Divide and Rule

L. Sprague de Camp
Divide and Rule Cover

Divide and Rule

Ryan F

"Divide and Rule" is a short novel/long novella from 1939 about a future in which humanity has been conquered by giant rabbit aliens that everyone calls "hoppers." They landed in South America and waged a long war of conquest (aided by epidemic alien disease in a very nice historical touch). Once they were finished they took action to suppress humanity so that it could serve as their labor force; they outlawed industrial technology and forced schools to teach that they were gods in the natural order. Most importantly, they decided to divide humanity (we have a title!) by imposing a new feudal order.

A couple of centuries later, Sir Howard van Slyck, the Duke of Poughkeepsie, has spent most of his young life raiding castles and fighting duels across New York. He meets a chain-mailed, whip-wielding commoner from the west named Lyman Haas. Haas and van Slyck team up to rescue a damsel-in-distress named Sally Mitten but earn the enmity of the hoppers in the process. Sally leads them to the resistance in hiding, and they learn the truth about their world.

It's a fast-moving, fun adventure story with good characters, snappy dialogue, a strong concept, and some interesting sf ideas. The only flaw is that the hoppers have some very convenient weaknesses that allow the story to wrap up quickly. I really wouldn't mind more of this story.