Literature / Perry Rhodan
is a weekly German Science Fiction Pulp Magazine
series that has run uninterrupted since 1961
, with over two thousand five hundred issues released so far not counting reprints, books, and spinoffs
. It was originally founded by Karl-Herbert Scheer (1928-1991) and Walter Ernsting (1920-2005), two German science fiction writers, and initially only conceived to run for thirty volumes. It is being developed and written by an ever-changing team of authors.
The series begins with the first manned moon landing (in 1971) led by U.S. Space Force Major Perry Rhodan. However, things do not go as planned and the astronauts discover a stranded alien spaceship from a star system called Arkon and its crew who need medical help. The realization that mankind is not alone in space and access to the aliens' advanced technology lead to the (not entirely trouble-free) political unification of Earth under the eponymous hero-protagonist Rhodan, first expeditions into the cosmic neighborhood, and the eventual founding of first colonies on other planets, all the while trying to keep the more powerful established factions out there (especially the decadent Empire of Arkon, which had dominated local space for twenty millenia) from finding out just where the newcomers hail from.
Over time (over the course of the entire series so far, more than three thousand years pass in-universe), Earth and its colonies evolve into a major power in their own right while other space-faring races lose some of their traditional influence. It is revealed that all the various human races of the Milky Way galaxy - such as Terrans and Arkonides (who had founded a short-lived colony called Atlantis on Earth roughly 8,000 B.C.) - are closely related and technically part of one species. They are descendants of the Lemurians, the First Mankind, who fled Earth 50,000 years ago during a galactic war with an alien species and settled in Andromeda.
Several major outside threats are faced and eventually defeated, alien races are discovered and befriended as allies, then a successful
invasion of extragalactic origin forces the Terrans to flee along with their home-world. That event kind of marks the turning point towards events of more 'cosmic' significance and contact with high-tech civilizations and cosmic entities far ahead on the Kardashev Scale
...and that only covers the issues up to about #700-#800.
Published in Germany as:
- The main pulp series since 1961 in up to 6 editions at the same time. 2751 issues as of May 2014.
- Atlan also a pulp series, a few hundred books were published
- "Silberbände" (Silverbooks) a re-release of the main series. 122 books till now contains up to pulp 1037).
- "Blaubände" (Bluebooks) a re-release of the Atlan series. 42 books in the moment. Not to be confused with the older "Blaubände" a re-release of the "Silberbände" by a different publisher. Oh, and they were also republished by another publisher as "Grünbände" (Greenbooks).
- "Planetenromane" (Planet Novels), 415 books published from 1964 till 1998. Some canon, many are else world stories.
- Audiobooks (nearing 200)
- Music. About 40 records.
- No movie was made in 1966.
- 9 Computer games. 5 for Atari 2600, 4 for Windows and one for smart-phones, Windows and Mac
- strategy board game
- a comic (with re-release), 140 issues will go on hiatus after issue 141 in September 2013
- a magazine
- many other things like calendars, fake stamps, artbooks, ...
- in 2011 a restart of the series did start in a similar format as the "Planetenromane" and not as pulps, called "Perry Rhodan Neo". It is a retcon/rewrite, letting the story start in 2036 and not in 1971 (since controlling massive spaceships using punch cards seems to be kind of dated nowadays). 69 books as of May 2014.
And there is NO movie! Especially none made in 1966!
The American release was published in The '70s
in a paperback book format by Ace that contained other material making it resemble a magazine; after this series was cancelled a few more issues were directly sold by Forrest J Ackerman
. This lasted up to issue 145 (German numbering). A few later attempts to bring the series to English never took off.There is a character sheet for more details.There are summaries for the arcs of the series.
(work in progress)
There is a dedicated German wiki
with over 30,000 articles.
Tropes used in the Perry Rhodan series include:
- All Planets Are Earth-Like: Averted to hell and back again, with all imaginable and unimaginable climates and atmosphere compositions one can think of.
- Alien Invasion: Happened to Earth several times. One story arc saw the Milky Way galaxy ruled by an Alien Overlord for several centuries, who had his headquarters on Earth and enslaved several of the galactic races. And once Earth was taken over by a rogue Cosmic Power (Vishna), although that did not last long. The Milky Way and Andromeda definitely seem to be cosmic hotspots for trouble...
- At least they're still in one piece and did not go kaboom like some other galaxies.
