Ten From Infinity is Paul W. Fairman’s take on one of the classic themes of science fiction, aliens walking among us undetected. From novels such as Heinlein’s The Pupper Masters to films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers this has been one of the recurring ideas that has kept people up late at night with paranoid phantasies. A staple of early science fiction television series such as the Twilight Zone it even cropped up in an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
What were the roots of this idea, and why did it become so deeply entrenched in our psyche as to become a cliche? Certainly, the Cold War mentality of the 50’s and 60’s is partly to blame. Fear of infiltration by enemy spies and home grown sympathizers was part of the times when this novel was written. But before the “Red Menace” of the 50’s there were Nazi agents before and during World War II and German spies and saboteurs during World War I. The term “fifth column” for a group that seeks to bring down a state from inside dates back to a work by Ernest Hemingway. So the idea of spies, and infiltrators and sympathizers has been around a long time.
But I think there is an older, darker root to the concept of strangers hiding among us that causes us so much unease. Shapeshifters, were-creatures, and the like are ideas that are as old as folklore goes. No man can really know what is neighbor is thinking. It doesn’t take much to imagine plots hiding behind an outwardly friendly face. And if a man is plotting against you, is he really a man? Or is it some sort of devil in disguise? Or an alien?
But it’s not just the aliens masquerading as humans that you need to worry about. You also need to keep an eye on those who because of greed or lust for power would risk the destruction of the commons for their own selfish gain. This is the real lesson to draw from Ten From Infinity.
As an aside, this novel was originally published under the pseudonym of Ivar Jorgensen, a name that Fairman used for several of his works. Ivar Jorgensen was also used by Randall Garrett on a number of occasions. As Garrett regularly contributed to Amazing Stories and Fantastic while Fairman was editor this is perhaps not surprising.
I think that Ten From Infinity has stood the test of time. Or maybe we are just as paranoid as we were in the 50’s and 60’s. In any case, Resurrected Press is happy to bring this novel to you for your enjoyment.