Publisher: Ace Books
First Ace Printing, 1965
Cover Art: Frank Frazetta (thanks to user cherniga for the ident)
Plot Synopsis (of cover): Are you “fed up” with seeing the space dragons walk off with the best of everything? Sick and tired of being soft, frail, skinny or unable to survive in the vacuum of space — only AT HALF GRAVITY? I know just how you feel. Because I myself was once a puny 97-pound “astronaut.” And I was so ashamed of my scrawny frame that I dreaded being seen in a space suit. If you’re like I was, you want a powerful, muscular, well-proportioned build you can be proud of any time, anywhere, at any percentage of light speed. You want the “Gamma-Irradiated” type of physique that women rave about at your physical examinations — the kind that makes other species (that weren’t already) green with envy. But who has time for that? Send away to us for our free catalog at Atlas Laser Pistols, PO Box 4242 W Berkeley. After all, why would you want “Dynamic Tension” when you have directed ionizing radiation?
Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: When it comes to space-y science fiction, given a choice between something in a Galaxy Far Far Away and something on the moon, I’ll take the moon every time. The moon has kitsch. The moon is romantic. Even better if the person who’s writing about it is doing so before we’ve been there. Even better than better if the person creates a moon as radically different from the one we’ve visited as Kline has. I mean, yes, Kline is stuck with late 20s physics but still… not only does he create a breathable atmosphere on the lunar surface, he populates it with drinkable rivers, bio-luminescent rainforests, dragons, Martians, and Chinese people. And how about that infinite power, harnessed by splitting the atom? The book starts out with us shooting a gigantic bullet out of an island-sized nuclear cannon in order to hit the moon with it. That is, for funzies (and profit). Then, shortly after the revelation that interplanetary war had been declared, our protagonist scientist is less concerned about receiving communications from PEOPLE LIVING ON THE MOON than he is about the fact that his company is broke and needs a government bailout. Lots of hasty space battles and really bad diplomacy later, all-American-scientist guy marries the girl on the moon. The end of the book is rushed, which could be explained by its origins as a serial in Argosy. This is one of those things that’ll be read and enjoyed by people who already enjoy things in its vein, but is probably too dated for others. That is, unless you really like space dragons and not-very-subtle racism against Chinese people.
Rating: 7.8 Grilled Moon Mushrooms
Questions for Critical Cover-Viewing:
* If your girlfriend were snatched up by a dragon, would you be a) pissed off and jealous, or b) proud that the only example of a mythological creature confirmed thus far to exist has chosen your mate as its own?
* What purpose is served by attaching a nipple to one’s helmet?
* In the vacuum of space, can nobody hear your Beach Blanket Bingo?