Thursday, February 05, 2009

Forgotten Books Friday: Cap Kennedy

First, I forgot to mention this earlier in the week. One of my Halloween Horror flash stories has been published in slightly altered form over at Micro 100. It’s in Issue 2, February 09. It’s only 130 words so pop over if you’re a mind to. There are also some other good flash stories in the issue as well.

Cap Kennedy: Steely eyed. Steely jawed. Secret Agent of the Spaceways.

I never heard of the Cap Kennedy space opera series until about three years ago when I picked up three volumes from the now missing and highly missed used SF bookstore in the New Orleans French Quarter. The series began in 1973 with Galaxy of the Lost, and, as near as I can tell, ended with #17, Galactiad. The majority of the books were published one right after another from 1973 to 1975. That’s 16 books in two years. The last book wasn’t published until 1983, a eight year gap, and so far I haven’t been able to find out why.

The photo shows a variety selection of the books. (I borrowed this photo from Bonanzle, btw, and since I included their link I hope they won’t mind.) I kind of like some of these covers, although they have a certain heavy handedness to them. Still, the colors and bold strokes are vibrant and draw the eye.

The author listed on the covers for the series is Gregory Kern, who I’ve found out is really E. C. Tubb. I believe Tubb wrote all of them, though I’m not absolutely sure. Eight books a year is a pretty hefty output for one writer, although the books are very short, no longer than 125-126 pages. The publisher is DAW, and it looks as if they were striving for a Perry Rhodan type series. I’ve now read three volumes and liked them well enough to order more, and the series does a good job of producing readable space opera. It’s not as fantastic as the Perry Rhodan series, but the books are consistently fast paced and readable. Tubb was a pretty good writer. I’ve also liked his Dumarest of Terra series, under his own name.

The plots of the Cap Kennedy books are not exactly new, although they were fresher in the 1970s than they would be today. In Cap Kennedy #1, ships are disappearing in a Bermuda Triangle of the space lanes. Cap and his crew of operatives must investigate, and Cap himself gets caught up by the mystery when the ship he is on disappears as well.

I really enjoyed this first book in the series. I was completely caught up in the story and I liked the characters, though they are drawn with broad strokes. I did find the ending somewhat disappointing. It came too abruptly and didn’t adequately explore the mystery that had been set up. Tubb may have been laboring under some serious time and length constraints from the publisher, however.

I just finished book 3 of the series, Monster of Metelaze, and it was also pretty decent. If you need a fast paced space opera fix, Cap Kennedy might be for you. I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read, although I wouldn’t want to go on a binge. Judiciously mixing them with other types of books seems to be the ticket.

NOTE 1: Forgotten Books Friday is the brainchild of Patricia Abbott. Sadly, Patti lost her mother on Wednesday. Please wish her well.

Note 2: Two other of our blog colleagues have suffered grave losses in the past few days as well. Scott Hall lost his grandmother, and Bernita Harris lost her husband. Laughingwolf lost his father a year ago this week.

It's been a rather tough week. Let's all send our good thoughts in their direction.


James Reasoner said...

I read the first Cap Kennedy book when it was new and remember liking it well enough. But for whatever reason, I never picked up any of the other books in the series. I always meant to read the Dumarest books, too, but never got around to that, either. I think I have a procrastination problem. Or just too blasted much that I want to read.

Cloudia said...

"Space Opera" What a cool title for a genre! Like "Horse Opera" for a cowboy epic. aloha-

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm tellin' ya, flash fiction on the internet is where it's at. Read your micro-fiction, nicely done.

Sidney said...

I love discovering that sort of thing. That's what I always found great about visiting old used book shops. Now you almost have to discover things on blogs and order because more recent bestsellers seem to line the shelves at used shops. Happily we have one here that's managed to be a little more diverse.

The Bermuda Triangle inspiration seems very much of its time and is kind of fun.

Strange that they had such a long gap. There's an occult investigator series like that, Doctor Orient, only three or four books, spaced out strangely among a couple of publishers

Sam said...

Love Space Operas - have to go get some more - been craving a fix!
So sorry to hear about the losses. It's been a rough winter.

J. L. Krueger said...

The profile pic is great!

Catching up...the previous post about the beggars hits home with me because it's something I see everyday here in Kabul.

BernardL said...

Good forgotten book post, Charles. I enjoyed it.

Charles Gramlich said...

James, I think it's the "too" much to read problem. I'm the same way with a lot of stuff. I've had the Cap Kennedy books for several years but the mood wasn't right. Now suddenly it is.

Cloudia, that's exactly where the concept came from. It's fiction high on adventure, and not necessarily following the laws of physics that Hard SF needs to try to do.

JR., thanks. I'm enjoying doing that sort of thing for sure.

Sidney, I've found that blogs can be a neat way to find out more about books I've never heard of but might like. That's why I'm enjoying this forgotten books Friday.

Sam, I have a book on the Space Opera Renaissance that I need to read. It's nonfic. yes, some tough times for many.

J. L., I wonder how they compare over there to here. Glad you like the pic.

Bernardl, thanks. I'm glad you did.

Anonymous said...

Cap Kennedy sounds like fun. This is the first time I've heard of them. I do like Space Opera.

L.A. Mitchell said...

The Cap Kennedy series sounds like fun. I love reading old Sci Fi to find out how prophetic of future events the writers truly were.

So sorry about the losses of so many. I'll keep them in my thoughts.

Randy Johnson said...

