Publisher: Ace Books
First Ace Edition, 1961
Cover Art: Ed Valigursky
Plot Synopsis (of cover): On the wrong side of 35 and the wronger side of two divorces, Melba was, as per usual, not in the greatest of spirits. Dating within her circle of friends had simply decreased its radius, and matchmaking attempts on her behalf had met with no success. As she was about to give up and buy a few Venutian space-cats, she received a hit on one of her (many) online dating profiles. The message from a handsome Swedish bodybuilder asked if she’d be up for some dinner. Her desperation clung to her metaphorically like her nervous perspiration did literally—meet a stranger on a blind date, possibly to discover the love of her life, or condemn herself to self-imposed spinsterism? Melba decided to throw caution to the wind and donned her favorite onesie. The parabolic neckline had a pleasing slope, while the hyperbolic paraboloids on each shoulder absolutely screamed late-21st century class. Its sickly magenta, rejected wholesale by natural rainbows, did wonders to complement her light welterweight boxing championship belt, and the black stripe on the side made it look like she was going fast. Melba was ready for love. She would be disappointed, however, upon her arrival to Famous Bradbury’s Industrial Power and BBQ, as her date had obviously taken some liberties with his online profile. After the initial shock, however, she decided that she could forgive him for that—after all, she had listed herself as being 28. After some polite conversation over wine, Melba asked, “So. Do you ever think about having kids?” Her date, eye stalks straightening, replied, “Of course. My anatomy is essentially composed of one massive testicle. It’s hard to avoid thinking about it.” Melba sighed, realizing that this guy was clearly a nerd, probably only good for a few more dinner dates and some light coupling.
Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: Believe it or not, I do have standards when I select which books I choose to PBBPB all over. One of the things I try to avoid is books that belong to a series, mostly because I don’t want to obligate myself to reviewing everything in said series, which, I believe, would bore the crap out of you (I made an exception for Spacial Delivery and Spacepaw because they had space bears). What I REALLY try not to do is review a book in a series out of sequence. I failed in this regard once before, and it was FUCKING TERRIBLE. This is the second time I’ll be breaking that rule. I choose to continue on here for two reasons: 1) The cover has a pink testicle on it, and 2) It’s pretty great, regardless of being out of sequence, and is worth reading regardless. The sequel to Brigands of the Moon, this, like so many of its time, was once a magazine serialization, so expect an abrupt ending. That’s the only criticism I have. Ray Cummings makes me feel bad, actually, for not reading BotM—Wandl gives me the impression that there is fun to be had in exploring how the relationship began between its spaceman buddy protagonists and their fiancées. It’s a save-the-girl-save-the-world kind of light SF adventure novel that doesn’t demand much from its reader. It’s fun, it’s short, and it’s engaging. Cummings also does a lot of delicious 1930s things with physics, which is something I’m always on the lookout for in older sci-fi. He accurately describes decompression and (some) orbital dynamics, while including charming impossibilities like gravity rays and the luminiferous ether. Notably, Cummings was a lab assistant and technical writer (read, gopher bitch) to Edison back in the 1910s, so that’s pretty neato, and it shows some in his handling of the science-y bits. The book is in the public domain, so you can Google it and read it for free. Look for my favorite bit of “No shit, Sherlock” dialogue: “But all those millions dead. It seems so terrible.” “It is, for them!”
Rating: 9.0 Bouncing Brain Balls
Questions for Critical Cover-Viewing:
- In the costume design department, who was doing more coke: a) the person who thought curly-toed Jutti with nine-inch heels were a good idea or b) the person who thought they should be irremovable components of a leotard?
- If we turned the spherical alien around, would we see its giant butt crack?
- If we assume the outfit pictured is, as it appears to be, a one-piece garment, are we to further assume that future clothing comes equipped with embedded waste control systems, or does the lady need to get naked every time she has to make a poo?