SPACEWAYS #7 THE MANHUNTRESS BY JOHN CLEVE

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Copyright 1982.

Lizina Harith the former slave known as Coppertop has escaped. She manages to make it back to her home world where she has a fortune. She uses this fortune to mount her quest for vengeance against those that sold her into slavery. Buying her own ship and crewing it with former slaves she sets out to take out the vile captain that sold her and the men responsible for kidnapping her. Meanwhile her lover Dorjan continues his quest for her. He also rescues a beautiful feline alien that was also captured. An alien that reveals she comes from a federation of three species. A place that could offer sanctuary for the former slaves of the colony HOME.

This book was cowritten by George Proctor along with Andrew Offutt. Proctor did write two V TV series novelizations from the eighties that I love so I have some positive experience with him. I think this is the best of the series that I have read so far. Proctor is a good influence on the writing. There doesn’t seem to be the meandering that is usually found in Offutt’s writing. The story was just an interesting read from beginning to end. Lizina had some very innovative ways to carry out her revenge. All these vile and evil people got their just desserts. A side plot with Dorjan has him rescuing the feline alien and finding out about this new alien federation. Ends with a positive of Lizina and Dorjan being reunited and going off with their people to a new home world where they can live in freedom.

SPACEWAYS #6 PURRFECT PLUNDER BY JOHN CLEVE

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Copyright 1982.

The freighter India Springs is under attack by pirates. Captain Jonuta a slaver decides to come to the rescue. His ship successfully takes over the pirate ship. He finds that the ship has two unique passengers. The HReenee are a feline type of alien that was recently discovered and two of them a male and female are passengers. Well naturally Jonuta takes a liking to the exotic female and gets into a sexual relationship with her. The male decides to torture the captive pirates because that is what cat people like to do. He unfortunately screws up and the pirates get free. Jounuta has to defeat them and also at the ends fights with his archrival Captain Corundum.

The entry in the series is OK. It is competently written and does keep your interest. Unfortunately, it does have some problems. First is while the plot is consistent it hangs around too long in one place. The whole book is mostly about this one location in space. The freight gets attacked. Jonuta comes to the rescue. Pirates escape. Get recaptured. Fill in stuff with Jonuta being magnanimous and giving the freighter captain the captured pirate ship. Ends with a space battle where he wins, and it is uncertain if Corundum is actually dead or alive.

Another problem is the character of Jonuta. He is a rapist and slaver. Not a really lovable character. Sure in this book he is portrayed as an honorable man. Of course, he plans to sell the captured pirate crew into slavery. Perhaps they deserve it but still a very sleazy enterprise the guy is in. Still the book doesn’t have the boring parts that characterized his first four books. Not as good as the fifth but still an improvement.

SPACEWAYS #5 MASTER OF MISFIT BY JOHN CLEVE

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Copyright 1982.

Lizina Harith though she left her old life behind when she married a rich man on the planet Franji. A recent widow she decided to go out and got herself kidnapped by slavers. She was sold to the evil Kukis and his sadistic lesbian first mate. Tortured and drugged to be docile, she is sold to Ganesh. Ganesh runs a spaceship that is a brothel and goes traveling to far-flung planets in the void. Now known as Coppertop because of her red hair, Lizina is destined to be sold a mail order bride. Only she meets a mysterious man who frees her. Dorjan is a former gladiator slave that was bioengineered with wings. Now he leads a group of former slaves and has founded a colony. Called HOME and it is inside a former mining asteroid. He has plans to turn the asteroid into a spaceship and find a suitable planet to colonize. Only Ganesh finds the colony and raids it. She kills a number of the inhabitants and takes back Lizina. She is sold to a cruel man on a small mining planet. Dorjan has to track her down and take revenge on Ganesh.

