I have just finished re-reading a couple of books by Julian May. The books have the general title of “Intervention” and were published as two separate volumes titled “Surveillance” (1987) and “Metaconcert” (1987). May is also the author of “The Saga of the Pliocene Exile” series. There is a very good chance that I shall re-read that very soon.
“The Saga of the Pliocene Exile” predates “Intervention” in publication and includes four novels: “The Many Colored Land” (1981), “The Golden Torc” (1982), “The Nonborn King” (1983) and “The Adversary” (1984). She added “Jack the Bodiless,” “Diamond Mask” and “Magnificat” to her creation around 1992. I’ll have to see if I can get a hold of those three.
Julian May was born on July 10, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois, and died on October 17, 2017. Her parents were Matthew M. May (Majewski) and Julia Feilen May. She was the oldest of four children.
May became involved in science fiction in her late teens. She sold her first professional short story, “Dune Roller,” in 1950 to John W. Campbell’s Astounding Science Fiction. It was later (1972) made into the movie “The Cremators.”
May met her husband, Ted Dikty, in 1951 at a convention in Ohio. They married in January of 1953. She sold one more short story, “Star of Wonder,” to Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1953 and dropped out of science fiction for a while.
During that time, May wrote science encyclopedia articles for Consolidated Book Publishers. In 1957, May and her husband founded a production and editorial service for small publishers, Publication Associates.
With a move to Oregon in the early 1970s, she began to reacquaint herself with the world of science fiction. Over the years, she used a number of pen names: Bob Cunningham, Judy Dikty, Lee N. Falconer, John Feilen, Wolfgang Amadeus Futslogg, Matthew G. Grant, Granny Roseboro, Ian Thorne, Jean Wright Thorne, George Zanderbergen and The Editors of Creation.
Writing as Ian Thorne, she novelized several movie screenplays: The Blob (1982), The Deadly Mantis (1982), It Came from Outer Space (1982), Frankenstein Meets Wolfman (1981), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1981), The Mummy (1981), Frankenstein (1977), Dracula (1977) and The Wolf Man (1977).
Her understanding of the global politics during the time that “Intervention” was supposed to have taken place (“Surveillance” begins in 1945 and “Metaconcert” ends in 2013 with the epilogue ending in 2113) is comprehensive and made it all seem very real. Unfortunately for my husband, he was a bit turned off by all the time she spent discussing international relationships. And while I did appreciate the research that went into it, I think that May went on a bit long about it in certain places. I stayed with it, though, because of the overall quality of the writing and my interest in the story. It had been so long since I had first read it that I had very little memory of how it all played out.
“Surveillance” is basically about the evolution of mankind’s higher mind powers and its inclusion into galactic civilization. She takes many different viewpoints throughout the two books. It is written in the “present” and also as a memoir of one of the main characters. May makes little side trips to the aliens who have been observing humanity and shepherding it. These are fairly amusing from time to time and one can only wish that any aliens that might possibly be out there observing us right now would look upon us as fondly (or at least with the same amusement) as May’s aliens do.
Even though the point of view does hop around a bit, May still manages to keep it all under control and eminently understandable. I never lost track or had to backtrack to get my bearings as happens in some novels I have read. Her list of characters is quite large, but they are presented in such a way that you have no trouble remembering who is who and what part they are playing. May writes skillfully and seems always to keep the needs of the reader in mind.
Even if you are not a fan of science fiction, you might find these two books interesting. May looks at familial relationships, religion’s role in life, ethnicity and how it shapes how we see the world and many other issues that relate to all of humanity and not just those possessed of psychic talents.
I’ve given away a lot of books over the years. But these two will stay in my book case forever.