Ossian's Ride

Ossian's Ride

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Ossian's Ride is a science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 written by astrophysicist
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

 Sir Fred Hoyle.

Plot summary

In the 1970 of this story, Eire
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 has become an authoritarian police state, made somewhat acceptable to the population by the vast wealth flowing from a secret and forbidden science zone occupying a large area of the South-West. Here is based the mysterious 'Industrial Corporation of Éire' which has produced a range of new technologies. Its enigmatic founders are not Irish: they settled there and resist all attempts to find out who they are. A young British scientist agrees to be sent as a spy to find out just what is going on.

Although labelled as Science Fiction by the publisher, the bulk of the novel owes more to the thriller style of the John Buchan tradition, as the Cambridge hero battles across wild Irish landscapes fighting a series of murderous thugs and secret policemen.

The science fiction denouement is confined almost to the last chapter and foreshadows the theme of Hoyle's later A for Andromeda
A for Andromeda
A for Andromeda is a British television science fiction drama serial first made and broadcast by the BBC in seven parts in 1961. Written by the noted cosmologist Fred Hoyle, in conjunction with author and television producer John Elliot, it concerns a group of scientists who detect a radio signal...

, though in a far more cursory manner. Also of note is the way the young hero seems to come to accept the notion of an authoritarian society ruled by a few self-appointed "supermen".

The link with the legendary Irish hero Ossian
Ossian is the narrator and supposed author of a cycle of poems which the Scottish poet James Macpherson claimed to have translated from ancient sources in the Scots Gaelic. He is based on Oisín, son of Finn or Fionn mac Cumhaill, anglicised to Finn McCool, a character from Irish mythology...

 is peripheral to the plot and is explained near the end.


Galaxy Science Fiction
Galaxy Science Fiction was an American digest-size science fiction magazine, published from 1950 to 1980. It was founded by an Italian company, World Editions, which was looking to break in to the American market. World Editions hired as editor H. L...

reviewer Floyd C. Gale received the novel favorably, saying that Hoyle's craftsmanship has "improved tremendously since his first effort"; he described the novel as "a science-mystery-spy story that has no apparent forebear in the SF repertory."