Wow this book in the series is actually really good. I guess Andrew Offutt can write if he wants too. The first four books were written at once and seems to show it. I guess when he found out the series was going to continue, he decided to actually write a good book. Sort of a reboot with new characters. What sets this apart from the last books is that there are likable characters in it. Sure, the bad guys are very bad, but I genuinely liked the main characters. Dorjan this escaped slave has a noble goal to free slaves and set up a home for them. The romance between him and Lizina is genuine. You really feel for the characters and what they go through. The way Dorjan got revenge on Ganesh was very ingenious. Lizina also manages to escape. Sets up a great way to continue the story.

SPACEWAYS #4 SATANA ENSLAVED BY JOHN CLEVE

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Copyright 1982.

The spaceship Satana was forced to crash-land on an ice world after the treacherous attack by the pirate Corundum. They are captured by the natives a furred humanoid race and taken to their underground city. They are on the world of Knor and when the sun cooled the survivors retreated to an underground city called Survival. The inhabitants drug the crew with a mind control drug and make them sex slaves. Yet the drug doesn’t work on Janja or the Jarp Cinnabar. Trafalgar also didn’t get a full dose and starts to regain control of his mind. They manage to eventually get together and stage a breakout. They make it to their ship and escape.

The fourth entry in this series is definitely a weird one. This cover is the one I most remember seeing when I was young. I wondered what this was about and now I have to wonder no more. There is a fair amount of bondage type stuff in the book. One of the characters likes to stuff his soiled underwear in women’s mouths and then tape them up. You have to wonder where someone would come up with that. Anyway, the book has moments of interest and boredom as the other books in the series. Seems like Offutt has to always pad the book and there is usually a fairly interesting beginning and ending with a dull middle. This book had some humor like the Jarp was kept because his alien language sounded like music and was used to entertain them at dinner. Of course, he was calling them all sorts of names and insulting them in his language. The crew also wanted to introduce violence to their captors which I found an interesting way of putting it. After they start introducing violence the book really picks up.

SPACEWAYS #3 ESCAPE FROM MACHO BY JOHN CLEVE

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Copyright 1982.

Janja is now with Hellfire and the crew of Satana. They make a trip to the mining colony of Mott-chindi or as its derisively called Macho. This is because it is a mining colony made up mostly of men. While on the surface a revolution breaks out. It kills two of the crewmembers and the other three have to fight their way through the chaos. Hellfire and her crew manage to hijack a policer cruiser and make it to the spaceport. There they hook up with a colorful rogue named Trafalgar Cuw. He is secretly an agent of the mining corporation and manages to get the ship free. Yet while they are traveling, Corundum finds them and attached a lampray mine to the ship to get back at Janja leaving him. The ship is forced to make a crash landing on an ice planet to remove the mine.

This third book in the series is probably the most tightly plotted in the series so far. It introduces some fun action right off the bat with the revolt on Macho. The first half of the book deals with them escaping. They get a roguish good-looking man in Trafalgar Cuw. He is so good he can convert the lesbians of the crew of Satana to heterosexuality. Yes, it still has its goofy sex. The second half deals with some more mundane stuff. We get a glimpse of Jonuta and his lover as they watch the newest movie from Akima Mars the sexy secret agent and her largest warheads in the galaxy. Ends with them crashing on an ice world which will be the main plot for the next book.

SPACEWAYS #2 CORUNDUM’S WOMAN BY JOHN CLEVE

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Copyright 1982.

Janja the escaped slave has now joined up with the pirate captain Corundum. Corundum is a charming rogue but it soon becomes apparent that he is also a ruthless killer. He manages to destroy a ship of the TGO (Transgalactic Order or the The Grey Organization), a secretive police force. Corundum manages to put the blame on his enemy Captain Jonuta the slaver. Jonuta now has all his bank accounts drained and finds himself on the run. Janja decides that she grows tired of being with Corundum. So at the first chance she gets, she defects to the pirate captain Hellfire’s ship Satana. An all lesbian and one Jarp (a hermaphrodite race with both male and female organs.) Naturally she is introduced to the joys of lesbianism.

