Blast from the past: Stories should be fun to read

Back when I was in the Air Force, I found a book in the base book store by a guy of the name of “Dray Prescott”. The book was titled “Beasts of Antares.” Dray Prescott was actually the protagonist, the story was told first person, “As Told To” Alan Burt Akers who I much later learned was a pseudonym for the late Kenneth Bulmer.

I suppose it wasn’t “great literature” but it was fun, it had a moral hero whose primary motivation was devotion to his family (he gets thrown about the world by forces beyond his control and given tasks to complete–and complete them he does since that’s the only way he’s allowed to return back to wife and family), an effort to end slavery on his adopted world, and unite the “civilized” portion of the world to prepare to stave off a potentially civilization-destroying invasion that’s on the way.

Dray was a sailor from late 19th Century Earth, transported to the world of Kregan, around the double star system of Antares making this a tale in the “sword and planet” mold pioneered by Edgar Rice Burroughs and others.

Dray gets caught in a complicated rivalry between two forces, both nominally forces for “good”, the Savanti (humans with some advanced capabilities mixed with sword-swinging adventures) and the Everonye or “Star Lords” who are something else.

The “diffs” that populate Kregen are often little more than humans with an animal head or an extra pair of arms and given to being little more than “racial stereotypes” might make purists cringe. Still, when Bulmer pulled one of the various “diffs” out of the background and made them a character of significance the main characters often learned that there was more to them than just the stereotype of their race.

Although the science is dubious at best, with birds and related animals large enough to carry humans in flight and mixes of minerals that can be used to create anti-gravity airships, other aspects of the story show a remarkable degree of research and thought.

Beasts of Antares, my first exposure to the series, was the 23rd of 38 books that were originally released in the US. (Books originally released in Germany carried the series to 52 volumes.) I bought every book from #23 through to the end and, a few years ago, made a point of completing my collection with the US released versions. I learned at the time that a web site had been releasing ebooks of the later volumes in English but had gone defunct.

Well, just recently I discovered that most of the series (through volume 45) has been released in electronic and paper format. They had plans to do the rest but apparently that’s not happening

So, I have the first “cycle”, starting with volume 1, “Transit to Scorpio” on my iPod Touch and am thoroughly enjoying it.


It all starts here:

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