Summer Space Reading Camp Pt. IV: The Old High Frontier

Summer Space Reading Camp
The New Moon: relatively newer (and available) titles to directly appeal to today’s youth
The Old Moon: classics from another time
The New High Frontier: newer tales of the exploration of the Solar system
The Old High Frontier: classic names which will never be forgotten


In this last episode in the Summer Space Reading Camp, we journey back a few more decades to find the last generation of space stories for juveniles. Since these aren’t Moon-specific I have to admit that I haven’t read a lot of them, at least recently. They’re primarily meant as filler for the High Frontier fiction sections (youth and adult) in the Lunar Library. Once I finish with the reviews of Moon fiction I’ll be able to turn my attention to the High Frontier stuff.

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Moonbeam is back, or rather is getting started in his space adventures. This pair in the half-dozen Moonbeam series of books from the mid-60s make an interesting counterpoint to the First in Space graphic novel featured last week. Moonbeam at the Rocket Port is the second in the series, where the captured chimpanzee (Moonbeam is Caught) is handed over to Scott, her keeper, at the Rocket Port. Moonbeam is fascinated by the doctors and their tools, and is really excited by the rockets. I haven’t found the third in the series, Moonbeam and the Rocket Ride, but I do have the fourth book, Moonbeam and Dan Starr. In this one, we’re introduced to space man Dan Starr, who is going into space on a docking maneuver mission. Something like the Gemini mission with the ‘angry alligator’. At the night of the big dinner, Scott lets Moonbeam play dress-up with his astronaut outfit, but Scott reminds her that she can’t go up with the rockets tomorrow. Whilst Scott is away, Moonbeam escapes and goes running around the rocket port and finds a pie cooling on a windowsill. Moonbeam likes pies and takes one, but the cook sees and the chase is on, one which ends with the pie in the face of the General. Moonbeam’s on the run, and hides in the tallest thing she can find, the docking test article. Falling asleep after the madcap excitement of the chase, she misses the sealing of the test capsule, awaking to discover she’s on her way to orbit! During the test rendezvous, Dan accelerates too quickly away from his capsule towards the test article, and snaps his tether. Can Moonbeam rescue Dan Starr?

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In Peter and the Unlucky Rocket, young Peter is introduced to the myriad kinds of complications that make rocket launches such a frustrating and patience-testing experience. Peter’s Dad works at the proving ground and knows all about rockets. Peter is a bright young lad, and soon he knows all about rockets too. He gets to go to the control center for a launch, but things keep happening that stop the countdown. A small pin that must be removed has been lost in the rocket, and must be removed before the rocket can launch. They keep sending in smaller technicians, and do locate it, but can’t reach it. Would Peter be able to help? Then bad weather starts rolling in fast. Will they be able to launch the rocket on time? In Peter and the Two-Hour Moon, Peter is on board the Moonbeam III when it is accidentally launched ahead of schedule to carries supplies and materiél to the secret space station. Also on board is a cat that lives at the rocket port. A good thing, too, because when one of the oxygen tanks starts making strange sounds, it is the cat that bring their attention to it, just in time to get it out of the rocket before it blows. Unfortunately, this leaves them short on oxygen, a relief mission will need to be launched. Still, work continues on the Von Braunian space station, and Peter is of enormous help. Eventually, it gets big enough that it can be seen from Earth. The secret of the two-hour moon is out!

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For some reason, The Happy Hollisters and the Mystery at Missile Town always makes me think of the Bobbsey Twins series of books. The Hollisters happily travel to Florida to visit cousins. The first thing they see is a rocket launch gone awry, showering the beach with its pieces. They help search for the nose cone, which contains an important payload. The mystery deepens when a monkey that is supposed to be launched goes missing. Their investigation reveals a far more serious plot at work. Rockets spell danger in more ways than one! In Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint, Danny has a proclivity for daydreaming of great space adventures in class. Lucky for him he’s friends with Prof. Bullfinch, who happens to have invented a form of anti-gravity paint à la HG Wells’ story ‘The First Men in the Moon’. He and his friend Joe accidentally find themselves onboard after an unexpected liftof, and accelerating away from the Earth. A switch has gone bad, and they’re accelerating out to Saturn. Will they ever be able to get home?

