Short Reviews – Death Star, by Tom Pace

Friday , 10, November 2017 Leave a comment

Death Star by Tom Pace appeared in the Spring 1945 issue of Planet Stories. It can be found here at Archive.org.

In promotional text for Galaxy Magazine, Galaxy bragged you’ll never see “a western transplanted to some alien and impossible planet” in its pages, while attacking straw-Bat Durston’s adventures on the planet Bbllzznaj.

Of all the stories I’ve read and reviewed here at Castalia, Death Star may actually come the closest to “merely a western transplanted to some alien and impossible planet”, but it’s not all bad!

Bat Durston… I mean, Starrett Blade, aka Star Blade, aka “Death Star”, has been hunting the notorious space pirate Devil Garrett when his ship gets downed by an energy beam over Alpha Centauri III.

Devil Garrett has convinced Anne Hinton, the daughter of an arms manufacturer, that he’s Starrett Blade and Starrett Blade is actually the pirate Devil Garrett. He’s got forged documents and everything. The sci-fi twist is Garrett’s developed a method of reverse electrolysis to weaponize the stagnant crater lakes on Alpha Centauri III. Posing as Blade, Garrett lured Anne to the planet and marooned her with him, blaming Garrett/Blade. He’ll execute Blade in front of her while broadcasting it to Interstellar Command headquarters to show the police what he’d gotten away with. Then he’ll use Hinton’s father’s resources to take over the Alpha Centauri system.

I swear I’ve seen the whole fake-swap-identities-to-fool-the-girl plot before in multiple places (usually cops and cowboys, no less!), and I’m going to kick myself over not being able to remember any names off the top of my head (and Face Off doesn’t count, because there was no actual switching of faces here).

So, yeah, basically, a gun-slinging western in outer space, but give me ray-gun slingers fighting over the future of a planet that will either be terraformed or turned into war-world by a new technology and a guy getting the dame in the end over Cat Pictures any day.

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