Phil: I love a bit of sci-fi and many years ago, picked up a Perry Rhodan book. I think it was the second in the series. It followed Perry Rhodan, the first man to land on the moon in 1971, and his battles to unify and pacify the Earth using an alien spaceship he had found. Imagine the unholy product of a union between Dan Dare and Biggles.
At the time, I enjoyed it and since this was a series, decided I would seek out further books second hand and collect the set.
That was until I realised just how many there were. Well over a hundred I discovered from reading the titles. According to Wikipedia, there are 126 plus spin-off novels.
However, the series has German origins and they published 2950 plus 850 spin-off novels!
That’s some series. We are looking at pulp fiction – cheaply produced novels each containing a story that forms part of a much larger story arc. You also get a couple of bonus short stories in each. Think a novel/magazine combination. I don’t think the concept exists in the same way nowadays, but at the time, this sort of publishing was lapped up by readers.
Anyway, I recently spotted number 34 SOS: Spaceship Titan! in a shop and decided to renew my acquaintance with the series.
Initially, it is terrible. If you’re a regular reader then the sci-fi mumbo-jumbo will make a lot more sense, but it’s difficult for the casual reader to penetrate. There’s no time for a preamble, we are straight into the story so if you don’t know the characters then tough. Mind you, if you do know them then an explanation for new readers each time will be annoying, so fair enough.
The story involves a super new spaceship which Rhodan and chums take away for a flight, land on a mysterious planet and then stuff happens. Space fights, robots, weird aliens, the whole lot. Eventually, they win through, but the story stops before most of the loose ends are tied up. You’ll need issue 35 for that!
Bonus extras include a review of the film Killers from space, rubbishing it in a pretty vicious way and a short story The Eagle Has Landed which just made no sense.
An interesting histroical artefact, but I’m not sure I’ll be looking for any more. Maybe my reading has become more sophisiticated. Has anyone else re-read a book from their past and thought, “How did I like this stuff?”