Raiders from the Rings

by Alan E. Nourse
Reviewed date: 2020 Jun 3
Rating: 3
160 pages
cover art

Ben Trefon, age eighteen, is a Spacer taking part in his first raid. He swoops down, lands on Earth, and accomplishes his mission: kidnapping one Earth girl. Hooray! He jets off to leave, but oops: he's also accidentally kidnapped the Earth girl's brother. Oh bother.

More bother: Earth, so long defenseless and weak, is defenseless and weak no longer. While Trefon and his raiding party were hitting Earth, Earth's new spaceships were pounding Mars into dust, hitting the asteroids, and closing in on the hub of Spacer life: Asteroid Central.

Ben gets to know his captives, Joyce and Tom Barron, and they get to know him. It's a real meeting of two cultures. Both sides in this endless, senseless war have their minds opened.

Joyce and Tom reveal that on Earth, it's common knowledge that the Spacers are breeding an army of mutants to invade and conquer Earth. That's why Earth launched the huge offensive to destroy the Spacers. The army of mutants is news to Ben. He explains that there's no such thing, that Spacers want peace. They only raid Earth because Earth has crucial resources like food. Well, food and women. The hard radiation of space means that in space, no girls are born, only boys. Without kidnapping girls from Earth, the Spacers would die out. Ben explains all this like it justifies kidnapping young women and making them into Spacer wives, but it's monstrous.

Ben and Joyce and Tom are the only Spacers and Earthers who have ever talked about their respective worlds, apparently. Despite the fact that Spacers kidnap dozens, nay, hundreds, of Earth women each year to serve as their wives, Ben and Joyce and Tom are the first to ever talk about what Earth thinks about Spacers, and vice versa.

I don't buy it.

Moving on. There are aliens. They're in the belt, observing humanity, hoping that men can stop their senseless war before it destroys them. But the aliens can't interfere. No. But they can snatch Ben and Joyce and Tom, and tell them all this, and give them the job of stopping the senseless war.

So three teenagers have the responsibility to stop a war of utter extermination between two societies who hate each other so much they are unwilling to even negotiate. But hey, the three kids explain everything, and reveal the truth about the aliens, and everyone decides to stop fighting.

It's a happy ending.

Look, it's not a bad book. It's not a great book, but it's well-written and although the plot has some rough spots, it's a quick fun read. Great fun.

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