The Bull's Hour


The Bull's Hour

"The Bull's Hour" (alternatively: "The Ox Hour") ( _ru. Час Быка, "Tcha's Byka' ") is a social science fiction novel written by Russian author and paleontologist Ivan Yefremov in 1968. It was banned in the Soviet Union six months after its publication and attempted to be taken out from all the libraries and bookshops throughout the country [" [http://www.efanzines.com/Mentor/TM80COMP.pdf The Mentor] ." (PDF)] when it was realized by the authorities to contain a sharp criticism of the current state of affairs in the USSR though pretending to be critical of Chinese brand of political communist system.

This novel is considered a sequel to the 1957 novel "", even though the cast of characters is entirely different, due to the occasional reference made to the previous volume. For example, the main character in "The Bull's Hour" is a female historian who on one occasion remembers most of the notable "Andromeda" characters as historical figures.

Plot summary

A futuristic Communnist Earth has just developed the faster-than-light travel based on the experiment of Ren Boz (described in "The Andromeda Nebula"). Using the new technology, Earth constructs "straight-beam" starships which travel by sliding on the edge between our Universe (Shakti) and the Anti-Universe (Tamas). The second ship of that kind, Dark Flame, departs from the Solar System on a mission to a habitable planet Tormance (the name is borrowed from David Lindsay's "A Voyage to Arcturus") in the Lynx constellation, which was reported by alien space voyagers from Cepheus to be colonized by humans, thought to be Earth escapees from the Age before World Unification.

The society of this distant planet is labelled by Efremov as an "Inferno" and "an amalgamation of a Capitalism in its worst form and of a Chinese pseudo-socialism" where ordinary workers's lives are limited to 26 local years ("short-living", KZI) while scientists, artists, sportists and other selected qualified professionals live longer ("long-living", DZI). Both KZI and DZI are under the ruthless control of the government bureaucracy ("snake-carriers") and the police forces ("lilac"), which in turn are under the direct command of the Council of Four and its Chairman, the actual Ruler the planet.

The plot follows the Communnist crew, who sacrificed some lives including the life of the expedition commander, historian Fuy Rodis, for the sake of the class-free future of the planet and of his people's children. Their interference is predominantly through providing information about Earth's past and present, analyses of the economical, social and political situation on the planet and explaining the ideology for class struggle to the local dicidents, but they also provide a selective short memory-eraser (a modifier of social and behavioural skills) to be used as a weapon by the local resistance forces. Also, some of the crew (esp. Rodis) have the mental capacity to do the same sort of influence without use of the device (though with less efficiency, comparable to the Jedi mind trick from Star Wars and the neuralizer from Men in Black). Every member of the crew was also accompanied by a robot with nine legs called "SDF" (Servant, Defender and Freighter).

The book's strong anti-Chinese sentiment was added because the novel was written in the time of the Sino-Soviet split. There are some interesting references to this antipathy found throughout the novel; for example, the gardens of the Dictator of the Planet were called "Zoam Gardens", an obvious backward reading for Mao Zedong, The Council of Four represented the Chinese Gang of Four. Even the name of the novel derived from an old (1909) Chinese-Russian dictionary (quoting the phrase "Earth is born in the Bull's hour (or Daemon's hour, 2:00 am)"). This quote also appeared in the epigraph of the novel.

Main characters

Starship "Dark Flame" Crew

*Fuy Rodis, expedition commander, historian
*Grif Rift, annihilation drive engineer, starship commander
*Vir Norin, astronavigator-I
*Menta Cor, astronavigator-II
*Div Simbel, pilot-engineer
*Gan Atal, armour belt defence engineer
*Nei Holly, biological defence engineer
*Sol Sain, computational devices engineer
*Olla Dez, communication and photography officer
*Evisa Tanet, medical officer, StarFlot Doctor
*Tivisa Henako, biologist
*Chedi Daan, sociologist, linguist
*Tor Lik, astrophysicist, planetologist

Planet Tormance characters

*Choyo Chagas, Chairman of the Big Four, Ruler of the Planet
*Gen Shi, Zet Ug, Ka Loof, his deputies, other members of the Big Four
*Yantre Yahah, his wife
*Er Vo-Bia, his girlfriend
*Hontello Tollo Fraelle (or Taele), his information officer
*Yan Gao-Yuar (Yangar), commander of the "Lilac"
*Su An-Te (Su-Te), Tormance girl
*Kzer Boo-Yam, leader of the "KZI" ("shortlivers")

References


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