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The International Rocket Society has posted a $100,000 prize for the first person to orbit a two-hour satellite. Tom is determined to win, but his efforts draw the attention of international ne’er-do-wells in ‘Tom Swift and his Rocket Ship’. The Star Spear uses a special fuel that Tom invented, and is shielded in Tomasite. Before he can get it launched, though, there’s sabotage, espionage, and theft organized by a criminal scientific mastermind determined to thwart Tom Swift. Tom also has his enemies in Tom Swift and his Outpost in Space. He’s decided to construct an ingeniously designed space station to manufacture a new kind of solar battery that he has invented that becomes super-charged when exposed to the Sun’s rays in the vacuum of space. The broadcasting guys want a couple of modules, and the military is even interested. Also interested are the bad guys, who try to thwart Tom at every turn.

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The Rocket’s Shadow introduces us to the hero of the Rick Brant Science-Adventure stories, apparently aimed at a Hardy Boys audience with a scientifical edge. Rick’s father works for a team competing for the $2Mn Stoneridge Grant. Their race to launch a private rocket to is being stymied, apparently by someone on the team. Rick finds a clue in his airplane that sets him on the trail of the saboteurs, but can he stop them, with the aid of his young ex-marine friend Scotty, in time for a successful launch? ‘The Forgotten Star’ is the first of the Dig Allen series of stories. Young Digby Allen is searching for his father, and he teams up with Jim and Ken Barry as he heads from the Moon to Mars and out to the asteroids, where he picks up the trail at asteroid 433 Eros. He’s surprised to find a way into the asteroid, and there discovers the last remnants of the civilization that contructed the asteroid as a space ship for a long journey. It contains miraculous technologies that could greatly aid in settlement of the Solar system, but the natives are not necessarily friendly, and Dig is anxious to find his father.

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Dig Allen returns in Journey to Jupiter. Some of the technology found on Eros is being used on Ganymede to create an atmosphere in a deep valley on the Jupiter moon. Turns out there are also diamonds on Ganymede, and who likes diamonds more than bad guys? So the colonists have trouble to deal with, and Dig finds himself right in the middle of it. The do-badders are intent on riches, can Dig find a way to outfox them? The Space Explorers travel farther out in Robots of Saturn. They need Methane-X to power the moon/spaceship Eros, and Saturn’s rings are just the place to find it. It’s too dangerous for humans to venture therein, so robot substitutes are created, with a unique variant on tele-operation. Soon, however, the explorers see other robots, and they realize that something is up. Soon, things are out of control thanks to the misguided ego of a brilliant scientist. Will Dig and the team survive one man’s desire to walk on the Sun?

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Tom Corbett is another widely recognized name in the space fiction canon. In Tom Corbett: Space Cadet – On the Trail of the Space Pirates, the cadets are showing off their rocketship Polaris at the Venus Interplanetary Solar Exposition, where their commander is giving a speech at the inauguration of a time capsule. Inside is a secret that the bad guys are willing to kill for, the energy lock. They steal it from the time capsule and go rampaging through space. Tom has to go undercover in the pirate’s den to get it back, but things get tough when he’s IDed by the scoundrels. He’s got to run, but space is an awfully big place to get lost in. In The Space Pioneers, Tom and the crew of the Polaris accompany a flotilla of colony ships to the satellite Roald to set up a new outpost of humanity. Greed gets in the way, when the leader of the colonists decides that the massive stores of uranium are best tapped under his leadership in order to maximize profit to himself. The landing is a disaster, and Tom and the other Space Cadets find themselves in a world of adventure.

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Tom Corbett, Space Cadet is back yet again in Treachery in Outer Space. This time around the space cadets are tasked with inspecting the ships entered into a freighter competition to ship crystals from Titan. Greed is in the house, as one team decides that the contract is rightfully theirs, and so will do anything to win. Even sabotage. Trying to keep the competition fair proves to be most life-threatening for the Space Cadets, and Tom’s dedication to the Solar Guard might be the last thing he knows. Isaac Asimov was approached about scripting a TV series similar to the Space Cadet phenomenon, and his result was the David (Lucky) Starr. In this second story in the series, Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids, it is 25 years after space pirates killed Lucky’s parents, and now they’re back, menacing the spaceways. Lucky goes undercover, and tells the pirate leader he wants to be a ‘man of the asteroids’. He wins a duel to join the club, and begins his work. A trip to Ceres takes the danger to a higher trajectory. Strange visitors on Ganymede prove more threatening than the pirates could be.

