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.