The second book in the series is an improvement over the first. It has a more tightly plotted story. It still suffers from the last in being a bit boring. There are huge parts that seem to go on with nothing happening. Janja still hasn’t got her revenge. Offutt has a way of going on about mundane things that go nowhere. Still, it is an improvement, and I will say the third book is also a bigger improvement.

SPACEWAYS #1 OF ALIEN BONDAGE BY JOHN CLEVE

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Copyright 1982.

Captain Jonuta is a slaver in the far future when humanity has settled the galaxy. He goes to the planet Aglaya which is a primitive world that is supposedly protected by the galactic authorities. Yet he kidnaps Janja a beautiful white-haired woman to sell into slavery. She gets sold to some sadistic sadists that follow the Marque de Sade on the planet Resh. She escapes after taking her revenge and meets up with another fellow Aglayan who helps her escape the planet. She sets out for revenge on Jonuta who killed her lifemate and sold her into slavery. At the end she hooks up with Captain Corundum who is a pirate and enemy of Jonuta.

I remember these books at the drugstore when I was a young teen. They had such colorful covers, but I wasn’t into reading that young. The series was published by Playboy press because of the adult nature of the series. I have heard this called “science fiction for adults” or “soft porn for sf fans.” I found some at a bookstore and decided to check them out.

The first ten were written by Andrew Offutt under the house name John Cleve. While Offutt had some respectable work in sword and sorcery most notably three Conan novel, his main body of work was sleazy porn books in the seventies. He wrote such gems as Bondage Babes, Fruit of the Loin, and Swallow the Leader. I guess whatever pays the bills. The idea has some promise. A pulpy sci-fi series with a bit of sex thrown in. Unfortunately, the first book was a bit boring. Not a lot happened and it just kind of meandered along. The sex was plentiful but not very erotic and quite boring. One whole chapter on describing chemicals is guaranteed to put you to sleep. Hopefully it improves.

BLACK STAR RISING BY FREDERIK POHL

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Copyright 1985.

It is 100 years after a nuclear war destroyed the United States and the Soviet Union. This left the populous nations of China and India in charge. They divided the world up. Castor is a 22-year-old worker at the Heavenly Rice Collective Farm in Biloxi Mississippi. He dreams of going into space but that is highly unlikely for an American in a country reduced to a Chinese colony. One day he finds a head of a murdered Han Chinese while working the rice field. This starts a series of events that introduce him to Manyface. A high party Chinese cadre that has implanted parts of the brains of eleven people. One of these is the mother of his divorced wife. She gets Manyface to take Castor as a houseboy and eventually he gets admitted to the university.

Then a spaceship comes with an ultimatum. They demand to speak to the President of the United States. They destroy all life on a Pacific Island to show they are serious. The problem is there hasn’t been a President or United States for over a century. Castor gets elected to the job and embarks on a journey to the alien’s home world. He finds that the Erks have joined forces with descendants of American astronauts to free America. Only problem is the Erks have a tendency to destroy all life on the worlds that they help. Now with his companions he has to prevent the Erks from helping the planet Earth out of existence.

My first Pohl book and I found it an interesting read. A very strange book. The alien Erks are actually pets from a more advanced species that genetically engineered them. So, some are smart, and others are dumb. This race which they refer to as the Living Gods destroyed themselves in a biological war. Now the Erks are obsessed with helping to liberate the oppressed of the galaxy. They treat war as a game and always get out of hand and destroy the entire planet. The astronauts’ decedents have a society they formed by harvesting all the eggs and artificially bringing them to term. They currently have a population of 8,500 with 8,450 being women.

I liked this book. It starts out a more traditional one in the first half. Then with the alien’s society it gets really weird. It has some funny moments. Like the Chinese have a remake the movie High Noon. In it the high party cadre comes to a village and confronts the anti-party elements. He forces them to self-criticize themselves before getting them sent off to a reeducation camp. An interesting book that had a unique premise. Worth your time if you want something different to read.