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The asteroid adventures continue with Rip Foster in Ride the Gray Planet. There’s an asteroid composed of pure thorium, and Rip, a newly-minted Planeteer, is sent to retrieve it. The Connies have their own ideas, and the race is on. This was a one-off story, probably because it hewed to real science in the solutions to problems. We’ll close things out with what is generally considered one of the finest science fictional stories around for juveniles, Robert Heinlein’s classic Space Cadet. This is the book that teaches young men about eating pie with a fork, and why it is important to do so. Many, many stories have tried to capture the spirit of this work (such as the Tom Corbett series), but few even come close. The training at the beginning is classic, and it is just a great story.

And there you have it, scores of stories for youngsters looking to work their reading skills on some science fiction that typically doesn’t always involve aliens, wormholes, treknology, or other science fantasy elements, but rather focus in on possible tomorrows right here in our own Solar system, adventures that could, just maybe, happen to the reader as our space future unfolds when humanity climbs out of the cradle of Earth.

Be sure to stop by next week for the super secret conclusion to the Summer Space Reading Camp.

One thought on “Summer Space Reading Camp Pt. IV: The Old High Frontier

  1. Excellent list this week, lots of good memories from Tom Swift, Rip Foster, Digby Allen, Lucky Starr and Tom Corbett.

    Heinlein’s YA tales are still favorites, to this day.

    Kind of funny to read about the $100,000 prize in Tom Swift for that orbital flight!

    Can’t wait to see the super secret conclusion!

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    ..

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    .

    …This Key Lime Pie Is For Our Old Friend, “The Late Great MEADOWLARK LEMON”!…RIP OLD BUDDY!…Keep Spinning Those Pies Dude!…
    ..
    ..
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    ..
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    .
    …This Key Lime Pie Award Goes To A Very Great American As Well As The Judge That First Declared Anita and Kutchie Pelaez’s “The Official Key Lime Pies of America”!..”The Great Antonin Scalia U.S. Supreme Court Justice…. RIP, Judge!…

    ..

    ..

    …that “Captain Kutchie Pelaez” of “Kutcharitaville” over
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    .

    His Drop Dead Gorgeous Wife “Miss Anita” together in they’re Historic Key

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    and Friendly, Inviting You to Spend A Little Time Resting and Enjoying

    Your Time in They’re Little “Key West Island” near the Biltmore Estate

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    .

    ….Kind of Funny You Know, The World’s Greatest Key Lime Pies Aren’t

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    .

    …”Kutch”, Is The “CAPTAIN” That Put The “SOUL” In SOUL FOOD!…Who Would Have Thought That?…
    ..
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    ..

    ..

    You’ll Soon Learn Why People Call “Captain Kutchie

    Pelaez “The Most Interesting Man In The World!”…But don’t take our word

    for it, follow the Long Lines to “Miss Anita and Captain Kutchie Pelaez’s Key

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    since 1976!..

    .

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that Jimmy Buffett

    designed or had anything to do with this place. Just Ask Miss Sunshine Smith! That would be an insult To The “Captain”!… Kutchie’s was here long before anyone ever heard of JB……Sheesh!..

    ..

    Donald Trump loves KUTCHARITAVILLE so much that he often has take-out

    flown to him in NEW YORK CITY! WOW! He must really love those Original

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    .

    My best friend said she heard last week that Donald Trump and Stephen

    Colbert together are planing on a Welcome to the USA Party for “Pope Francis”

    to be held soon over in Asheville, NC at “Kutcharitaville”.

    Some party that will be for sure!.

    .

    Think, I’ll just get all the girls together and we can all Nude-Up and

    go too “Captain Kutchie’s” and Get Drunk and Screw! Let’s Go Y’all!

    Captain Kutchie’s Key Lime Pies Are World Famous For Giving Everyone

    That Eats Them They’re Very First “PIEGASAM”….That’s Probably why one

    must be over 18 years of age to purchase one or have an adult present.

