The Skylark of Space

by E. E. "Doc" Smith
Series: Skylark 1
Reviewed date: 2006 Nov 21
Rating: 2
159 pages
cover art

Smith's most famous work is his Lensman series, but his first publication was The Skylark of Space. Smith went on to write a four-book series which is a defining work in the history of science fiction. Unfortunately it has not aged well and I do not recommend it.

The Skylark of Space - The first book is by far the weakest of the series. Smith introduces us to Dick Seaton, the absent-minded scientist, and Martin Crane, his wealthy friend and patron. Seaton discovers a rare new element X which, combined with copper, produces a controllable release of energy sufficient to power a space ship. Seaton and Crane build a spaceship, but are hampered in their efforts by Marc C. DuQuesne, an evil scientist who is determined to get his hands on X, which he believes will give him the power to rule the world. DuQuesne teams up with the robber barons of the World Steel Corporation to build his own spaceship, which he powers with X stolen from Seaton and Crane.

Like a good little villain, DuQuesne kidnaps Seaton's fiancee, Dorothy Vaneman, and carries her off into space. Seaton and Crane pursue DuQuesne in their own spaceship. DuQuesne is caught and Dorothy is rescued, and Seaton and Crane discover the inhabited world of Osnome. The Osnomians welcome them with open arms. At this point the book bogs down: the rest of the book is a long, boring description of the love story, culminating in a wedding. It's a short book anyway, and to spend half of it on the love interest is unforgivable.

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