Cap Kennedy is new to me as well. I'll certainly give them a try as they are definitely up my alley.
By the way, did you know there's a problem with the link on Patti's blog. It takes you to The Rap Sheet instead of here.

Heff said...

All my good thoughts are with Scott. It's the least I can do after receiving beer from the guy.

AvDB said...

Congrats on the flash. No surprise though, you cranked out some good stuff this past October. I'm heading over there to check out the new version.

Bernita, Scott and Laughingwolf. I am deeply sorry for each of your losses.

Mary Witzl said...

I liked 'Sleep Tight' too. Now I know why I freak my kids out when I go to their rooms to wish them good night...

My heart goes out to all the writers who have lost someone this week -- not easy, I know.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jack, I've just become familiar myself.

L.A., yes, think they are fun, and I like to read just for fun sometimes.

Randy, I think you might like them. Patti must have fixed the link thing, it seems to be working for me OK now.

Heff, yes, Scott has given me beer as well. There's surely a place in heaven. Or Valhalla. for him.

Avery, hope you enjoy. Halloween horror october was fun.

Mary Witzl, yes, parents underestimate our power to freak out our kids.

laughingwolf said...

grats on the pub, i recall that tale :)

never heard of that kennedy...

and thx for your condolences....

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


I continue to love forgotten book fridays ... many thanks. Don

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm glad you've been enjoying these books, baby.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Never ever seen these. That looks a nice collection. When I was a kid I was always jealous of the books and comics you Americans had compared to us over here in the UK.

Greg said...

enjoyed your horror flash the second time around too! micro100 is good... glad it seems to be sticking around.

Charles Gramlich said...

Laughingwolf, I hadn't heard of him until a few years ago.

Don, glad you enjoyed. I'm enjoying it more each time, and already have my next one planned out.

Lana, you know me, readaholic.

Archavist, I realized when I was in my 20s that the US had tons of cool comics and pulps but I never saw them growing up. I was raised in the Bible Belt and we just didn't have access to much of anything that might have been risque or violent. I'm still half jealous of my friends who got to see all that stuff.

Greg, yes, I'd like to see more commentary over there, to give them some incentive. I like the stuff they've done so far.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Charles - Your micro was great! Really captured the childhood fears!

And I am so sorry for the tough losses people have been suffering. My heart hurts for Bernita.

Cath said...

Oh my goodness Charles I was just catching up on stuff and there are some real downers here! My thoughts are with all those who are struggling with a loss or memories of a loss at the moment. Hope life balances out again soon for them.

I just came over to say I caught your interview at David's and I really enjoyed it. Well done. :)

David Cranmer said...

130 words! You told a complete story in 130 words! Excellent amigo.

ivan said...

Halloween 100
Incubi and succubi under and over the bed.
Mamacita, los monstros!

Craig Glenn said...


Here from your interview with
David M. Enjoyed my visit to your blog. I look forward to stopping by again.


X. Dell said...

Sounds very interesting. Thanks for the heads up.

Charles Gramlich said...

Ello, thanks. I had plenty of childhood fears. Some of them are gone now, but not all. Yes, it was a rough week for quite a few folks.

CrazyCath, yes, I was very sorry to hear of the losses.

David Cranmer, thankee. Much appreciated.

Ivan, I'd rather the succubi than the incubi.

Craig Glenn, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it. I'll pop over to your place as well.

X. Dell, I'm kind of a sucker for space opera.

Shrinky said...

Over from David's, great Sunday Roast. When I lived in London we had a specialist comic book store on our corner which never allowed me to pass. They still send me on the odd red cross parcel every month or so.


Chris Eldin said...

That was one of the fastest reads.... Don't let the bed bugs bite. Wonder why we still say that to kids?

Charles Gramlich said...

Shrinky, thanks for visiting. Yes, getting the right kind of reading material is like first aid. I always feel better.

Chris Eldin, That's what inspired that story. I've said it to my son and my mom said it to me. I don't know why. Habit I guess.

Anndi said...

What happened to the bookstore?

Congratulations on being published! WOOOOOOO!

Why do you keep planting more seeds of books in my head? Could someone pay me to read? That would be exquisite. I think I'd end up as a workoholic ;)

I'm so very sorry to see so much loss. Very sweet of you to let us know.

Miladysa said...

Never heard of Cap Kennedy before today.

Sad news regarding our fellow bloggers. I'm sending warm thoughts and well wishes their way.

Chris Benjamin said...

cool story. making momma scary is just nasty. in a good literary way i mean.

Charles Gramlich said...

Anndi, It partially flooded in Katrina, and then business fell off so bad later because there were so few people back. I think they moved to Dallas.

Miladysa, yes, me too.

Benjibopper, it was definitely fun.

Randy Johnson said...

Dropping you a quick note. These looked interesting and when I went to Bonanzle, I decided to take a chance. I ordered the twelve they had on the listing(1-3, 5-13). I got them for a total of thirteen dollars and they came in the mail today.
If I don't like them, I'll bill you. LOL!

Lisa said...

I'm sorry for all of their losses. Thank you for posting this for us... I know their pain.

Charles Gramlich said...

Randy, lol. If you don't like them and bill me, that'll probably just offset the amount I was planning on charging you for remindng you of "The Secret of the Martian Moons." That's a pretty good price on those books, though.

Lisa, yes it's definitely a hard time.

Barbara Martin said...

Your story "Sleep Tight" was well done: loved it. Reminded me of my bedtimes in the dark and the creak of those doors.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara, thanks. I appreciate that.