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Ace Double Review:
Murray Leinster




ACE DOUBLE D-403, published in 1959



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Murray Leinster
"The Pirates of Ersatz" (nv)

(also as "The Pirates of Zan")
© Astounding Stories, Feb 1959

"The Pirates of Zan" (nv)
(also as "The Pirates of Ersatz")
© Astounding Stories, Feb 1959
novel: Ace Double, 1959
--novel : 1959 Hugo nomination
--/ cool sf novel

Some say that this is a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta in space, using good old space pirates as a backdrop. Some even say it's funny. I would agree with the first statement but not the second. Light-hearted fare, to the point of evaporating the moment it enters the brain, so the memory retention factor is zero. Sadly, this is considered one of Leinster's high points in writing, so it is widely reprinted. I found the style of writing wooden and awkward, the plot is marginal and the idea non-existent. Plus I just feel plain insulted by the fact that Leinster uses the venerable "space piracy" stage, completely stripping it of action, wonder and romance (compare this novel to the greatly exciting "The Three Planeteers" by Edmond Hamilton), and for many readers that would be the only brush with the theme (as they do not have access to pulps). Oh well, enough grumbling. The plot is about the coming to fame and fortune of an ex-pirate engineer, who uses pirate economics for the benefit of an otherwise backwater planet. There is some romance in it, but I could not care for the characters, so they might as well be cats or hamsters (they perfunctorily kiss in the end, so they must be humans after all).
review: 29-Jul-06 (read in 2006)

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Murray Leinster
"The Mutant Weapon" (nv)

(also as "Med Service")
(Calhoun Med Service series)
© Astounding Stories, Aug 1957
novel: Ace Double, 1959
--/ cool sf novel

Med Service replaces a Galactic Government in these series of novels, being the only organization that keeps civilization together in the face of great distances and travel times. Med Patrol man Calhoun is a loner and a type of space-ranger, who travels with his alien pet around the Galaxy and solves mysteries on many colonized planets. This is a great premise for an adventure book, but not every novel from this series is a winner. In fact, the only exciting and enjoyable part for me often were the first pages, as Calhoun chills out in a little ship, jokes with his alien pet, and keeps his cool - the contrast between glorious stars and loneliness of his watch is striking - but when the ship actually lands on some planet the sense-of-wonder begins to diminish, planet ecologies usually are run-of-the-mill, and the plot turns to pretty basic mystery-solving. The better part comes again at the ending, when the pair blasts into space again and is back to enjoying each other's company among the vastness of surrounding stars. This novel tells of a man-made plague designed to finish off the native population before the main group of colonists arrive.
review: 29-Jul-06 (read in 2006)

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COMMENTS:

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've missed it.

Yes, "Leinster" was a terrible wordsmith. Yes, his characters were wooden and didn't have sex. That was pretty normal for the 1920's, which is when he published "Sideways in Time".

So you should have asked why his better efforts haven't been long forgotten. And the answer is that he invented a whole slew of ideas that are now standard - like hyperspace drives, travel to alternate universes, and the Internet. He was an original thinker.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Avi Abrams said...

oh, yes, better efforts of Leinster are in SF hall of fame, and he is one of my favorites - though uneven.

9:29 AM  

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