- The current invaders, the Vatrox, awoke from hibernation in Andromeda, kept their head down while the Chaos forces were around, then quietly started controlling the galaxy, and retook the intergalactic "polyport" transport network in one galaxy after the other. Then they tried to take a polyport station that was researched in the orbit of Saturn. Nobody warned them the Terrans are used to invasions and know how to handle them. Months later, an intergalactic alliance fleet operates in Andromeda and has learned the coordinates of the Vatrox homeworlds...
- Somewhat justified in that in-universe, always some super-ancients left their Phlebotinium there (just consider the corpse of the super-intelligence in the Sun). Perry Rhodan should install a revolving door for invaders.
- Alternate Universes and other dimensions with different natural laws exist.
- A Million Is a Statistic: Two words: Space battles.
- Amulet of Dependency: The Cell Activators, an amulet, later an implanted chip that regenerates the body, making the wearer immune to most poisons and makes immortal. One can still be killed by brute force or stealing the amulet.
- Ancient Astronauts: At least two distinct alien visitations known, plus an inversion: the first interstellar human empire, ca. 50,000 BC, also left behind not just functional artifacts and installations all over the galaxy, but also several prominent humanoid species descended from its colonists.
- Anyone Can Die: Well, anyone except probably Rhodan himself, Atlan and some other main protagonists. On the other hand, even immortal characters who had been with the series from early on have occasionally been Killed Off for Real. There have been some near-death experiences even for Rhodan and Atlan, though. They may be immortal in that they cannot die from old age or illness, but they can be injured or killed just the same.
- Arc: Usually one per fifty or one hundred issues (pre-plotted), sometimes tied together to form even larger ones of up to 300 issues.
- Artificial Gravity: Of course. (Anti-gravity technology is regularly used in lifts and vehicles as well.)
- Artificial Human and Mechanical Lifeforms: Sometimes justified by adding a token organic component to their otherwise-computer brains, sometimes played dead straight.
- Artificial Limbs: Some characters sport cybernetic replacements for body parts they have lost due to injury, Monkey with his artificial eyes being the most recent example. It is not common to augment healthy humans with cybernetics, although some races went down that road.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Too many examples to list, both individual cases and whole species. Practically the basis for the struggle between different "ascended" cosmic alien powers that is underlying the series setting.
- Basically anyone or anything can ascend under the right circumstances: Rat-like space-vermin (Seth-Apophis), sentient potted plants (It), alien museum guards (Seelenquell), you name it.
- In fact, ascended beings can ascend again (matter source/sink). And again (cosmocrats/chaotarchs).
- The Battlestar: The default for larger capital ships, which inevitably carry their fighter complement as well as larger secondary craft, typically up to nominal corvettes or light cruisers.
- Balance Between Order And Chaos: Sort of. Both sides appear to profit from the relative peace of the status quo with limited proxy wars — each of these might involve several galaxies, though.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Played with. Atlan didn't pose as important figures in human history, but he met and influenced quite a few of them during his 10.000 years he was stranded on earth (Leonardo da Vinci, Vasco da Gama and Leif Ericsson, to name a few).
- Played straight with Nostradamus, who'd turn out to have been, in fact, an alien and still quite alive and well during the Swarm arc.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: If you can imagine it, there's a good chance some character has encountered it. Or been it.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: Captain Janeway would weep. Travel across the galaxy is a matter of days, even after most advanced tech was severely downgraded.
- Character Development: Characters mainly change to be made more appealing to current readers. The series' authors have a greater freedom when developing side characters, as the main characters are necessarily subject to a certain Status Quo (except when they are killed off or go insane after some mind-shattering experience, which has happened).
- Cool Starship: The series had its share of distinctive and unusual ships. Either by virtue of being an Ace Custom, advanced prototype or sheer size. The BASIS, the SOL◊ and the KLOTZ◊ are some of the larger examples. Each personal ship of one of the main characters also falls under this most of the time.
- Cosmic Chess Game: The series even has a story arc by that name, dealing with the conflict between two Super-Inteligences (IT and Anti-IT). The eternal battle of the Chaotarches and Cosmocrates also falls under this.
- Crystal Spires and Togas: Arbaraith, the mythical origin world of the Arkonids
- Cyborg Helmsman: The terran SERT system allows a specially gifted individual to merge his conciousness with the ship.
