Our Man In Space

by Bruce W. Ronald
Reviewed date: 2020 Feb 5
Rating: 1
131 pages
cover art

Paragraphs out of order
The first and biggest problem with Our Man in Space is that two pages of text in the middle of Chapter II are out of place. They should be moved to the end of Chapter VII. This isn't a stylistic choice to present the story out of order, it's just a publishing error.

Read it in this order:

  • Chapter I
  • Chapter II
    • Stop reading when you get to page 21, the line that says "I'm on Grendid at the V1nt. Room 19301."
    • Skip forward to page 23, through to the line "Then Brown called Kk and the condemned man ate a hearty supper."
    • Starting reading again on the line that starts "Zantin was the largest city..."
  • Chapter III
  • Chapter IV
  • Chapter V
  • Chapter VI
  • Chapter VII
    • Read to the end of the chapter on page 70, where the chapter ends with the line "Vic Hermitage?"
    • Now go back and read the section skipped earlier: p21 ("I'm on Grendid at the V1nt. Room 19301.") through p23 ("Then Brown called Kk and the condemned man ate a hearty supper.")
    • Continue on to Chapter VIII
  • Chapter VIII
  • Chapter IX
  • Chapter X
  • Chapter XI
  • Chapter XII

Bill Brown, actor
Bill Brown is a talented actor trying to earn his way to AAA rating so he can emigrate. Earth is overcrowded, but only the most notable and capable people can earn a spot on one of the few emigration spaceships. It's a moot point though: nobody is emigrating. The great spaceships lie dormant. Yes, the galaxy is brimming with empty planets ripe for the picking. But Earth is a small planet in a galaxy filled with powerful interests. In Earth's corner of the galaxy, the Council of 16 races makes the rules, and the Council of 16 is denying them lebensraum.

Bill Brown, spy
Bill Brown is offered his greatest acting opportunity: impersonate the late Harry Gordon, assistant to the Earth ambassador to the planet Troll. Gordon, recently deceased, was spying for Troll. Brown's job is to travel to Troll, meet with Gordon's contacts, and deliver false information. In the process, he's to gather whatever information he can that might be useful to strongarm the Council of 16 into granting Earth permission to colonize. For this, Bill Brown will be paid heaps of cash and given a AAA rating and a guaranteed emigration spot. He accepts.

Lise, femme fatale
On board the spaceship traveling to Troll, Brown immediately runs into trouble: he meets a a strangely attractive woman, Lise, who seems to know Harry Gordon. What do do? Lise doesn't realize he's not the real Gordon, but he has no idea who she is. He makes a series of excuses to avoid her, to prevent her from realizing he's a fraud.

Bill Brown, sucker
Delivers his message to the spys on Troll, quickly discovers that they and the Earth government want him dead. It's easier that way.

Brown kills, repeatedly, and manages to escape off-planet. He makes it to Grendid, but there he's intercepted and arrested. It seems Troll has taken a dim view of his crimes, and wants him extradited. Brown wriggles out of it because the warrant is for Harry Gordon, but retina scans prove he's not Gordon. Brown takes sanctuary at the Galactic Church.

Kk Fvm
This is where the story goes off the rails. Brown begins an affair with a girl named Kk Fvm. How am I even supposed to pronounce that? "Kuh-kuh", the writer tells us on the next page. All Grendid names are pronounced with only the vowel U. Poor Bill must get used to being called Bull. Later he meets a girl named Gr.

More awful names
A99-652VLR--aka Tt Bvl--from Zee-9-Oh. King Zz. Inspector Bpmn. A lawyer named Jmlp.

Political plots
I tried to follow the twists and turns of the plot, but it was impossible. A named named Vic Hermitage is involved. There's Nagoral, an assassin sent from Troll to kill Bill. But mainly, Zee-9-Oh is going to assassinate King Zz and pin it on Bill Brown, thereby starting a war between Troll and Earth. Bill foils the plot, earns a favor from King Zz. To show his gratitude, King Zz promises to vote in favor of granting Earth the rights to a few colony planets.

Zz's double-cross
At the meeting of the Council of 16, Zz double-crosses Earth. He votes to allow Earth colony planets, but instructs those loyal to him to vote against. So Earth is still set to lose--except that Zee-9-Oh votes in favor. Earth is in, baby! It's a moot point though: Zee-9-Oh plans to kill everybody out of spite. So Bill Brown must save the day yet again.

Citizen of the Galaxy
The Galactic Citizen Detobion shows up and rescues everyone. Detobion reveals his identity to Bill: he's actually Lise. Detobion is just her disguise. Of course she and Bill can never be an item. Also she's telepathic. I wonder if Ronald hoped to sell this story to John Campbell?

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