|I’d never heard of the book or the author before receiving this as a Christmas present so I didn’t know what to expect, except that it was one of the Gollancz ‘SF Masterworks’ series which gives some indication of quality. In this novel, there is an interstellar war going on between humanity (Terrans) and the alien Sirians. This war has been going on a long time over many star systems. All of that is background scene setting that has almost nothing to do with the story.
Wasp is a fascinating read, very different to anything else I’ve read. While the setting and backplot make this science fiction, the Sirians are basically the same as humans except for some superficial cosmetic differences. It is clever, and quite funny in places too. It is also, quite a short – approx 180 pages – easy read.
This is quite a little known book outside of SF fandom. In the book’s introduction it is suggested that it would have been more popular (including nearly being turned into a film) but for the fact that it could be argued that it promotes terrorism because of the mayhem – and yes, some killing – Mowry causes behind enemy lines. I get the point, but there is no mindless bombing of innocent people, gunning down of pedestrians or anything like that. Most of what he does is as physically harmless as spreading propaganda, and the killing he does do is generally criminals and secret police. I can see why in the current climate it isn’t going to be hugely popular, but it is a funny and enjoyable read nonetheless.