The Planet Strappers – Raymond Z. Gallun

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A group of young wanna-be astronauts raise funds to get into space, then go their own ways until a threat brings them together again.

I think the only other Gallun I had read previously was a best-of collection, many years back. I quite liked some of the stories, and looked forward to this longer work. Unfortunately, this novel was pretty weak.

Even given the time it was written, and allowing for the simplistic “have spaceuit, will travel” plot, there’s just not a lot here. Gallun creates a moderately likeable lead character, but fails to flesh out the rest of the crew – most are two-dimensional stereotypes. Women in particular get short shrift, but that at least goes with the period, as does the thin plot.

The real problem is that there’s not much depth to the story or the characters. Things happen, and people do things, but it’s not really clear why, or why we should care. All in all, the book feels like a hasty draft. It might have been better off as a short story, and it’s possible that Gallun was simply a better writer at that length.

All in all, not really a waste of time, but there are far better options available, including Gallun’s shorter work.

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