PRINCE OF SPARTA BY JERRY POURNELLE S.M. STIRLING

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Copyright 1993.

Sparta has won a great victory over the Helots. Yet the survivors have escaped and with continued support from Senator Bronson have regrouped and rearmed. They continue a guerrilla war with acts of terrorism. They also get help from Bronson’s influence over the CoDominium fleet. They increase the flow of involuntary colonists to give the Helots more recruits and blockade the planet economically. In spite of this, the Spartans manage to deal the Helots a decisive blow at a battle, and it looks like they will defeat them. Only the CoDominium has collapsed, and Bronson’s faction enters the fight on the side of the Helots. Sparta and the Legion have a final battle that will decide the fate of not only Sparta but the future of mankind.

The final book in the series is the best of the series. It is a brilliant study in Low Intensity Conflicts of the twentieth century. That time when two superpowers would support guerilla movements. The guerillas existed solely because of outside support and safe havens to operate from. How the guerrilla movement starts out as a hit and run force to a conventional force. Also, how this movement is effectively fought. A really exciting ending that shows how a free and well-armed people can resist such a movement.

Naturally they win with help from defecting fleet personnel and ends with them basically declaring fealty to the Spartan king as the Roman emperors of old were. I love the characters including the Spartan king Lysander. A man who inspired his troops to fight on in adversity. The Helot leader Skilly who is a complete psychopath and massacres innocent women and children to achieve her goal.

Sadly, Pournelle decided to abandon writing at this time and go into retirement. I would have loved to see more stories about this fascinating universe. How Sparta continued on after the fall of the CoDominium and built the Spartan Hegemony. Falkenberg’s Legion series is my favorite of Pournelle’s work. I never get tired of rereading them.

GO TELL THE SPARTANS BY JERRY POURNELLE S.M. STIRLING

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Copyright 1991.

A regiment of Falkenberg’s Legion has come to Sparta to set up a standing army for them. They came just in time for Senator Bronson has been financing an insurgency. The Liberation Army of Sparta or the Helots have started to flex their muscles. They start with terrorism and low intensity guerilla war. There is also a traitor in the form of a Spartan senator named Dion Croser. He leads the political segment of the Non-Citizen Liberation Front or NCLF. A series of high-profile terrorist attacks shows the level of power they have achieved. Bronson has hired the best mercenaries in the form of technoninjas from the planet Meiji. The story culminates in a big battle between the Helots and the untried Spartan Royal Army. A battle where the Helots use poison gas to try and deliver a final blow.

Pournelle decided to get Stirling to help him with the further adventures of Falkenberg’s Legion. I can see his influence in the pseudo encyclopedia entries at the beginning of each chapter that deals with some fictional history or place the chapter deals with. I think the character of Skilly the Belizean gang leader turned Maoist guerilla is also his creation. The action now comes to the planet Sparta which is the future place where the Empire of Man is formed. We explore this fascinating society founded by American intellectuals based on the freedoms of the old America. It does have a society of freedom and the ability of upward mobility. They are a democracy but have a dual monarchy based on the Sparta of Greece. The reasoning is that politicians became too shortsighted, and they wanted leaders that were in it for the long haul. Not really sure a hereditary monarchy is the answer, but it is definitely true the politicians of current era are only concerned with the next short term election cycle.

This book does a brilliant job of showing how an army is built up from scratch. The mechanics of a Maoist type guerilla war. Starts with terrorist attacks and assassinations geared toward destabilizing the government. They hope to drive the government to more repressive measures which drive more people to the movement. This is also only sustainable with the help of an outside entity bankrolling it. Ends with an exciting battle and the Crown Prince Lysander the future first emperor making a bold move to win the battle. Although not decisively as there will be a return in the next book.