PARODY OR TRIBUTE?

by Alan Greene
STAR SMASHERS OF THE GALAXY RANGERS is Harry Harrison's parody of, or affectionate tribute to, the pulp stories he read as a kid, and is more specifically a parody of EE 'Doc' Smith's THE SKYLARK OF SPACE. I thought it might be interesting to compare the two, to see where Harry's exaggerated story originally came from. There isn't space here to carry the comparisons too far, but we can get the feel of both books, which you should read together.

THE SKYLARK OF SPACE begins with the hero, Richard Seaton, making an unexpected discovery:

"Petrified with astonishment, Richard Seaton stared after the copper steam-bath.. .a speck in the distance."

Seaton had been electrolysing "his solution of 'X', the unknown metal".

STAR SMASHERS also begins with a discovery; when Jerry Courteney puts a piece of cheddar, for a joke, on the target area of their home-made particle accelerator. 'X' becomes cheddar, and instead of displacing a steam bath, the machine displaces the land lady's cat.

HEROES:

THE GIRLS: THE BEST FRIEND: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS: FIRST CONTACT: The crew of the Skylark take sides against the ugly aliens; UGLY=BAD, right? Harrison has the crew of the Pleasantville Eagle do the same: Both parties of heroes side with the most human looking aliens. But have both sides made the right decision? Read the books if you want to find out. Read E.E. 'Doc' Smith's THE SKYLARK OF SPACE first - it's good old fashioned SF - then read Harry's STAR SMASHERS OF THE GALAXY RANGERS; see what parallels you can spot, and see what comments Harrison makes about the short comings of pulp fiction in his exaggerations of them.