels like it was written in the 60s or 70s rather than the 40s.All the technology basically holds up much better than the majority of its peers The idea of a new take on War of the Worlds is excellent.In fact my only gripe with the book is that it does feel quite sexist, particularly as it finishes I definitely winced a few times while reading it but its a product of its time and among 1940s sci fi it s certainly a 5 star book.