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The LEGION OF SPACE (Collier Nucleus Fantasy & Science Fiction) Board book – December 10, 1990


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Product Details

  • Series: Collier Nucleus Fantasy & Science Fiction
  • Board book: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner Paper Fiction (December 10, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 002038355X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0020383550
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 1997
Format: Paperback
Isaac Asimov was fascinated by "The Legion of Space" as a boy, but found it unreadable when he came back to it as an adult. This isn't particularly surprising. "The Legion of Space" is a perfect snapshot of 1930's space opera, or "super science stories" as they were known at the time. Reading it for the first time recently, I can only imagine what mind-blowing effect this breathless tale would have had on an imaginative twelve year old in Depression-era America.
No doubt inspired by the sort of adventurous, gadget-oriented science fiction that E.E. Smith began in the late 1920's with "Skylark of Space" and the stories John W. Campbell, Jr. was writing a few short years later, "Legion" takes us into the 30th century with a swashbuckling fight for the solar system. Owing much to "The Three Musketeers," the few remaining members of the Legion travel via hyperspace (remember, this is 1935!!!) to a wandering star populated by the Medusae, who are classic pulp BEMs (Bug Eyed Monsters), complete with gelatinous tentacles. They get to rescue a beautiful girl who is able to build a secret weapon known only as AKKA. Needless to say, the good guys win.
The "super science story" became comic-book fodder within a few years when John W. Campbell, Jr. became editor of "Astounding Science Fiction" magazine (later "Analog"). Campbell presented the world with Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and a host of other writers who took science fiction in a much more serious direction. Williamson, unlike many others, managed to adapt to the world editor Campbell was building. Others did not, or didn't even try (like E.E. Smith).
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By jrmspnc on February 4, 2002
Format: Board book
It is always interesting to read science-fiction written before Childhood's End and Stranger in a Strange Land, back when anything that wasn't human was necessarily evil and bent on humanity's destruction. Most of today's sci-fi's writers go to great lengths to create and explain alien civilizations; not so in The Legion of Space. The aliens are ugly and they want to kill us. Period.
"A reader" has already accurately summed up the novel. I will add only that The Legion of Space is an interesting read for its gender portrayals. As one would expect from the 1930s, the male characters are all obsessed with how fragile and vulnerable the heroine is; they must do whatever they can to protect her and shelter her and the thought of her in danger or even uncomfortable fills them with chauvinistic horror. Williamson allows the men to carry on this way throughout the book, all the while giving us a woman character who needs no protection whatsoever and saves the day herself. No weeping in hysterics for this heroine; Leia-like she leads the escape from the alien fortress while the men hesitate. She and she alone has the secret to the weapon of ultimate destruction, and she unhesitatingly builds it and deploys it. Not bad for 1936, eh?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bromptonboy VINE VOICE on March 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jack Williamson is one of the most noted Grand Masters of Science Fiction. This is one of his earlier works, and has the unmistakeable feel of the era (Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers). It is very dated, but still a 'ripping good' read.

This book introduces one of my favorite characters in all Sci-fi: Gile Habibula - who is loosely based on Falstaff (according the JW himself).

Sit back with this book, and enjoy as the Legion legens (John Ulnar, Hal Samdu, and Giles) - fight the evil members of the reactionairy Purple Hall.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Camp on October 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a space opera in the grand manner, written in the days before the editorship of John W. Campbell, Jr. made much of that genre obsolete. It was serialized in _Astounding_ in 1934, slightly expanded into a hardback published by Fantasy Press in 1947, and reprinted in various forms since that time. The edition that I have at hand is a 1967 Pyramid paperback with a Jack Gaughan cover.

Part of the novel's success rests on Williamson's decision to steal ideas from mainstream literature. The story is a reworking of _The Three Musketeers_. And the character of the roguish Giles Habibula (who steals the show from the others) was modeled partly on Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff and partly on characters from Rabelais. Here he is in action, while being pursued by guards:

"Ah, poor old Giles is dying for a drink. Perishing for one blessed sip of wine! His precious throat is dry as leather. Poor old Giles; lame, feeble, sick old Giles Habibula-- he can't stand this any longer. Climbing till he feels like a mortal mechanical monkey!" (61)

Giles always manages to rise to the occasion, picking locks, refitting engines, fighting-- and whining and complaining every step of the way.

The style is an old-fashioned type that Williamson later outgrew. It is heavily visual, with sharp shapes and bold, strong colors. Here is a scene on a terraformed Phobos:

The _Purple Dream_ dropped upon the landing stage atop the square, titanic tower. Beyond the edge of the platform, when they disembarked, John Star could see the roofs of the building's great wings, glistening expanses of purple stretching out across the vivid green lawn and garden.
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