Destination: Saturn — Donald A. Wollheim (as David Grinnell) & Lin Carter (1967)


Publisher: Ace Books

First Ace Edition, 1968

Cover Art: Kelly Freas

Plot Synopsis (of cover): The Britain of the 30th century would be largely unfamiliar to people of the previous millennium. Gone were the football games, pubs, and curries of yore, to be replaced with astro-football, space lager, and freeze-dried vindaloo. However, while the piss-up had been redefined to describe zero-G urination, there were some aspects of Old Britannia that endured. Namely, the Royal Family still maintained a presence in the hearts, minds, and banknotes of its subjects (sadly, the corgi went extinct in 2642). Keeping with tradition, when first extraterrestrial contact was made, new alliances were forged. Simultaneously, young Edward XVIII, Heir Apparent to the Hyperthrone, was in the process of honoring another tradition—embarrassing liaisons. To the chagrin of his Queenly Mum, Edward had taken up with a spidery Koosh ball with big doe eyes and blonde fur. The Queen was overheard to remark, “Oh, no. I’ve no problem with Eddie hitching his cart to an extraterrestrial stress-reliever. But I was less than amused to find that the thing had been divorced!”

Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: This short romp was just fun. I’m almost certain that the authors knew that they were writing something that would make people smile, so they didn’t even try to be serious about it. In fact, the cover of the novel is accurate to the attitude of its contents. It’s also rare, at least in my limited experience, to read sci-fi writers claim that aliens are living on Saturn, a gas giant, rather than on one of its moons—points for creativity there. Its protagonist, who runs on pure bravado and billions of dollars, is a hoot of a self-declared monarch, and the Saturnian enemy is cleverly crafted. If I had to crap on it for more than some clunky language choices in the beginning, I would say that it felt like the authors wanted to do more but were constrained by brevity. Still, if the only thing to complain about is that you wish there were more of it, you can’t be too mad about it (true for books and steak dinner).

Rating: 9.2 Exploding Moose Robots

Questions for Critical Cover Viewing:

  • What kind of fur-lined collar is warm enough to protect you from the vacuum of space, and how many people died testing the theory?
  • As the Alien Design Team at Ace regularly gets into these kinds of time crunches, and as they have clearly resorted to painting up items on their desks, do you think this cover is more effective than the alternate one featuring an Octo-Stapler?
  • Who would bow to a monarch with legs like Bambi?

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