The Skylark of Space
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The Skylark of Space (Skylark #1)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,084 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Great Sci Fi adventure novel by Edward Elmer Smith, Ph.D. and Lee Hawkins Garby!
Paperback, 159 pages
Published June 1st 1980 by Berkley (first published 1928)
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Michael
Imagine the year is 1928. The Roaring Twenties are still going strong and writers of the “Lost Generation” such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald have published some of their most endearing works of social criticism. Meanwhile, the scientific community is a bit more optimistic about America’s future. They imagine a world of tomorrow filled with flying cars and high adventure in unknown worlds both inside and outside of our solar system. It’s in this environment that E.E. Smith’s The Skylark of Space b...more
Gar
After going through the Lensman series, I figured I should read one of the earliest things E.E. "Doc" "Fella" "Bachelor's" "Master's" "Community College Degree" Smith wrote in his career. It was a little rough.

The overall plot's some enjoyable silliness about a chemist stumbling into how to unlock the atomic energy of copper and convert it into drive energy, so of course he works with an industrialist buddy to build a spaceship (the Skylark, natch). However, evil rival chemist and cohorts build...more
Chuck Ackerson
Jun 05, 2011 Chuck Ackerson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chuck by: Phil Christensen
This book is “very old” science fiction. It was written between 1915 and finished in 1920. The primary characters are Richard (Dicky) Seaton, Martin R. Crain, Dorothy Vaneman (Dottie) ( Seaton's fiancee), and Margaret. Seaton works in a lab near Washington, DC, and accidentally discovers a power source that makes anything we have today obsolete. He tries to duplicate his experiment with friends watching, and fails. His friends feel he must be taking “dope,” to make such a claim. He thinks he wil...more
Curtiss
The grandest space opera in the entire genre of one man against the universe: in which the hero Dick Seaton and his side-kick Martin Crane employ a newly discovered inertialess drive and set out in pursuit of the series' villain (and its ultimate savior) 'Blackie' DuQuesne who has stolen the secret and kidnapped Seaton's girlfriend.

Over the course of four novels, Seaton and Crane use their inspired intellects and numerous alien artifices to overcome the various opponents and complications they e...more
James
It is a long time since I read this, but it definitely belongs at the top of any space opera list. This was the original of the species, biblical in scale and very enjoyable. It would be interesting to revisit this and see if it was the thundering read I found it to be when I was 19.
Darth
Pulpy Space opera Goodness...
The good guys are good beyond belief, the bad guys help out sometimes too...
But these remind me SO much of the old flash gordon, Matinee at the Bijou kinda stuff I cant help but LOVE them
Derek
Curiously, my 1946 edition contains a foreword, an explanation that the author is aware that his extrapolations to physics may be unsound. And later is a conversion table from Osnomian time units to Earthly units.

The Skylark series is pure escalation. Each book is a neat obsolesence of the previous, where a new threat appears that is an entire order of magnitude greater, that requires the development of an entirely new field of science building upon the last, that results in a technological and...more
Chris Lynch
After reading 'Skylark' there is little doubt in my mind that this is one of the two most influential science fiction books of the 20th century (the other being Olaf Stapledon's 'Last and First Men' (1930)).

To enjoy this book, first conceived by the author in 1915, you need to set aside modern social sensibilities, and be forgiving with regard to the science. It must also be said that the writing lacks sophistication. It's raw pulp adventure with impossibly perfect heroes, beautiful but gutsy he...more
Timothy Darling
In an age when soldiers were the epitome of the American ideal, and the geek subculture had the additional heroes in scientists, enter Seaton who is a bit of both. Up the ante with a rich a sidekick with unlimited money. Finally add to the equation a talented and beautiful damsel and a further damsel in distress and finally a boldly evil bad guy and it's a recipe for naive fun. All's well as long as the heroes are on the job, nothing could possibly go wrong, and it doesn't. Or at least if it doe...more
Johnny
Originally published in 1928 and republished in the ‘50s, The Skylark of Space is a cut above the basic Buck Rogers trope, but it still reads like the early pulps. E. E. “Doc” Smith offers the mysterious element idea for being able to transform mass quantities of copper into a faster than light drive. The Skylark, the eponymous spaceship, is no cigar-shaped or pencil-thin rocket; its mental image is conjured as more of a diving bell zooming through space. But that isn’t the only interesting idea...more
Sean O'Brien
I'd always wanted to read this series (actually, I want to also read the Lensman series) and finally got around to the first book in it.

