Fanner Marston was raised a slave as a child, became a petty street thief as a teen, and now masters his own craft and crew as a grown man. He's also gone completely mad.
Driven by privation, with a vicious greed and slavering lust for power, Marston alone of forty men has survived the perilous trek through a blistering desert to the magical city of Parva, where legend says a secret awaits which will give him absolute control over the Universe. However, Marston finds the key to all power is not at all what he expected. . . .
Starred Review. Hubbard's classic pulp fiction tale was originally published in 1943 but shows no signs of age. With the tremendous attention to detail and production, audiences will find themselves captivated from beginning to end. This multicast performance, headed by Bruce Boxleitner, is a wonderfully rich and textured experience, complete with realistic sound effects and moody atmospheric score. The result is an almost theatrical experience, with Boxleitner leading listeners on a futuristic journey that will have their pulses racing and imaginations running wild. Also included are three shorter science-fiction tales, each as entertaining as the last. A Galaxy Press paperback.(Sept.)
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Galaxy Press, LLC
September 06, 2008
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Excerpt from The Great Secret by L. Ron Hubbard
Sweeping clouds shadowed the tawny plain, and far off in the east the plumes of night spread gently, mournfully, burying the corpse of the Livian day. Fanner Marston, a tattered speck upon a ridge, looked eastward, looked to the glory he sought and beheld it.
Throat and tongue swollen with thirst, green eyes blazing now with new ecstasy, he knew he had it. He would gain it, would realize that heady height upon which he had elected to stand. Before him lay the Great Secret! The Secret which had made a dead race rule the Universe! And that Secret would be his, Fanner Marston's, and Fanner Marston would be the ruler, the new ruler, the arbiter of destiny for all the Universe!
All through these weeks he had stumbled over the gutted plains toward these blue mountains beneath the scorching double sun. He had suffered agonies but he had won!
There, glittering in the yellow sunlight was Parva, dead, beautiful city of the ancients, city of the blessed, city of knowledge and power.
Fanner laughed. He was strong; he was lean; but he was not handsome; and of all the things about him this laugh, distorted by thirst-ravaged lips, was the least pleasant. His eyes, which had of late grown so very dull, flamed greenly with the ecstasy which came with that vision.
He had won. They had told him that he could not; the legends said it was not possible for any mortal man to win. But the spell of the ancients was broken, their books were open, their riches lay for the taking. Parva was there! Parva was his!
It mattered nothing to Fanner that nearly twenty miles of gashed and forbidding terrain still lay between him and his goal. It mattered not that his canteens were empty; nor did it matter that, behind the ridge on which he stood, his monocycle, last vehicle of his caravan, was a ruined wreck.
He was glad now that his companions were dead--of thirst, of quarrels, of disease. He would not have to murder the last of them now and so preserve to himself this incalculable thing which awaited him. Fate was shaping everything for him!
He could do these twenty miles by noon of the next day, do them the hard way, on foot and without water, for there was something to sustain him now; he knew that the city was real, had truly existed through all these ages, was just as the history books had said it was. And if this much was true, then all was true. And he had seen the silver river!
Fanner's boots were scuffed relics but he set forth down the rocky slope and so great was his ecstasy that he did not feel the sharp bites of the rocks, nor did he feel the fingers of thirst which were throttling him. He was hard; he could outlive forty men and had done it; he would succeed, for he was Fanner Marston!
He had fought these deserts and mountains and he had whipped them--almost. He would live through to the end, and see the Great Secret which awaited him emblazon his name throughout space!
Fanner Marston would bring a new era, a day when spaceships no longer had to land in seas to save themselves from being shattered, when men would be hampered no longer in combating the atmospheres of many now uninhabitable planets. The wealth of the Universe would be his for the taking; the entire race of mankind would bow to his command like vassals. For there, glittering in the sunset, was Parva--Parva, the city of the Great Secret.
Darkness caught him, and he groped his stumbling way among a great forest of black boulders. He did not mind the shocks of falling, the cuts inflicted upon him, the gouges of the unkind earth; nor did he mind the constantly increasing size of his tongue. Distance he had mastered; mere thirst would not stop him now. And besides, he had seen it, just like in the legends. The silver river. What cared he for thirst when that mighty stream awaited him?
Fanner Marston, master of the Universe: it was a pleasant title to resound through his brain.
Black-mouthed with thirst, stumbling with fatigue, lightheaded with his dream of power, he struggled on through the night.