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The Skylark of Space (Skylark #1)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,483 ratings  ·  84 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,504)
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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
Julie Davis
May 13, 2015 Julie Davis is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-m-listening
I'm listening to Uvula Audio's fine reading as this comes out in weekly installments.
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
Scott Nelson
Museum piece. Oh, and helps me understand the whole 1930s 'Pulp Ghetto' thing ...
Jon
I appreciate what E.E. "Doc" Smith's novel The Skylark of Space did for the science fiction genre. It's widely considered the first space opera novel and the influence it had on future works is quite apparent. This book mentions or hints at jet packs, light speed, and tractor beams, all of which play a prominent role in the extremely successful Star Wars franchise. There's even a case involved that I would consider Stockholm Syndrome which is a concept that wouldn't emerge until decades later. H ...more
Wesley Fox
I managed to read 37% of the book. The Skylark of Space is considered one of the first, if not the first space opera, a progenitor of one of the biggest branches of science fiction. E.E. Doc Smith deserves a lot of credit for coming up with such a story and creating the subgenre in the 1920s. There was nothing like it at the time.

However, for the modern reader, this book is unbearable. It is hopelessly dated with 1920s cliches, jokes, and play on words that I don't understand at all. The cultura
...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
bkwurm
Sadly this has not aged well. The characters are stereotypes, being strong jawed, well muscled and highly intelligent Caucasian males and dainty, feminine Caucasian females who do little more than exclaim at their men's exploits. The inscrutable Asian servant of course makes an appearance.

The plot itself is unbelievable. The main character effectively steals, there is no other word for it, a discovery from his employers and privately sets about commercialising it. In the process, he and his fina
...more
Gustl
Questo è il primo episodio della prima saga di fantascienza. La sua valenza storica è superiore alla vicenda narrata decisamente ingenua per i lettori odierni; scritto nel primo ventennio del novecento, quando i radar non esistevano,, l'energia atomica un sogno e il viaggio interstellare qualcosa da comprendere. Questo romanzo rappresenta i primi giorni della fantascienza, ricca di entusiasmo, con uomini super forti capaci di costruire immense astronavi da utilizzare per immense battaglie galatt ...more
John Kerry
This was Dr. Smith's first book and is still a good read even after eighty-seven years. It starts off with a bang (literally) and proceeds from there. Our hero makes a discovery that allows for space travel and proceeds to go out into the great beyond with his best friend (who is rich and also a great inventor). They are in pursuit of Dr. Seaton's (our scientist) fiancee who has been kidnapped by the ostensible villain of the piece. Dr. DuQuesne (the villain) is in his own right an interesting c ...more
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
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.
Chris
Very much a book of its time. The first half of is a corporate espionage story, the second is old fashioned adventure serial.
It's not as innovative as the reputation suggests pulling in elements from other writers of the time (in particular HG Wells, but also Lindsay and Burroughs). The difference is that he adds the family dynamic which makes the whole work slightly more modern.
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
Steve C
Dec 27, 2014 Steve C rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SF historians
Shelves: science-fiction
The archetypal Space Opera of the era prior to what older fans refer to as the "Golden Age" of Science Fiction. Energetic, improbable and as dated as P.G. Wodehouse, this can still be read as an amusing curiosity from a different age. The same author's Lensman books have aged slightly better.
James Dezendorf
Continuing on my classic sci-fi jag. I enjoyed the brevity and charming old-school-ness but most of the characterizations were pretty thin. I got all 4 Skylark books so hopefully they improve.
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Classic Science F...: First Space Opera 3 18 Jul 18, 2014 10:01AM  
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4477395
E.E. "Doc" Smith
Edward Elmer Smith
Edward E. Smith, Ph.D.
More about E.E. "Doc" Smith...

Other Books in the Series

Skylark (4 books)
  • Skylark Three
  • Skylark of Valeron (Skylark #3)
  • Skylark DuQuesne (Skylark #4)
Triplanetary (Lensman, #1) Galactic Patrol (Lensman, #3) Gray Lensman (Lensman, #4) Second Stage Lensmen (Lensmen, #5) First Lensman (Lensman, #2)

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