In this bi-weekly series reviewing classic science fiction and fantasy books, Alan Brown looks at the front lines and frontiers of the field; books about soldiers and spacers, scientists and engineers, explorers and adventurers. Stories full of what Shakespeare used to refer to as “alarums and excursions”: battles, chases, clashes, and the stuff of excitement.
We live in a world of “re-”: reboots, remakes, and reworkings of all manners of myth and entertainment. Sometimes overtly and sometimes more subtly, old favorites are made new again—and often, they are all the worse for the wear, and the new version cannot stand up to the original. But such is not the case of the recent novel Avengers of the Moon, by Allen Steele, an adventure featuring the pulp hero Captain Future, which I will be comparing to the original novel which started the series, Captain Future and the Space Emperor by Edmond Hamilton. In this case, I’m pleased to report that the new book is a success—one in which we see the exuberant energy of the pulps channeled into a new and more scientifically plausible setting. [Read more]