People say E.E. Smith "invented" what we now call space opera, and boy, I'm here to tell you those people are right. The Skylark of Space reads like a comic strip or an old Flash Gordon serial. It is rollicking fun and action, but there is a caveat:

You have to disengage virtually all of your upper-division college memories. You know the ones--the ones that tell...more
Tim
Written almost one hundred years ago, and first published in 1928, the Skylark of Space is one of the great pioneering works of science fiction. Although it is clearly a book "of its time" -- the writing is very stilted by today's standards, and the racial stereotypes and attitudes expressed simply wouldn't be tolerated now -- it boasts a number of clear and significant firsts:

* It was the first book to deal with the exploration of the stars rather than just the local solar system * It was the f...more
Roddy Williams
‘Brilliant government scientist Richard Seaton discovers a remarkable faster-than-light fuel that will power his interstellar spaceship, The Skylark. His ruthless rival, Marc DuQuesne, and the sinister World Steel Corporation will do anything to get their hands on the fuel. They kidnap Seaton’s fiancée and friends, unleashing a furious pursuit and igniting a burning desire for revenge that will propel The Skylark across the galaxy and back.

The Skylark of Space is the first and one of the best sp...more
Larry Kollar
Jan 30, 2012 Larry Kollar rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to explore the roots of SF
Shelves: sf
I'd give this 3.5 stars if possible. It was a fun read, marred only by its dated prose and attitudes.

I seem to remember starting an E.E. Smith title in my college days, on a helicopter (long story), but I managed to leave the book on board. I was pleased to find that many of his books are now available on Gutenberg, and downloaded a MOBI there. The Gutenberg version is the serialization from Amazing Stories, and includes several illustrations. In two or three places, editorial commentary from th...more
John Mann
Oct 07, 2013 John Mann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans
The Skylark of Space was a great book which tells a tale of suspense and space travel and alien races, while still making room for a love story!

As with most older books, it takes me a little bit to get used to the language used. After the first couple of chapters, I had warmed up to this author, and the remainder of the book read much easier for me.

Many times, I was laughing at or with the characters, rooting for the characters, and just plain well-immersed into the book. I had a lot of fun read...more
Rodney Mathews
The story-line was good and has many imaginative aspects. The author spends too much time talking about the specifics of science inventions rather than on the story. He also makes the main character out to be this super human male who is like an Arnold Schwarzenegger/Bill Nye combo in one. Every conversation is about a scientific process, theory, or invention which makes the book feel like a science lab report written to try and impress the professor. I tend to rant about E.E. Smith's writing st...more
Brent
Research for my own Work In Procrastination.

I thought it felt dated with all the chauvinism and implied racism of older literature, until I realized it was 100 years old. Then I was impressed.

Nothing ages faster than science fiction. H.G. Wells is difficult to read and Jules Verne is impossible (for me) but this story holds up fairly well.

It still has it's obnoxious elements, but for going on a century, it seems pretty fresh.
Michael Hall
Charming scifi from years long past. Written during the 20-30's the Skylark series is probably the earliest form of the space opera. The characters are larger than life, the adventure is fantastic, and the science is somewhat naive but something about this story sets it on a level above mere pulp fiction. Looking back at the time period this was written it is amazing just how predictive some of the "science" actually was despite how far-fetched it was. Someone with an expansive library of scienc...more
Troy Martin
This SF classic is plainly pulpy and winkingly sexist, but what do you expect from the granddaddy of all space opera novels? Originally released in serialized form in the 1920s and updated for the Atomic Age in the mid 1940s in book form, this first novel, even predating his "Lensman" series, from E.E. Smith is just plain fun to read.
Gerard Whitfield
Original Space Opera by the man who really introduced me to SF. I recently bought a full copy of this series on eBay; in exactly the same covers that I bought in 1974! It was with great pleasure that I read them again.