- Dating Catwoman: Had much action, tropewise. Tekener and the feline Kartanin Dao-Lin H'ay first were only attracted to each others due to their similar characters. Then it was hinted it was love. Led in-universe (!) to a Bestiality Is Depraved incident, when a mad fellow Kartanin took offense. (All other Kartanin saw this as strictly private matter.) Then the authors suggested they actually had sex (including suggesting Tekener gets some surplus scars on his back by Dao's claws, additionally to those he already wears in his face). Seems in-universe Terrans are more tolerant than the readers, at least one filed a Bestiality Is Depraved complaint himself. Which is silly, since Dao is an alien and not a cheetah. In any case, the authors decided to break up the couple.
- Possibly the most iconic (if doomed) example would be the short-lived romance between Atlan and Mirona Thetin (soon after also known as "Faktor I") during the Andromeda arc.
- Detachment Combat: Prime examples being GILGAMESCH and PRAETORIA, two huge spaceships able to split up into smaller components. Small being the operative word, the 13 modules of GILGAMESCH were 2,5 km in diameter, while PRAETORIA is composed of 116 cubes of 3 km length each.
- Deflector Shields: Several distinct upgrades in the course of the early series. Note that the term "Deflector" is used for an invisibility field rather than defense.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Although Earth itself has evaded this, Pluto was destroyed in the final battle of the issue #400-499 arc, and in-universe the asteroid belt is all that is left from an original fifth planet by the name of Zeut, destroyed during the fall of the Lemurian empire by its enemies. Mars has been replaced with an alien planet from another dimension in order to prevent an unstoppable 'death field' emanating from it from eventually reaching Earth and spreading further. Planets and stars outside the solar systems have been destroyed from time to time as well. Mankind has gotten their hands on planet-destroying bombs (so-called Arkon Bombs) since the 1980s and used them quite regularly in the first 200 issues.
- Emperor Scientist: From issue #2 onwards, Rhodan was the most powerful man on Earth with access to alien technology and psionic mutants joining him for his ideals, and eventually becomes elected Grand Administrator of the Solar Empire — nearly continuously during its existence between issues #50 and #650, but mostly abstained from politics. Other immortals ruled mankind in the same manner until the #1200s.
- The Empire: 'Normal' aggressors of extragalactic origin tend to have this as their background. Despite the name and Terran efforts to conceal the position of Earth from it (and everybody else) originally, the old Empire of Arkon wasn't quite this kind of empire for much of the series because after 20,000 years the Arkonides had become too complacent and lazy to care about military conquest and only kept their fleet around to keep the Pax Arkon.
- But arguably after the collapse of the first empire and after over a millenium of feudal power struggles between hundreds of noble houses and a short-lived Republic the second Empire of Arkon (a.k.a. The Crystal Empire) has slipped into that direction in recent years. Under the Machiavellian (and now immortal) Emperor Bostich I. it has once again become a militaristic, expansionist galactic power determined to recapture the glory of old. Internally it is showing traits of a police-state, where unruly nobles attempting to secede can be made to "disappear" by the secret police and the rest live in fear of the infamous torture planet Celkar where anyone deemed an enemy of the Empire is sent and forced to sign a public confession. Given that Arkon rose to prominence and power over 20,000 years ago through two long and bloody wars of colonial independence against a more powerful brother race, peace through military power has always been part of their philosophy.
- Some realms created by Terran colonists also became The Empire, for their subjects at least, though by the current time none of those exist as such anymore.
- Enemy Mine: Ever since the fall of the Arkon Republic, the Terran Free League and the Crystal Empire have been uneasy neighbors, at times even being at war with each other such as when Arkon started conquering Terran colonies and even attacked Terra itself. Later, however, Terrans helped defend Arkon (twice!) against attacks by alien aggressors from outside the Milky Way (and vice versa), Arkonide and Terran war fleets fought side by side on several occasions to defeat a more dangerous foe.
- Energy Weapons: Pretty much the universal default.
- Expendable Clones: Most (in)famously, the Duplos. Either force-bred in clones tanks, or created by matter duplicators complete with memories of their originals, and used as cannon fodder by various Big Bads.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Multiple known drive systems.
- The Federation: The Solar Empire (despite the name) and later the Free Terran League.
- Feudal Future: The Empire of Arkon has a lot of Blue Blood noble houses, whose members (especially the Higher Nobility) are infamous for their arrogance towards colonial Arkonides and non-Arkonides. Sometimes, however, in the case of some old grizzled admirals Authority Equals Asskicking, and other nobles have used Obfuscating Stupidity to work behind the scenes as spies.