    .

    …Oh and all that Great Fall Off The Bone Bar-B-Q Slow Smoking Beef Briskets, Pork Ribs, Shoulders and Pork Butts…“Carly
    Fiorino” say’s that she Can Smell They’re Butts Miles Away!….Or Maybe She Was Just Smelling “Hillary”!…..OMG?…..Recent Thoughts, Maybe She Is Just Smelling Her Upper Lip!…
    ..

    .

    …The Late Great “Captain Tony Tarracino” of Key West Fame was an Old
    Friend of “Captain Kutchie Pelaez”. Together the two of them Sailed Many
    Adventures Not Known To Much Of The World! Nighttime Runs Too Cuba And Back. Cheese Burgers, Rum, Scotch,
    Cigarettes, Cigars, Treasure Maps, Pizzas, Chocolate Bars and Key Lime
    Pies Helped The Two Make History. If You Can Believe It Even “Mel
    Fisher” Was Known To Hang With Them!….

    ..

    Captain Kutchie The Key Lime Pie Whisperer!…Don’t Cha-Know!..

    ..

    Thank “GOD” That Noah Had Two of Kutchie’s Key Lime Pies On That Ark!….

    ..

    And Don’t Forget “Ernest Hemingway’s” (Original Thinking Post) ! There
    Was Only One And “Captain Kutchie” Has It. Don’t Miss It.

    ..

    ..Hillary Sucks!…………………….Bill Does Too!…….I Feel His Pain, Don’t You?…And “Jebio”, Yeah, “Little Marco” Really Sucks Too! Just Ask “Chris Christie”…

    ..

    ..And Why Is “Little Marco” So Interested In What “Donald Trump” Has Between His Legs Anyway? “Yeah,” What’s Up With That?…..And “Ted Cruz,” Dude, What Have You Got To Lose But A Hawk Nose, Maybe A Women With Some Booze And The Cigarette Blues, Whatever You Chose, You Still Lose!…You And Little Marco Make “Trump” Feel Like A “Cuban Sandwich”. Feel The Bern?…

    ..

    ..Captain Kutchie Pelaez For President And Miss Anita Pelaez For First Lady!!!

    They Will Put A Key Lime Pie and A Gallon Of Fresh Kutcharita’s in Every Refrigerator!….

    ..

    ..Oh, I Forgot One,….That Chuck Todd Sucks Too!….That Sleazy Eyed Gutter Snipper!….Sheesh Give Me A Break!…Where Did They Find That Moron?..Such A Smuck!..

    ..
    ..
    …”Captain
    Kutchie Pelaez”,….Who Loves You Pretty Baby!,…Who, Who,
    Who!……Everybody Does!…We Loved Your Movies Too, Please Make Some
    More. All Your Fan Base Loves You “Captain Kutch”!….

    ..

    …And Like You Said Captain Kutch…..No More Clinton’s, …No More Obama’s, and… No More Bush’s/ (Vito Corleone)! , Or “Jebio Rubio Marco”. No More First-Term “Wet.Back” Senators!…

    ..

    ..And Now, They’re All Trying to Paint “Donald Trump” As Being So Bad That He Is “Ronald Reagan” INCARNATE. One Would Think That This Was The 80’s Again! And Listening To “Mitt Romney” Whining You Would Think That He Was Some Kind Of “Mormon Moron!”…What A Sore Loser……….Just Look At The Numbers On Both Sides “People”!…(It Has To Be Because Of “Donald Trump” If You Ask Me.)..even if you don’t ask me And You Didn’t…..just look….

    ..

    ..

    ..Talk About Snake’s In The Grass, We Sure Do Have Enough Of Them For A Lifetime!…
    Now That’s What I’m Talking About!…

    ..

    …Praise The Lord And God Bless The USA!…….So Don’t Worry Mon, Bee Happy!….

    .

    …SNL
    Just Hasn’t Been Very Funny Since Captain Kutchie Got Mad That Night,
    Got His Key Lime Pies Packed Back-Up And Stomped-Out With Them Under His
    Arms!…Yeah, What Was All That About?…Wonder What Lorne Michaels and Larry David Thought About Them Apples!…

    ..

