The alternate history series continues while I work on new stuff.
I was not aware until doing this entry that this novel was part of a series with the second book translated by C. J. Cherryh.
Raw Feed (1990): Baphomet’s Meteor, Pierre Barbet, trans. Bernard Kay, 1972.
I was looking forward to reading this novel, an sf alternate history of the Knights Templar. It was disappointing, much less clever than a typical Dr. Who episode set in Earth’s history.
The idea of Baphomet, the idol the Templars were accused of worshipping at their trial, being an extraterrestrial in league with the Templars, vaulting them to success, was intriguing.
The development of the idea was, however, very simplistic.
Baphomet trades a few atomic grenades, radios, and matter duplicators for food all the while plotting to forge a world government he can turn over to a rescue ship. The only suspense is how Baphomet’s plans will be foiled. The answer: unbelievably acute scientific perception on the part of the Templars (people of the Middle Ages weren’t stupid, but they were limited, as all people are, by paradigms of thought which are conveniently ignored). There is also the all too convenient, a deus ex machina, appearance of Tibetan mystics/telepaths who mentally subdue Baphomet.
Barbet obviously did his research, and one of the book’s few pleasures, maybe the only one, is the juxtaposition of so many factions (Christians, Templars, Assassins, Mongols) that existed contemporaneously, but the battles are boring, and even the idea of the Templars forging an enlightened world empire was not very interesting.