Yargo by Jacqueline Susann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Yargo by Jacqueline Susann
Even though some of the science was bit out dated; when considering the time this was written it becomes less so in some respects and stands as an entertaining if perhaps light read that had a lot of potential to go much further than it did in a philosophical sense.
I'm not even sure how I came across this novel but I own a paperback version that was published somewhere in the late 70's and after Jacqueline's death.
At the time I wasn't much of a fan of romance novels and I wasn't sure what this was going to be like so it sat in a box with some other great finds.
The book itself was written in the early to mid 50's and may have been more appropriate for that time although it seems to have some influence from much earlier works. Jacqueline cites Ray Bradbury as an influence though this story reminded me more of the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs and it's interesting to note that Bradbury cited Edgar as one of his many inspirations and early influences.
The story of Yargo itself is interesting though it seems simplistic in many a sense. Janet Cooper is your average woman, educated just enough to find a job where she might find the man who might take her out of the job and give her a happy successful family life. This is about right for the 50's perhaps just a bit off for the 70's and it seems like a good place to measure the signs of the time. Janet does not seem quite as happy as she should be and so she does what any healthy person might do at that moment and tries to recapture the magic of her past and the happiness that comes with childhood. While on her nostalgic trip that turns out to be a bust when the magic of the vacations spot has been blighted by the progress of the times and is now slipped into the mundane, Janet makes a last visit to the beach before she says goodbye to her past and that's when she is abducted by aliens.
Her kidnap is an error; since the aliens are looking to kidnap a noted scientist and contemporary of Albert Einstein. Once they discover their error their own skewed logic demands that they can not return her to her home. Their goal was to convince this great mind of the scientist that nuclear tests were causing unusual activity on our sun and would accelerate its eventual growth to nova and the demise of the solar system. This part of the plot is a bit thin but it works mostly because the story has little much to do with that other than to serve as the means to get Janet in her predicament.(This could have developed differently had Jacqueline decide to show this issue being resolved somehow.)
Yargo is a planet in some far off place and the people of Yargoians appear to be physically perfect and their leader whose name is Yargo looks a lot like Yul Brynner only much taller. The Yargoian people are a race that at best might be compared to Star Trek's Vulcan. They seem to lack passion and emotion and this becomes extremely annoying to Janet. They also have a superior attitude that leads to them telling Janet that they will have to displace her from Earth and that they don't want her on their planet so they will try to pawn her off onto the Martians. (Now that they have Janet they don't feel she has the credentials to convey the important message to Earth and they don't want her telling Earth about them. They apparently feel they could trust the scientist to convey the message without compromising Yargoian secrecy.)
From the description given; the Martians are possibly like lizards and of course Janet would have to be housed underground, that's all contingent of the Martians agreeing to take her at all. Janet's other option is to be isolated on a ship that would have all her needs and would be orbiting some safe place where she would do no one harm. This all seems a bit odd especially coming from a race that seems to set itself in such a superior position. The Martians finally agree to take Janet who would just as soon return home.
On the journey back to the solar system and to Mars they are hijacked by some strange cigar shaped craft that seem to originate from Venus, which Yargo felt was an uninhabitable planet. The Venusian's are large bee like creature who we find out at one time looked more human than insect. The subsequent adventure is a bonding mechanism for Janet and her one Yargoian friend and the push to the real plot of this story.
This book has a lot of potential and even the seeming nonsense of the two races on Mars and Venus are not all that far off for the time when the author was writing this. I'm not sure how the stories potential for growth in Janet managed to get stifled almost as much as Janet's life seemed to be stifled. The picturing of Janet's life and her feeling almost of being trapped and wondering if marriage was going to help or make things worse was a great start and even the emotionless nature of the alien race was not all that far out so it must be that the reason that the final outcome skirts all of the important issues that are raised is partially another sign of the time that this was written in. Janet has set before her a few compelling examples of what life could be like if one could jump out of the paradigm of life on Earth. Though they lack the love and emotions the Yargoian's do seem to have some extra equality among men an women. You would think that Janet would try to put those thoughts to use even if she wants to preserve the loving caring emotional side of life. Perhaps though it is fitting for this story that she might fall short of completely cutting the strings of ingrained cultural influences.
This is a well written entertaining light SFF Romance adventure that might even qualify as good Young Adult Fiction.
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