    ..We Remember Reading Several Years Back, That “Megyn Kelly” Of FOX NEWS, Really Loved Eating Herself Plenty Of “Chef, Captain Kutchie Pelaez’s” World Famous Key Lime Pies!…..You Don’t Think That “Megyn Kelly” Has Been Eating Too Many Of Those Pies Do You? ..Because With “Donald Trump”, She Has Lately Been Acting More Like “DAN RATHER” Than “Megyn”. That’s Our Report, You Decide.

    .
    …”Robin Meade” Loves Her Some Of “Miss Anita And Captain Kutchie’s” World Famous Key Lime Pies Too! You, Know She Has Good Tastes, She Probably Tastes Good Herself!…”YUM”!….
    ..
    ..It’s, No Secret, The “Pelaez’s” Are The Most Compelling Pies To Cross Anyone’s Palate In The History Of Our Great Nation!….
    ..
    ..”Miss Anita And Chef, Captain Kutchie Pelaez’s” World Famous Key Lime Pies, At Your Service Whenever The Mood Strikes You!…..
    ..
    ..No, It’s Not STAR WARS, But Let The Pies Be With You!…
    ..
    ..We Heard That “Hulk Hogan” Said That He Was Talking About Hiring “Captain Kutchie” To Build Him A Key Lime Pie Factory In His Home Town Of Belleair Estates, In Clearwater Beach, Florida…..
    ..
    …Hillary, Doesn’t Think That She Has Ever Lied And Doesn’t Think That She Ever Will! .. Are You Still Interested In Buying That Property For Sale Down In The Everglades?…

    ..

    ..We’re Not All On The Same Boat But We’re All On The Same Wave-Length!…

    ..

    …Can’t You Just See, “Brother Merle Haggard” Sitting There Drinking FREE BUBBLE-UP And Eating “Chef Captain Kutchie’s” Famous Key Lime Pie And Merle’s Favorite Fork Tender Smoked Beef Brisket There At “Kutcharitaville”. Keep Spinning Those Hits “Merle”!….

    ..

    …And “Nancy”, Here Is A Key Lime Pie For You And “Ronnie”! You Go Girl…
    ..
    ..And With An Extra “HEAVY-HEAVY HEART”, “Captain Kutchie Pelaez’s”, EXTRA GOOD FRIEND And OLD PARTNER IN CRIME….The Legendary….”YANKEE JACK”,..Of Key West and Boston, Mass. Has Passed Away, Much Too Soon..Rest In Peace Pisan…….Enjoy Your Key Lime Pies Buddy…
    ..
    …We Remember “Yankee Jack”, “Captain Tony”, “Jimmy Buffett”, “Mel Fisher”, “Captain Terry Levi”, “Captain Kutchie Pelaez” And Many Other Famous Characters Down In Key West In The Good Old Days. What A Blast Those Days Really Were!….
    ..

    ..Do You Ever Wonder?..Who Writes All This Crap?..Well, We Sure Do. They Deserve Getting Awards For Such Literary Skills, We Hope They’re Getting Well Paid. This Stuff Is As Good As “Hemingway” Or “MAD MAGAZINE”!

    ..It, Don’t Mean Nothing, It’s Just A Fun Read….
    ..

    ..And That’s All I Need!….Well, Maybe This Key Lime Pie Too. Yeah, Just This Fun Read And This Key Lime Pie And That’s All I Need! Yeah, That’s All I Need!……Well, Maybe This Gallon Of Fresh Kutcharita’s Too! Yeah, Just This Fun Read, And This Key Lime Pie, And This Gallon Of Fresh Kutcharita’s! And That’s All I Need! Yeah, Just These Three Things. Let’s See, This Fun Read, This Key Lime Pie And This Gallon Of fresh Kutcharita’s! And That’s All I Need!………Well Maybe……

    ..

    ..

    ..Oh I’m Picking Out A Thermos For You, Not An Ordinary Thermos For You But The Extra Best Thermos You Can Buy With Vinyls And Stripes And A Cup Built Right In………I’m Picking Out A Thermos For You And Maybe A Barometer Too………And What Else Can I Buy…..So On Me You’ll Rely……A Rear End Thermeter Too
    ..
    ..
    ..

    ..

    …updated story!…………..and that’s all i need!………..

    ..

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