My life in outer space

The Galaxy Primes – EE ‘Doc’ Smith (1965)

The Galaxy Primes

‘The ship was called the Pleiades, and it was Earth’s first starship. It could travel instantaneously to literally anywhere in the universe – but that was just the trouble with it. For there was absolutely no way of predicting where in the infinities of space it would reappear when it winked out of the Solar System, and no way of knowing how to return.
it’s crew was two men and two women, each a Psionic Prime with mind-powers unparalleled in Earth’s history. The tale of how they pitted their powers against an entire universe is one of the daring adventure on the galactic scale such as could only have been written by science-fiction’s all-time great, Edward E. Smith.’

Blurb from the 1965 Ace paperback edition

A rather odd, late work from Smith in which he once more (as in his Skylark series) sends two couples off across the galaxy in a ship which, rather unimaginatively and improbably, has a Big Red Button. This, when depressed firmly, takes them to a random G-type planet in the universe.
No doubt in order to catch up with the times Smith introduces the tricky subject of sex into his Space Opera. There’s nothing raunchy about it. There’s a lot of talk about ‘pairing’. One couple eventually go off to a cabin together and emerge later for breakfast. In ‘Doc’ Smith terms, this is tantamount to porn.
The couple chosen for this voyage are the elite of Earth, a male and female ‘Prime’ (humans of high intelligence with telepathic, psychokinetic and teleportation powers) and two Gunther Firsts (as above, but with not so many powers).
They visit a succession of Earth-type planets in another galaxy, peopled by humans but with varying customs. Every planet is guarded by another race called the Arpalones who protect Humanity from various (and seemingly pointless) alien attacks.
Returning to our own galaxy after learning how to control the Big Red Button, they again find Humanity on many Planets, each with small numbers of Primes.
They set up what is essentially an ‘Interstellar Primes Club’ and return home to Earth where Belle Bellamy (the female Prime) deduces that the Universe is a vast living organism which has evolved the Arpalones as antibodies for one section of its body, while the Primes will do it in their own galaxy; ordinary Humanity being put in the role of blood cells, and evil aliens as diseases.
Once again, even at this late date, Smith throws in the quite agreeable (to all involved) concept of genocide, as when our heroic four help the Arpalones to wipe out a species of man-faced flying tiger which has been menacing the locals.
Also, quite absurdly, they save another world from Communism. Somehow, in this entirely separate galaxy, the Communist leaders have evolved Russian names.
From the author of ‘the Skylark’ and ‘Lensman’ series, this is a very sad point to which to sink.


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