Pulsating Pulp
Some rip-roaring sci-fi from the age of pulp fiction


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The Voyage of the Space Beagle
by A.E. van Vogt (1950)


This title from Canadian SFWA grand master A.E. van Vogt has emerged as a fan favourite, even above his eminently more noted (and complex) The World of Null-A. A huge spaceship with a chemically castrated all-male crew head off on an intergalactic exploration mission. It proves to be a pretty rough and tumble affair… both from the aliens they encounter and the enemy within.





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Gray Lensman
by E E 'Doc' Smith (1939-40; 1951)


Despite being rife with political incorrectness, the books in Smith's Lensman series are regarded as classics of the 'space opera' sub-genre. A corps of superbly-conditioned heroes armed with magical bracelets fight evil on a galaxy-spanning scale. In GL, book four in the series, a Lensman is out to destroy the enemy's Grand Base. Serialised in Astounding magazine from Oct 39 to Jan 40.





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Brain Wave
by Poul Anderson (1954)


For all time the solar system had been moving through a part of the galaxy containing a force field that acted to inhibit intelligence. When Earth moves into less-inhibiting space, a massive natural and social upheaval ensues. Genuine sci-fi classic that is deservedly starting to regain favour with modern readers and re-establish Anderson's status.





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The City and the Stars
by Arthur C Clarke (1956)


Earthbound inhabitants of an enclosed high-tech far-future city live out utopian lifestyles, but long ago gave up travel to the stars. The adventurous hero gets out and winds up in the nature-loving city of Lys. Eventually he discovers an abandoned alien spaceship heads off to the cosmos. Rivals Childhood's End as Clarke's best novel.





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Citizen Of the Galaxy
by Robert A Heinlein (1957)


Novel written for young readers that impacted on a lot of lives. A young slave boy is sold to a man who is apparently a beggar, then becomes a free trader on a starship - and eventually learns he is an heir to wealth. The book is jam-packed with so many messages about society and morality that it makes one shudder. Classic boys' stuff.





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Have Space-Suit - Will Travel
by Robert A Heinlein (1958)


A volatile teenage boy wins a space-suit which helps fulfil his desire to go the moon. Some unsavoury aliens whisk him away to an ancient planet where he is forced to undergo some interpersonal development and accept his responsibilities to the human race. Bristles with energy - perhaps the best teenage sci-fi ever written.





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The Sirens of Titan
by Kurt Vonnegut (1959)


Jam-packed with many of the devices later used in KV's bestselling novels - like mock religions, multi-temporal viewpoints and the manipulative Tralfamadorians. A millionaire astronaut survives flying into a chrono-synclastic infundibulum and founds the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent. Side-splitting satire of contemporary America.





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The Stainless Steel Rat
by Harry Harrison (1961)


The first of a much-loved sequence, Slippery Jim diGriz is the Galaxy's smoothest con-man - until he gets caught. The obvious thing to do with a man of such immense talent is to make him a cop. He goes about conning humans, aliens and mechs - while taking on a sinister woman who is building the ultimate battleship. Inscrutable Harrison.


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