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Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn (1958)

by Isaac Asimov

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lucky Starr (6)

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543533,258 (3.3)16
Lucky Starr and his crew travel through space in pursuit of an enemy agent carrying a stolen capsule containing important information about Earth.
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This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn
Series: Lucky Starr #6
Author: Isaac Asimov
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 144
Format: Digital Edition

Synopsis:


The Sirians have colonized a moon of Saturn and claim that under inter-galactic law they are quite within their bounds to do so. To dislodge them will start a war that will unite every spacer world against Earth.

A (space) UN meeting is called and due to Lucky's forward thinking the Sirians are routed and told to get out of the Solar System.

The End of the Series

My Thoughts:

Well, first off, I have read the previous book, Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter, but never recorded it nor reviewed it. According to Librarything, I never even added it to my “Currently Reading” stack. Baloney. I blame LT for screwing me up. Totally their fault and my own absent mindedness in no way has anything to do with this miscarriage of justice.

Anyway.

I just wanted to get through this book. It is too middle grade for me and I just wanted it over. There is nothing any worse about this book than the previous ones, I had just reached my limit of what I could take. And I had had enough that I didn't even care about recording the previous book that I had forgotten about. I think that says it all.

Now, I did enjoy the covers for each of these books. That 50's, 60's 70's astro-puff look, it works for me.Probably the best part of the whole series.

Man, me and SF are just not hitting it off right this year! First Reynolds leaves me with forgettable writing and now Asimov makes me reach my limit? I need some exciting SF!!!

★★☆☆☆ ( )
1 vote BookstoogeLT | Jan 18, 2019 |
Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has been claimed by invaders from the planet Sirius, the first of many extrasolar Earth colonies. Over several generations, the Sirians and their allies on many of the outer worlds turned against their planet of origin, citing social, scientific, and military superiority after generations of ethnic cleansing. Despite an intergalactic law stating that any planet in an inhabited solar system belongs to the people of that system, the Sirians have constructed a military base on Titan as their first step to attacking Earth. The Council of Science, an organization sworn to protect Earth and its neighboring planets with minimal violence, fears that the Sirians have become too powerful to defeat.

After a Sirian spy named Dorrance escapes Earth custody, Councilmen David "Lucky" Starr and and his tiny-but-mighty companion John Bigman Jones set off after him in their ship, the Shooting Starr along with several vessels from the Terrestial fleet. They pursue Dorrance into Saturn's rings, where his vessel is destroyed. However, a Sirian vessel contacts the Shooting Starr and orders it away from Saturn, informing him that the Sirians now occupy Titan and any aggression from Earth will be considered an act of war. Starr retreats and orders the Terrestial fleet to do the same.

Later, Starr, Bigman, and fellow councilman Ben Wessilewsky return to Saturn in an unauthorized expedition aboard the Shooting Starr to find a information capsule that Dorrance had stolen from Earth. When Sirian ships again detect their ship and pursue, Starr "crashes" the Shooting Starr on Mimas, Saturn's closest moon. There, he leaves Wessilewsky behind and takes off again with Bigman--only to be captured by Sirian forces. The leader of the Sirian base on Titan, an irascible tyrant named Devoure, attempts to coerce Starr into confessing to espionage and to testify against Earth at an upcoming peace conference on the asteroid Vesta. Devoure offers to spare Bigman's life in exchange for Starr's compliance.

Will Lucky Starr betray Earth at the conference and join the Sirians? What of Councilman Wessilewsky on Mimas? Will the other planets vote against Earth and allow the Sirians to occupy Titan as a prelude to war?

Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn is the final volume in a series of six. Much like its predecessor, Moons of Jupiter, Rings of Saturn takes on a noticeably darker tone than the first four books.

I was forced to wonder if perhaps Asimov started off with the intention of creating a light-hearted space adventure, but later allowed real world tensions of the time, such those between USA and the USSR, to inform his fiction. The tension and stakes in Rings of Saturn are higher than they'd been in the previous books, but it could also be construed that each story builds upon the last to culminate in this final confrontation between Earth and Sirius. Though it's easy to see the potential for future adventures in this universe.
  pgiunta | Aug 16, 2017 |
In the 1950s Isaac Asimov was approached to create a character that could form the basis of a science fiction television series. Writing under the pseudonym Paul French, he produced David Starr, Space Ranger, modeling his hero as a sort of interplanetary Lone Ranger, complete with a Martian-born sidekick to fill in for Tonto in the form of the diminutive and pugnacious Bigman. Although the television series never materialized, Asimov wrote six books featuring his dashing hero (known through the rest of the books in the series by his nickname "Lucky", since Asimov thought David didn't seem like the name of a space faring hero). The Rings of Saturn is the sixth, and final, book in the series.

