Avengers of the Moon by Allen Steele

avengersTo be honest, I don’t really know if I’ve read a lot of pulp fiction or not – although I think maybe Edgar Rice-Burroughs and even Ray Bradbury qualify?  It sounds a little like a derogatory term doesn’t it but basically, pulp fiction was a cheap way of mass producing highly entertaining, fast paced adventure stories and in doing so bringing reading to the masses and allowing them to escape into any number of fantasy worlds  – even delving into deepest space and beyond.

In Avengers of the Moon Allen Steele has managed to resurrect an action hero from the 1940s/50s, to give him a new injection of life with a new and original beginning and also coupled this with a slightly more modern feel.  What Steele also manages to do is evoke a wonderfully nostalgic feeling when reading the book that makes you cast back into your mind to past television series.  You know the ones I mean, the old tv sci fi series that always started with a voice over at the beginning.  Yes, as I started Avengers of the Moon I couldn’t help reading the introduction with ‘that voice’ in my head and it simultaneously made me smile and hooked me.  I’m not going to suggest that this is a great literary work but it is an entertaining story that made for a very easy and slightly, at times, crazy read.  A popcorn book.  A book of pulp fiction.

The story does have a little bit of setting up to do.  We learn of Curt Newton, an orphan raised by a robot, an android and a disembodied brain (that of a renowned scientist).  It may have been a somewhat lonely existence until this point and maybe Curt lacks a few social graces but nobody can deny that it has been interesting.  Curt’s parents were murdered when he was still a baby.  Their murderer has never been brought to justice and in fact has become a powerful figure in society.  You could say that Curt has been almost in training for the moment when he would be able to go after his parents’ murderer (even if he wasn’t aware that was the case until this point).  He’s had the benefit of much attention, education and training during his early life and all of these aspects are about to be brought into sharp focus as he embarks on a mission of revenge – or justice.  Of course, things don’t go completely to plan and before Curt can say ‘reverse the particle flow of he flux capacitor and beam me up’ he’s tangled up in a plot of assassination and Captain Future is born.

If you want a fairly fast paced adventure story from deepest space, a bunch of laughs that arise from the strangest situations involving robots, androids and disembodied brains and all the awkward moments and odd conversations that they bring to the story, plus gadgets galore and updated sci fi then look no further.  I guess the first half of the story had something of a set up feel but I think that’s to be expected.  We’re pretty soon thrown into chaos as Captain Future gets to work.  There are some very comical situations courtesy of his companions – not least  Joan Randall of the Interplanetary Police Force – who it seems Curt has something of a crush on – if only he knew what a crush was!  I think this aspect was well handled.  Pulp fiction of old did tend to portray women as pure mind candy (not to mention the women were usually draped, very scantily clad across the covers).  In this potential situation for romance, Joan is certainly very easy on the eye (as is Curt for that matter), but I didn’t find Joan’s portrayal dismissive at all or purely ornamental – she had a real role to play, she is a respected member of the IPF and on top of that she makes Curt nervous and embarassed  (not to mention saving his ass on occasion).  That being said this is the Captain Future’s story and so you would expect Curt to shine through more strongly.

In terms of criticisms.  Not much to write about really.  I think there was an element of cheesiness going on – but I actually liked it and thought it added to the story to be honest. I think there was definitely a set up type feel, I think the story lulled a little bit towards the middle and then in contrary fashion had a very speedy ending and I would have liked the ‘baddies’ to be a bit more down right bad.

Other than that, this was a fun read.  Easy to engage with and even though I’d never heard of Captain Future before I would definitely read more of his adventures if those were in the offing.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

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12 Responses to “Avengers of the Moon by Allen Steele”

  1. sjhigbee

    A great review, Lynn – this was great fun, wasn’t it?

    • @lynnsbooks

      It actually was. I had a few minor issues but as a starting point (and I hope it was a starting point) I think it’s great. What I really love is that Steele has taken a book that he loved and encouraged his own reading and given it a makeover which will hopefully appeal to a whole new generation as well as appealing to the original readers as well. It’s a great idea.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        And that was what I liked so much about this one – inevitably, the original books written in this era feel very dated and male-focused. I also love the way he gently sends up the whole Captain Future thing, while also embracing it.

      • @lynnsbooks

        Yeah, I liked that he was very tongue in cheek about the whole Captain Future thing.
        Lynn 😀

  2. Book Club Mom

    Great review – so fun to see what different genres are out there!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It really is. There’s something for everyone really.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    This sounds like the perfect book to “rest” between more serious stories, a breath of fresh air and a return of sorts to the simpler, entertaining reads of a younger age. And how could I resist to “robots, androids and disembodied brains”?
    (and do all three walk into a bar, by any chance? LOL LOL)

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha – yes, they actually do (at one point). Check out the cover – you can see the disembodied brain floating in it’s capsule, the robot, the android and the human. Love it.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Definitely cheesy, but I think that was what he was going for, so that’s good. I still think I would have enjoyed this a lot more if I’d been familiar with the character. As it is though, this was a nice introduction and I had fun, but I don’t know if it sparked my interest enough to make me want to pick up more 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I did have fun with this. It was light and entertaining and now that Captain Future is established, yes, I would read the next one. I think it needs to gather some depth now – put some meat on the bones so I’d read the next to see how it compares.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Carl V. Anderson

    I snagged a copy of this right away when it came out. I’m feeding a fantasy itch right now, so once that passes I look forward to this being my return to science fiction. It sounds fun.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was fun – I hadn’t heard of Captain Future before but I liked that Steele brought out an updated version which manages to feel a little more modern and yet still hold onto a retro feel.
      I hope you enjoy it.
      What fantasy are you reading?

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