It's true that Book One and Two are the better of the four, that the style of writing is somewhat dated and the charcters stereotyped, however that was the way they were written then.

I think that these would be YA now, and maybe are not even sophisticated enough for that. They woul...more
David Szondy
Chemist Richard "Dick" Seaton watches in astonishment as his experiment flies out the window and into infinity. Before you can say "radium" Seaton realises he has discovered the secret of atomic energy and without missing a beat gets his best friend to back him in building a spaceship. However, evil mastermind Richard "Blackie" DuQuesne is also after the secret and does all sorts of dastardly things to get a monopoly on the new power source, including kidnapping Seaton's fiancée in a spaceship o...more
Clint
All the dialogue in this book sounds like something out of Scooby Doo, it's so funny. But other than that, this is really impressive sci-fi stuff for having been written in 1928. The story was paper thin, and the insane shit that would happen sure was taken with a grain of salt by all the characters. Unbelievably cheesy romance parts, but I think I read somewhere that a woman (not Doc) actually wrote those parts. I mean, like 1950s sitcom cheesy. The best part about this book is the honest spiri...more
Caleb Wachter
It's admittedly been a couple decades since I read these books, but I really enjoyed the pace and the straightforward characters. The tech is pretty far from believable, even in the Space Opera genre, but the first book's story does a good job of setting the stage for what becomes one of the most beloved (I believe due to, rather than in spite of, its flaws) Space Operas of all time.

Don't expect superfluous prose, and don't expect a lot of grey areas to sift through. The pacing is great, the cha...more
Matt
Ah the golden age of pulp science fiction, if EE Doc Smith was one of the best examples of this era I would hate to see the worst.

Having said that I suppose you have to think that he thought about all this stuff long before anyone else and before science fiction had made a real impact in the movies. And you can see his influence in movie serials of the 1930's and 1940's and in later movies like "The Absent Minded Professor" (Flubber).

Still the writning of this donught machine engineer leaves som...more
Chris
I read this book because any history of science fiction mentions Doc Smith as an early influence. These books are pretty amazing because they are the earliest spaceship stories that I know of. The dialogue is hilarious. The characters sound like the Hardy Boys in space, and the villain is such an old-fashioned cliché character. In spite of coming across as really dated now, Smith's story is very ambitious. For it's time, he had a hell of an imagination.
D.L. Thurston
First, it should be said this book is clearly dated in both its gender and racial attitudes. However, it's still a fascinating read, just from being the first real work of what we call Space Opera today. Four stars is grading on a curve as I often do with stories this old.
Amie
Aug 02, 2011 Amie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amie by: Dad
Shelves: aunt-sandy, sci-fi
Although it is a bit dated, that is also part of its charm. I really enjoyed this book, both for its 1920s feel (since that was when it was written) as well as for its adventures. The characters are quirky and likeable (or, in the case of the antagonist, the kind you love to hate) and the pace is quick. I practically couldn't put it down, and can't wait to read more to find out where the Skylark ends up next!
Josh
Skylark of Space has plenty of that good ol' Doc Smith audacity and pomp that I love, but I don't think it's aged as well as the Lensmen did. It's very clearly a 1920s pulp vision of the future, which isn't bad, but can be grating sometimes-- and I never really found the Lensmen books to be grating. But comparisons and quibbles aside, this is an entertaining and easy read, well worth the time.
Clayton Yuen
What a wonderful and unique scifi story complete with faster than light space travel, aliens races, double weddings, fighting and copper! Though written around 1920, this marvelous novel can stand today, shoulder to shoulder, with our modern scifi adventures. E. E. Smith has the foresight and literary know how to write such a timely story.

I give this classic 5 stars . . . . .
Patrick Carroll
My first introduction to Science Fiction, borrowed off my older brother and read it at about 13/13, it stuck in my mind so much that he kndly gave me a set a couple of years ago. It is of it's time but I loved re-reading it. Although you see it through a different lens as an adult I still really enjoyed the trilogy and read each book in about a day. Made me smiley
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E.E. "Doc" Smith
Edward Elmer Smith
Edward E. Smith, Ph.D.
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