Although he had originally envisioned Starr as a semi-sanctioned crime fighter in outer space, the story more or less morphed into a spy series, with Lucky taking the side of the Earth against her Cold War rival from the star system of Sirius. The Sirians are not aliens, but are instead men originally from Earth who had moved to the stars. Although the struggle between Earth and Sirius has some overtones similar to the Cold War conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, the attitudes of the Spacers seem much more like those of members of the Nazi Party. Although the Earth government is ostensibly democratic in nature (in contrast to the autocratic Sirian government), the unelected "Council of Science" wields substantial power and seems to add an elitist faction to the structure of the government.

Several elements that crop up in Asimov's adult novels show up in this book. Reflecting his novels such as The Caves of Steel or The Naked Sun, the Spacers are heavily reliant upon robot labor, disdainful of the "rabble" of Earth, and believe that those who ventured to the stars are simply superior men. The Three Laws of Robotics feature fairly prominently in the story, as does the idea that one could attempt to get around the First Law (which bars robots from harming humans) by redefining humanity in a manner that would include "superior" Sirians, and exclude "inferior" Earthmen.

The story itself is a fairly straightforward Cold War conflict. The Sirians establish a base upon Saturn's moon Titan, claiming that as it was uninhabited, it is fair game. The Earth espouses the position that star system integrity cannot be compromised, and threatens war, which plays into the Sirian's hands as they wish to cast Earth as the aggressor, and thus rally the other outer systems to their cause. Lucky is called upon to dislodge the Sirian base and avert a war while doing so. As this is a novel aimed at younger readers, the trap Lucky sets for his Sirian adversaries is not particularly hard to spot, but it is fairly clever, and the story is decently executed.

A secondary goal of the series is to impart scientific information to the intended audience of juvenile readers, and despite the fact that this books was originally written in 1958, the science relating to Saturn mostly holds up. Although some of the details are wrong in small ways (for example, Titan is identified as the third largest moon in the Solar System, when it is in fact, the second largest), most of the data inserted into the story is reasonably accurate. I do question one major plot point, that being Lucky Starr using the Cassini Division to pass from above Saturn's rings to below them. In the 1950s, the Cassini Division was believed to be mostly empty, but data from the Voyager probes showed that there is much more material in this part of the rings than had previously been thought. As a result, Lucky's maneuver would have been, at a minimum, much more hazardous, and might be impossible.

As the last of the Lucky Starr novels, The Rings of Saturn is a decent finale to the series. It is also the most like an adult Asimov novel, which might serve to help younger readers interested in more science fiction of similar nature transition to reading something like I, Robot or Foundation. With equal parts science and well-plotted intrigue plus a dash of impetuous hot-headed comic relief courtesy of the always amusing Bigman, this final adventure of Lucky Starr is a decent book that any young science fiction fan will probably enjoy.

Note: Although the cover of this edition states that this book is "Number 5 in the Series", this book is, in fact, the sixth book in the Lucky Starr series. This might be explained by the fact that this edition was issued in England, and thus may not have counted David Starr, Space Ranger as part of the series, since the practice there was to omit the "Lucky Starr and the" portion of the titles found in the American editions. Other than that possibility, I have no idea why this edition is misnumbered.

This review has also been posted to my blog Dreaming About Other Worlds. ( )
2 vote StormRaven | Jul 7, 2010 |
Asimov tries his hand at a serial scifi thriller. With little success. ( )
  mohi | Jul 5, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Asimov, Isaacprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
French, Paulpen-namemain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Feibush, RayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lippi, GiuseppeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sommariva, Anna MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Sun was a brilliant diamond in the sky, just large enough to the naked eye to be made out as something more than a star; as a tiny white-hot pea-sized globe.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Lucky Starr and his crew travel through space in pursuit of an enemy agent carrying a stolen capsule containing important information about Earth.

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