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The Skylark of Space

(Skylark #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,336 ratings  ·  136 reviews
The first novel in the four-part "Skylark" series from the creator of the epic "Lensman" series.
Paperback, 172 pages
Published July 11th 1974 by Panther (first published 1928)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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Adrian
Now I never realised that The Skylark series was written before the Lensman series. I have read both before many moons ago but have most recently read the Lensman books ( a couple of years ago).

Anyway, if you have heard of EE "Doc" Smith then you will know he was the father of SciFi Space Opera and was in some ways way before his time. Was this book a Jane Austen ? Well no, but it was a really enjoyable read, simple but delivers what it promises; a solid easy read of SF Space Opera, with page
...more
Wastrel
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not recommended for: people without a sense of humour.

The Skylark of Space is undoubtedly one of the most important novels in the history of SF - as 'the first space opera', it and and the author's later novels (Skylark was his debut work) held, alongside predecesors like Verne, Wells and Burroughs, an immense influence over at least one generation of writers. This is what inspired the authors of the Golden Age to write; and this is also what the authors of the Golden Age tried to do better
...more
Gar
Aug 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jon
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
C. 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 ...more
Derek
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space-opera
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
prcardi
Storyline: 1/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing Style: 2/5
World: 2/5

This pulp science fiction novel begins with our Ph.D. wielding protagonist applying mysterious metallic solutions haphazardly to objects to see what happens. Really... I'm serious... It is in the first sentence, and the mystery metal is called - I kid you not - "X". Still, I was prepared for some old school science and outlandish technological discoveries (and it was 1928, so allowances must be made). I was ready and even looking forward
...more
Tim
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Curtiss
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Julie Davis
I'm listening to Uvula Audio's fine reading as this comes out in weekly installments.

Still not a fan of E.E. Doc Smith. However, I AM a fan of Uvula Audio so I'm not sorry for taking the time to listen to the book.
Timothy Boyd
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the Skylark books are not as awesome as Smith's Lensman series it is still a very good classic Space opera style classic SiFi series by one of the masters. Very recommended
Chompa
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2017, pulp
I listened to this from Librivox while commuting back and forth from work. The narrator was not great. His reading was stiff and I didn't care for how he pronounced some words. That said, it wasn't hard to get used to and he conveyed the story well enough.

First off, this is apparently the very first "space opera" and written while Elmer Smith was working on his doctorate between 1915 and 1922. That's a book that was started over 100 years before I listened to it. The portrayals of women and
...more
Chris Lynch
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Matt
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really torn on this book. Obviously this book was written almost 100 years ago and because of that there was a certain level of non modernism in the book. Clearly the science is greatly outdated and some of these thoughts on species or sex are updated as well. But that's not really what bothers me with the book. There's a portion in the second half near the middle where the book kind of turns into a romance and goes on and on about the marriage and seriousness of the marriage and I think the ...more
Chuck Ackerson
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 ...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 ...more
Gerard Whitfield
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-classics
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
...more
James
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Scott Nelson
Feb 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Museum piece. Oh, and helps me understand the whole 1930s 'Pulp Ghetto' thing ...
Audrey
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though science fiction is not at all my genre. Imagine having read it in 1928 when the book first came out! A real page turner!
Jakk Makk
Dec 31, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You can skip chapters four through nine, so why not skip the whole mess?
Warren Fournier
You do have to give credit where it is due. As a fan and student of the "Radium-Age" of science fiction (to borrow a term coined by the HiLo Brow blog), which is the era of genre work from the 1900s to the early 1930s, it has become clear to me that there were a few writers of that time that were responsible for the content, style, and popularity of the Golden-Age. Doc Smith was one of the big ones, and "Skylark of Space," being his first published work, was what started it all. Scifi from that ...more
Winston Smith
Opera, it aint...

My father grew up at the tail end of the golden age, and through his exposing me to the classics pf yesteryear I have always had a good deal of nostalgia for most anything from the first half of the 20th century.

So when I heard that Skylark was the considered the first 'true' space opera, my interest was piqued. For the first 70% of the book, it was more or less what I expected-- cheesy 'gee whiz' dialogue, clumsy prose, and vitruvian men who can overcome any physical or mental
...more
Nicole Dunton
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A humble scientist's world is turned upside down when he discovers a rare and unknown chemical. This chemical is very potent and useful. Just a little bit can destroy an entire village. The chemical can also help build incredible ships to send people into space at incredible speeds! Sadly, a crooked company has caught wind of the discovery and will stop it at nothing to steal the chemical and take credit for its discovery for themselves.

I really enjoyed this book. It was very witty and clever.
...more
Stephen Brooke
This is one of those books that can leave a reviewer (or reader) conflicted — not really very well written yet imaginative and certainly influential. The dialog is wooden, the characters tend to be caricatures, the narrative is at best serviceable and at its worst downright clumsy.

The story itself is both somewhat silly and a decent adventure yarn, with bits of comic relief. The science — well, it's far-fetched but Smith does take time to explain things. Within reason. Classic science fiction in
...more
Steve Prentice
The main interest with this book is its historic links with between authors such as Jules Verne and H. G. Wells and what we would think of as modern Sci Fi.

The book was written in 1928 and it showed. It was a typical blood and thunder adventure with little to do with science, at least as we know it. However you can see how the science element was beginning to morph into something recognisable. There was even a reference to evolution which in 1928 must have been quite radical. The other area in
...more
Kevin O'Brien
The Skylark of Space is the first of four novels in Smith's Skylark series. Like most Smith novels, it moves along with a lot of action. A government chemist discovers a power source that will let him roam the galaxy, but no one believes him. So he buys the rights from the government for next to nothing. But a colleague with a evil bent does believe he was on to something, and resolves to steal the invention. The next thing you know everyone is out in space, and interstellar war happens. If you ...more
Kenneth
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this one, the first of the author's "Skylark" novels, in one of the summers between college semesters, if I remember correctly. Smith is given credit by many as the inventor of the space opera subgenre of science fiction, and this is his first instance. He began writing it, I have read, around 100 years ago. The copy I read was a 1958 Pyramid, revised edition - exactly how it was revised, I don't know. Regardless, it was a good romp of a read with the heroes, Richard Seaton & Martin ...more
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Edward Elmer Smith (also E.E. Smith, E.E. Smith, Ph.D., E.E. “Doc” Smith, Doc Smith, “Skylark” Smith, or—to his family—Ted), was an American food engineer (specializing in doughnut and pastry mixes) and an early science fiction author, best known for the Lensman and Skylark series. He is sometimes called the father of space opera.

Other books in the series

Skylark (4 books)
  • Skylark Three (Skylark, #2)
  • Skylark of Valeron (Skylark #3)
  • Skylark DuQuesne (Skylark #4)