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Space Vulture by Gary K. Wolf
Review by Andrew Brooks
Tor Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765318527
Date: 04 March 2008 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Space Vulture Website / Show Official Info /

The collaboration for Space Vulture began nearly 50 years ago when Gary K. Wolf (creator of Roger Rabbit) and John J. Myers (now an archbishop) discovered a pulp adventure yarn titled Space Hawk. It was the first science fiction either boy had read, leaving an impression that would later translate into Space Vulture. It's an homage to the story that introduced them to ray guns and rockets, and their attempt to evoke nostalgia in those who grew up reading stories like Space Hawk.

This may or may not put younger readers at a disadvantage. Not having read the kind of adventure pulps the authors are aiming to imitate, and therefore having no nostalgic connection to those earlier stories, might be similar to being handed, say, a Star Wars novel when you've never seen the movies or owned a Death Star lunch pail.

That George Lucas based his movies on the types of tales Wolf and Myers are emulating does, however, show that the authors aren't the only ones still hungry for stories that are less about how a starship works and more about providing a stage to pit the good guys vs. the bad ones. Because, ultimately, that's what Space Vulture is at its core: a galactic showdown between the hero who is honor bound to a fault and an evil space pirate with a galaxy-wide ego and a horde of mindless minions to carry out his plans for universal domination.

The story begins when Victor Corsaire, a galactic marshal famous not only for his success at bringing the bad guys to justice but also for his reputation as the most honorable man in space, is ambushed by the nefarious space pirate Space Vulture while he was transporting a criminal on the planet Verlinap. Space Vulture then captures Corsaire and the planet administrator Cali Russell, as well as most of the entire colony, before setting off to auction the hero to 12 of the galaxy's most wanted criminals. Cali's two sons and the prisoner Corsaire had been transporting, Gil Terry, then have to join forces to rescue the boys' mother and the lawman that Gil loathes and fears.

The plot then becomes a series of escalating confrontations that pull all of the characters back together for the final battle with Space Vulture, with enough action and ray gun play to satisfy any space-adventure buff.

It is the same type of story that fills modern book shelves with the further exploits of Luke and Co., but one that might connect more with readers who remember a time before the movies. That's not a knock on the novel at all, though, because it does zip along at a steady, rocket fast pace. It just may not resonate with the younger reader the way it most likely will with the generation that was reading about ray guns and intergalactic marshals before light sabers and Force chokes were hip.

Wolf and Myers tell a good story filled with campy fun and a likable hero, but since the story was built from the nostalgia of another era it might not appeal to everyone. Which is too bad, because it appears that the authors have perfectly channeled the kind of pulp adventure tale in Space Vulture that has greatly influenced later generations.

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