The Stolen Sun – Emil Petaja (1967)
‘He had to bridge 100 generations…
Like an umbilical cord, the cortical hook-up linking Wayne Panu to his ship involved them in an unheard-of rapport, even in the ranks of the unique esper-pilot fleet that warred against the world-engulfing Mephiti.
In the outward surge into the far-flung galactic worlds for colonization Man had found but few habitable planets–but now even those few worlds were challenged. The Mephiti–dread, all-embracing fog forms–were Man’s match as they fought him planet for planet in the race for habitable space.
And only Wayne Panu, with his extraordinary ESP talents that went beyond the mind and the here and now–whose senses were strangely linked in the past to the heroes and legends of the ancient Kalevala–could retaliate in this fantastic war that devoured suns and swept across the ages of eternity.’
Blurb from the G-618 1967 Ace Doubles edition.
Wayne Panu is a military space pilot, attuned to a sentient ship, his mission is to destroy sentient life on habitable worlds. The weight of this responsibility is taking its toll. After his partner is killed, Wayne sets the controls to a dangerous and ridiculous limit and arrives in a Universe where he finds himself adjacent to a large copper spaceship with oars protruding from its hull.
An old man, Wainomoinen, takes him to a dying world where an evil witch, Louhi, has stolen the sun.
This is the third novel in which Petaja has adapted excerpts from the great Finnish saga, the Kalevala.
It is one thing to employ fantasy elements in a science fiction novel and rationalise them as futuristic science. It is another to move from a purely rational SF scenario to one of pure fantasy. That is not to say that it should not be done, but that it should be done in a way that works, which it does not do here.
Wayne is taken in by the fairly primitive Vanhat people, and within the space of a few pages is talking like a character from some Arthurian tale.
Perhaps given a longer page length this might have been something a little more special, since there is a clever conceit in the novel that the unfolding of events is dependent very much on Wayne’s character; what he was and what he has become.
A far better blending of the rational and the fantastic was carried out by Ian Watson in ‘Lucky’s Harvest’ and ‘The Fallen Moon’ which again takes the Kalevala as its principal source, to much better effect.