Not only a renowned scientist – he coined the term Big Bang – Fred Hoyle also wrote science fiction. (The Black Cloud is still one of my favourites.) But this slim number, while touting itself as SF, has practically nothing to do with the genre until the last chapter, when it flings in a few speculative ideas and rounds everything off quickly.* And not all that satisfyingly..
What you get before then is a John Buchan-style adventure, with our hero Making his Way through Foreign Territory, Evading Capture, Surviving a Deadly Cliff Descent and finally Learning The Truth.
As an adventure it’s old-fashioned fun – it was published in 1959 – but as science fiction, it’s practically a non-starter. Not all bad though: The Black Cloud is still in print.
* Does this account for the announcement of the author’s credentials at the bottom of the cover. Did the Publicity department think that was the only way to sell it?