Subspace Explorers

by E. E. "Doc" Smith
Series: Subspace 1
Reviewed date: 2007 Jul 10
Rating: 2
255 pages
cover art

I knew Doc Smith was a Commie-hating freedom-loving libertarian capitalist, but Subspace Explorers is over the top. Smith shows us the establishment of the Galactic Federation, a benevolent interplanetary government. The prime movers behind the Galaxian movement are corporate bigwigs: Upton Maynard of Galactic Metals, Lansing of WarnOil, Stevens Spehn of InStell, and so on. They operate on the principle of Enlightened Self-Interest, which is a sort of utopian version of laissez-faire capitalism. Enlightened Self-Interest is the dominant philosophy on all planets save one: Earth.

Earth is a corrupt hive filled with enemies of the Galaxianism. There are half a dozen factions.

  • Western hemisphere (WestHem) government - Corrupt money-grubbing politicians who promise the citizens everything.
  • Labor unions of WestHem - The labor bosses demand exorbitant wages, fight progress and automation at every turn, and have all but strangled Earth's economy.
  • Corrupt capitalists of WestHem - A breed of corrupt capitalists (to be distinguished from the ethical, enlightened Galaxian form of capitalism) abuses its workers. Punsunby of Plastics is the worst offender: Plastics owns its own secret planet where a billion people work in slavery their entire lives.
  • EastHem - The Communist half of Earth, ruled by the Nameless One of the East, opposes freedom in all its forms.
  • New Russia - A cabal within EastHem has established New Russia, a network of secret planets that will form the new USSR when the inevitable nuclear war wipes out life on Earth.

The machinations of the Galactic Federation are dull. When the corporations of Galaxia refuse to pay the ridiculous wages demanded by Labor, the unions go on strike. Galaxia responds with force. When EastHem seizes an opportunity to start a nuclear war, the Galaxian fleet shoots down all the missiles from each side; Earth is saved. Galaxia immediately liberates EastHem and sets up a provisional government. The citizens of EastHem quickly choose to support Galaxianism.

WestHem, despite being ostensibly freer, is less easily swayed. Galaxia tries to steal an election, and nearly succeeds--but WestHem votes to reject membership in the Galactic Federation.

The trickiest problem is New Russia. Its fleet is bigger, and it has a bigger industrial base than Galaxia. Fortunately, Galaxia uses some new secret weapons and manages to destroy the enemy fleet. The rank and file Communist citizens will be reeducated and integrated into Galaxian society; the Communist leaders will be shown the truth, and the intelligent ones will accept the Principle of Enlightened Self-Interest eagerly.

Notice I didn't mention any characters. That's because there aren't any memorable ones. Subspace Encounter is more about establishing the perfect society than about people.

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