- Five-Man Band: Of the six immortals that appeared up to issue #50, Perry Rhodan is The Hero, the Arkonide Atlan da Gonozal is The Lancer, Reginald Bull The Big Guy, Homer G. Adams is The Smart Guy, and alien Pucky evolved from Team Pet to The Heart. Julian Tifflor would be Tagalong Kid.
- Flying Saucer: All spaceships built by the Blues/Yülziish are disk-shaped.
- Friendly Enemy: Atlan and Rhodan, in the beginning. The first couple of times they met Atlan was on the run trying to flee the Solar System and tried to kill Rhodan (while Rhodan's intelligence corps and mutants tried to capture Atlan), but both refrained from using several obvious opportunities to kill the other. After the second duel they became friends and allies for the next 3000 years.
- Perry Rhodan and Emperor Gaumarol da Bostich bounced back and forth between being uneasy allies and bitter political and ideological enemies several times, until they settled into a Fire-Forged Friendship. Atlan (a former emperor of Arkon) and Bostich (the current emperor of Arkon) both work together in pragmatic fashion. However, many of Rhodan's friends, most prominently Reginald Bull, still despise Bostich.
- God in Human Form: Some of the Cosmic Powers use 4-dimensional body projections to appear to the mortals in a form they are familiar with, which often limits their powers. Others don't bother with that and just infuse their essence directly into clone bodies, or worse, stolen bodies, which usually burn up (literally) pretty quickly.
- Gunboat Diplomacy: Both the Bad Guys and the Good Guys, including the Terrans, although Perry Rhodan himself is usually loath to do so. But some of his friends and allies aren't quite so high-minded.
- Hard Light: So-called form energy is widely used by highly advanced civilizations and cosmic powers. Some had entire spaceships constructed from the stuff. The Terrans and other Milky Way races used it, too, albeit in a less advanced form that needed constant energy input to stay stable, until a change/fluctuation in certain natural constants of their universe sky-rocketed the energy cost of using form energy and it became unfeasible to continue to use it in everyday life. The cosmic powers have technology that can materialize stable matter directly from energy or dissolve it back again after use, at 100% efficiency... if you're an ascended being, natural laws are merely guidelines.
- Hearing Voices: Those young adult Arkonides who pass (and survive) the famous ARK SUMMIA, a series of three grueling (and potentially deadly) tests of one's education, intellect, physical fitness, strength of will, team spirit, determination and fearlessness in the face of danger will be rewarded with the hyperphysical activation of a special sector of the brain that only Arkonides possess: the logic sector. The activation grants not only Photographic Memory to the recipient, but also creates a sort of controlled split personality, a second persona that exists as a voice in the graduate's head, called the Extrasinn (literally "additional sense"), which acts as advisor. This second persona is always rational, often a Deadpan Snarker, and analyses every situation. It can notice things the recipient is not consciously aware of and thus grants intuitive insights into danger or complex puzzles. It can also hold an internal monologue with its user. As the logic sector is a biological remnant of the Lemurian psi-gland, in rare cases the activation also triggers latent psionic abilities, usually telepathic in nature. The possession of an active Extrasinn is one of the prerequisites to become Emperor of Arkon.
- Traditionally, only true-blood Arkonide nobles were allowed to face the ARK SUMMIA, but occasionally commoners or colonial Arkonides of special talent and capability are allowed to participate, most prominently Gaumarol da Bostich's childhood friend Aktakul, who was sponsored by Bostich himself and took the tests alongside him.
- Heel–Face Turn: Many, but recently and most prominently the Arkon Emperor Gaumarol da Bostich. Originally a seemingly unremarkable bureaucrat from a family of Old Blood nobles, he was installed as puppet emperor after Imperatrix Theta was assassinated. After years of planning, he killed off the puppeteers and started a Machiavellian reign as well as the expansion of the Empire, hostile to the Free Terran League unless a common enemy had to be fought. As of issue #2412 he has made a Heel–Face Turn and become the elected head of the New Galacticum (sort of a League of Nations/United Nations In Space organization). As of issue #2514, set 120 years later, Bostich is still both Emperor of Arkon and President of the New Galacticum and seems to devote his time to matters of galactic administration and diplomacy instead of military conquest. Also, Bostich has been known from the beginning for his willingness to promote competent non-nobles and non-Arkonides into positions of power and to stomp down heavily on corruption in his own administration and military, so he has been the target of assassination attempts from both the liberal, anti-feudalistic fringe of the political spectrum and the ultra-nationalist groups in the Empire.
