Friday, July 30, 2010

You’re My Lucky Starr

The series continued with 5 more Lucky Starr books. They are Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids, Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus, Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury, Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter, and Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn.
All contain the same adventure type stories that appealed to me and I imagine many other young boys of the time. Bigman Jones was a loyal sidekick, the Sirians were clearly evil, and the Council of Science was wisely benevolent.
There were continuing problems with the changing and updating of the solar system as actual exploration continued, but I still can reread them for what they are. Good stories. If the background is outdated, well so is the background of every Agatha Christie novel, every spy novel about the Soviet Union, etc. If they are good stories you can still read John Le Carre and enjoy his novels even if the Soviet Union and the KGB don’t exist anymore. (Probably because in the case of the KGB renaming it doesn’t change it)
Isaac Asimov linked his Robot Stories, the Foundation Series, and the Spacer novels together. All inhabit, more or less, the same humans only universe of his creation. He did it deliberately in his later novels, and to me the connection was always visible. But, I think that these 6 novels inhabit the same universe. Maybe not as clearly, but if you dance around the time frames etc it is a humans only universe and there is antagonism between Earth and the colonies just as in the Spacer novels. He also introduced the positronic brain and robots in The Big Sun of Mercury along with the concept of the Sirians being a society of loners and elitests. Just like the spacers.
Well I think they are all great examples of juvenile SF and have enjoyed re-reading them more than once. Next post will be about another bunch of juveniles that I loved and still do.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

No Girls Allowed

David Starr: Space Ranger    
                               Back when I was a boy (I am a bit older now,but as Peter Pan said I’ll Never Grow Up) SF was a boys only club. Or so it seemed. The few of us that were into SF were always boys, and nerdy ones at that. And in my memory, those were the good old days of SF. SF is, or mostly used to be, about that audience- alienated young or teenage boys who just didn’t fit in. The books I read back then have never left my memory and as good as SF is now, and I do enjoy the books that I have read in the years since then, those books hold a special place.
I think there are others out there who feel the same. So I am going to do a series of reviews/ commentaries on the books I was reading from about 1960 to 1970. I never forgot them, and as I got older I started trying to get them back. Using the pre-internet resources of classified ads and book searchers I managed to find a lot of them, and now many of them are available on various sites such as Amazon.
The first one I will talk about may be the first SF book I ever read, I am not sure. It’s “David Starr: Space Ranger” by Paul French, also known as Isaac Asimov.
It was an example of the kind of “Sense Of Wonder” book that brought me and so many others into SF. A young man, orphaned at an early age, so smart that he just is different from everyone else, becomes a hero. Wish fulfillment par excellence. Its also a mystery, besides being a SF novel of adventure, something Isaac did a lot and perhaps my favorite kind of SF since I am a mystery fan also.
David Starr saves Earth from mass poisoning or starvation and meets the alien Martians in caverns beneath the surface of Mars. What more could you want?
This is the first in a series of 6 novels. He becomes Lucky Starr in the next 5, but continues to have adventures with his sidekick Bigman Jones and the Council of Science.
These stories are set in a solar system based on 1950’s astronomy. So, as Isaac Asimov has written, very shortly after they were published space probes went out and changed the solar system forever. There are no Oceans Of Venus for example.
To be perfectly honest, I prefer that solar system to the real one. Since the stars are so far away its unlikely we will get there in my lifetime, or perhaps ever, and the chance of meeting aliens, and having adventures like Lucky in this Solar System is nil.
Ah well, maybe I should just grow up. Or maybe not.
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