I love the original Dell wraps – a strong heroic spaceman ready for action, his hot-firing zapgun in hand, and his even cooler cool helmet seated low on his head to show he means business. And even better … the text of the story actually describes the lid!
This is an excellent SF cover. It’s evocative, descriptive, and exciting. The only thing missing from the cover (and the book) are the BEMS. All of the aliens are really descendants of Terra, that cool name for our boring little planet.
But Space Vikings isn’t that kind of story. It doesn’t deal with human-flesh eating creatures. It’s civilized, in that 1950s, early ‘60s double martini lunches way. Pillaging is an accepted way of life throughout the galaxy. In fact, Viking treasures are included in the Royal GNP, and welcome at spaceports that aren’t being invaded.
This creates an odd kind of morality which is considered by the characters quite superior to planets that prefer peace. Almost no pirate atrocity generates an emotional response. Aside from a brief display where the Viking leader has to keep a stiff upper lip upon seeing the carnage their nukes and invading forces wreak, the good guys are all rather blasé about the wholesale destruction of life and social and monetary structures they’ve caused. There’s no thought to whether the murders they commit are immoral. It’s empty of all emotion. Especially for Lucas Trask, whose goal of avenging his wife’s murder leads him to upset an entire galaxy. He literally destroys planets to build himself an empire from which the killer cannot escape.
Very enjoyable, in a cool and detached way.
Beam's other SF offerings from the '60s include:
• Four-Day Planet
• Junkyard Planet (The Cosmic Computer)
• Little Fuzzy (Cosmos 2007)
• The Other Human Race (Fuzzy Sapiens)
• A Planet for Texans (Lone Star Planet)
• Uller Uprising
• Crisis in 2140