CAP KENNEDY: GALAXY OF THE LOST by E. C. Tubb
Galaxy of the Lost first came out in the 1970s. I bought a copy because the cover reminded me of the Doc Savage books I was still reading, which the cover was supposed to do. But I never got around to reading it. The book is somewhere in a box, packed away for the day when I finally get a place big enough to hold THOUSANDS of paperbacks.
However, an ereader holds THOUSANDS of books these days, and makes them much easier to find. Also, SF Gateway is now publishing ebooks of old science fiction I read as a kid – or, in some cases, missed because I could never find them in the used book stores I haunted.
Originally, the Cap Kennedy series was published under the pseudonym Gregory Kern, but now they’re being published under the author’s real name, E. C. Tubb. SF fans will recognize the author as the writer who penned the Dumarest of Terra books, which became a pop culture icon. As a weird aside, Tubb was a British writer, but there were more Cap Kennedy novels published in the United States than in England.
The Dumarest books are hard-edged and bleak. The Cap Kennedy novels are mean to be reading fluff and succeed as that. However, I wasn’t as enchanted with the book as I’d hoped I’d be. Maybe if I’d read it when I was younger I would have had a different reaction.
Cap Kennedy swaggers through the story like a mix between Doc Savage and James Bond. Doc would never have swaggered, but he has the physical prowess and intelligence that Bond never had, so he’s definitely a mash-up. He also has a group of aides that echoes Doc’s crew to a degree as well as a nod to Captain Future.
Galaxy of the Lost starts off interestingly enough, with ships disappearing into some kind of space anomaly, then breaks down into a trek across a dangerous world. On top of that, the world wasn’t developed enough to be really interesting or challenging to me as a reader. I didn’t get sucked up into it the way I should have.
The characters, Cap included, seemed kind of shallow, not enough meat there to fully imagine. They were more like machinations, part of the plot process, rather than being an organic element.
The end came much too fast and much too easy, and was – of course – just in the nick of time. Overall, I was happy enough reading this because I was able to sink back into that kid mindset I’d had back then. But after seeing video games like Halo and Mass Effect that have tons of backstory built into them, some of yesterday’s SF doesn’t stand up like it should. However, in a while, I’ll probably pick up another Cap Kennedy novel to sample. I remember some of the later ones as fun.