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Comment: 1947 hardcover with dust jacket. Book is tightly bound and clean inside. Dust jacket is worn and chipped around the edges.
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The Skylark of Space Hardcover – 1947

4.3 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Skylark Series

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Hadley Publishing Company; 2nd Edition edition (1947)
  • ASIN: B002EZJX4I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,066,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm guessing a lot of folks who've reviewed these books experienced them in the original printings, prior to Star Wars and the mass-popularization of space opera. I didn't- I "discovered" Doc in the late-80's as a teenager, and have become a huge fan. But heed the warnings of "camp" and "cheese": if there were an MST3K of books, his would be regular fodder. The gender stereotypes and roles as well as the frequent commission (and implicit condonement) of genocide by the heroes in particular are very hard to get past for a modern reader. Character development is non-existant (all protagonists are basically Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts), dialogue is awkward and unbelievably cheesy, genocide is repeatedly condoned, and the fact that the books were originally written as serials is painfully evident (almost every chapter ends with a CLIFFHANGER!). If you are a conesseur of camp, these books are a *rich* source of material.
But what I love about Doc's books is not rooted in irony: the incredible creativity in visualizing advanced technology, fast-forward and entertaining action plots, and the sheer scale of the "build up" within each book and from one book to another.
Technology: Although very quaint by modern standards (especially in "Skylark of Space"), put in context the creativity Doc displays in envisioning future technology is second to none. Not in terms of "accuracy", but in terms of their self-consistency and imaginativeness. Skylark was written pre-television, pre-laser, pre-NASA, and pre-nuke. What Doc built from that base is incredible, entertaining, and fun, viewed from the perspective that even relativity was a comparatively new theory when it was written (Doc obviously knew about it, and chose to ignore it).
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Format: Paperback
... There Was Doc Smith. "The Skylark of Space" was first written somewhere around the turn of the century. Some modifications were done to it before its publication in 1928, and in the 1950s Doc did some updating, but the vast majority of the story remains unchanged. "Skylark" was a revolutionary story of its time, featuring super-science, far-ranging adventure (it may be the very first story to take place beyond the bounds of the Solar System), and (for its genre) well-developed characters. Dated in many ways by today's standards, "The Skylark of Space" is still a hell of a yarn, and the spiritual ancestor of every great space adventure written since. Buy it and read it. It's a piece of SF history.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the original, classic space opera. I read it 30 odd years ago and it was already 30 odd years old! It predates E.E. Smith's better known Lensmen series and in many ways is better. (I don't remember the Lensmen stories but I do remember the Skylark series.) It begins with the classic brilliant, slightly mad scientist, Dick Seaton, except he's young and hunkish with a gorgeous and high-class girlfriend, Dorothy. (Her parents oppose the romance but she's loyal to her Dick.) Enter the brilliant, mad-scientist villain named Blackie. He kidnaps Dorothy. I'm happy to say she tries to kick butt, kicks the instrument panel of the space ship instead and they're off on a grand tour of outer space with our hero in hot pursuit. There's another girl and another guy and the book is climaxed by a double-wedding on an alien planet with an alien race in attendance. Of course Blackie is defeated (but only temporarily so he can show up again in the next book), and they all go home to live happily ever after until the next adventure (which will occur in about 5 minutes,) Yes, it's dated and corny and, if you think about it, extremely silly. My advice is, don't think about it. Just read it and enjoy. This is an excellent book to introduce early teenagers to a sense of wonder and adventure and awe at the vastness and mystery of the universe.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the last of the Skylark books, and in true Smith style the scale is grander than ever. Seaton and Duquesne, who have long been enemies, must pool their resources and work togeather against the most formidable opponent either has ever seen - not a hostile ship, or ruler, or even a planet, but an entire galaxy militarized by the Chlorians! This has all the qualities readers have come to identify as E.E. "Doc" Smith - powerful weapons, powerful enemies, and unstoppable heros, but in this novel the character of Duquesne assumes more complexity than any other Smith character I can recall. He is definitely the most interesting - a criminal, power hungry, brilliant, yet at the same time he will never break his word, even when it could mean achieving his goals. Cold and heartless, logical to a degree unapproached by any other human character Smith wrote save Fernidad Stone, yet possessing no hatred for even his archrival, Seaton. This book is very highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
I think I'd give this 5 stars, just for being the original... if it WERE the original. E. E. Smith did some serious re-writing on this one, sometime during the 1950s. In this version, Greedo shoots first.

Okay, that's a joke, but the Star Wars fan-boys get what I mean. I didn't want something revised, with mushroom clouds and television sets. I wanted something written in 1915. I think that's when Smith claimed to have started "Skylark of Space".

Anyway, it's still a fun story, and since it sets you up for "Skylark 3" and "Skylark of Valeron" (both better written and more engaging), it's important reading. I think I'm like a lot of people who read something this old-- I'm trying to fill in the cracks in my understanding of the progression of sci-fi. It's an entertaining history lesson.

I can still glean what the untouched book must have been, but I wish I could actually read the original version. If you can find that one, read it. If you can't, read this one.

***UPDATE*** I've just discovered that Project Gutenberg has the original "Skylark of Space," taken from the 1928 Amazing Stories, available as a FREE html download. It includes the original cover and interior artwork. So what are you waiting for?
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