Perilous Planets: Michael Resnick’s Ganymede
Last winter – partly in preparation for getting back to work on Perils On Planet X after a long period away from the project – I was reading a lot of interplanetary fantasy adventure. I re-read all of the Leigh Brackett books I had, as well as Gardner Fox’s two “Llarn” novels, and delved deeper into the works of Otis Adelbert Kline – the most successful of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ contemporary pulp-era imitators.
I also scoured the Internet for novels in the genre that I hadn’t encountered before, and came across two early works by the acclaimed, multiple Hugo Award-winning “hard” science fiction author Michael D. Resnick: The Goddess of Ganymede, and its sequel, Pursuit on Ganymede.
The books were published in the late 1960s, when paperback reprints of Burroughs’ Martian and Venus tales were selling tremendous numbers, and nearly all of the major sci-fi publishers were flooding the market with similar material (some of it reprints from the pulps, others all-new pastiches) to satisfy the voracious appetites of readers who wanted more tales of high adventure set on alien worlds. These two books – which I believe were Resnick’s first published novels – are firmly planted in the Burroughs tradition.
The hero of these books, Adam Thane, is an American astronaut sent on a top secret probe to Jupiter (before the Moon landings!), who crashes on that planet’s largest moon, Ganymede, and discovers not only a breathable atmosphere and hospitable environment, but – in rapid succession – a race of winged birdmen, sword-wielding humans, and a tyrannical race of mindbending, immortal “gods.” In the second book, he embarks on a quest that takes him to the “far side” of Ganymede – a post-Atomic wasteland, populated by mutants and strange civilizations.
So… pretty much all of the typical sword & planet conventions. These books came very early in Resnick’s career, and lack the polished prose and stylistic sophistication of his later work. Still, they are perfectly fine, fast-paced (and short!) adventure novels, packed with plenty of blood & thunder.
The two volumes are long out of print, and it took me a bit of searching online to track down copies, but I’m glad I did. They were fun to read, and succeeded in providing additional inspiration for Perils On Planet X. If you’re a fan of the genre – and if not, what are you doing here? – they’re worth hunting up, especially if you can find them at a reasonable price.