- Actually, if one reads Bostich's backstory, he suffered a Face–Heel Turn first, and his Heel–Face Turn is merely a return to a more sane personality. He started out as a rather quiet and gentle, but academically brilliant and erudite young man, who shared his father's liberal parlamentarian views and shared a close personal friendship with Aktakul, a commoner from a colonial world and gifted engineer and scientist. While envious of the Terrans' rise to galactic power on the ruins of the previous Great Arkon Empire of the past, Bostich was a noble and honorable person. Until his whole family was murdered and his clan's fortunes destroyed by the same jingoistic conspirators who later put him on the throne and forced him to endure forty years of being a helpless puppet emperor, in fear of being assassinated himself. He saw former trusted friends abandon him because they wrongfully believed him responsible for the actions of the conspirators. This marked his descent into outbursts of homicidal choleric anger, paranoia and ruthless expansionist politics. After he got rid of his puppeteers, he relied heavily on the intelligence apparatus to gain absolutist control, pushed scientific research into defense and weapons, and waged several wars over regions of space that had once been part of the Old Great Empire of Arkon 3000 years ago, even going so far as attacking Terran colonial planets of strategic and economic value. However, after suffering through a Mind Rape by an evil Ascended Alien Power (SEELENQUELL) and several military defeats at the hands of extra-galactic aggressors (the designated Big Bads of their seasonal story arcs), he was forced to learn to rely on others and trust his Terran allies (to some extend). Aktakul's calming influence was probably the only thing that kept Bostich from snapping completely during all those decades.
- Humans Are Special: Played straight at the beginning, where songs could almost be written about how Terrans are competent and benevolent in comparision to the other races and how they have the most promising future. Downplayed later.
- HyperspaceArsenal , The Uleb (aka The Time Police) hides their facilities inside hyperspace itself.
- Immortality: Granted to Perry Rhodan and other cast members by a Sufficiently Advanced Alien early in the series, though the numbers have long since been whittled down. Other individuals or species encountered may also be immortal or at least have significantly extended lifespans.
- Inertial Dampening: Ships routinely accelerate at hundreds of kilometers per second squared (ten thousands of Gs), so this is about the universe-wide default.
- In-Name-Only: "Mission Stardust" a 1966 Italian movie "inspired" by the first few pulps.
- Interstellar Weapon: Many examples, cabable of erasing Fleets, Planets, Suns or even Galaxies from existence.
- Kill All Humans: Early in the series, the Posbi race (Positronic-biological robots) introduced itself by going on a rampage to exterminate every intelligent species that wasn't like them. They got better (and are now Terra's allies), but from time to time similar motivations pop up elsewhere.
- Lensman Arms Race: More true in the early days of the series; in modern times, supertechnology still regularly pops up in the hands of antagonists and 'foreign' powers, but the standard tech level of the galactic powers doesn't advance much anymore.
- Living Ship: Occasionally. If a character gets access to a living, sentient (and usually telepathic) spaceship, it's usually a gift from some advanced alien (nonhuman) race.
- One of the first examples were the "Dolans" used solely by the Time Police, which were essentially cyborg ships with their engines and other equipment installed in an organic hull. A bit unusual for the trope, Dolans naturally only had animal-level intelligence and relied on the guidance of their pilot and a small enslaved crew kept awake in suspended animation (their mental faculties were what they had been "drafted" for, not their physical ones) to live up to their full potential.
- Long-Running Book Series
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Fiktivspiele (virtual reality games, or what sci-fi authors in 1961 could imagine as such). The main reason why the first Great Empire of Arkon fell into apathy and decadence. Basically the majority of the Arkonides, being citizens of a post-industrial and post-scarcity society and the upper class in the Empire, became hooked up on various highly addictive virtual reality games. As the technology was partially psionic in character, using artificial telepathy and neuronal feedback, the addiction factor was enormous. Women proved more resistant than the men, which is why Thora, the commander of the crashed ship that Rhodan found on the moon, was female. The general apathy became so widespread that the government of Arkon was forced to man their fleet of spaceships with crews from various colonial races, or build ships entirely manned and controlled by robots and artificial intelligences.
- Lower-Deck Episode: From time to time a throwaway POV character is used, usually to provide background information of an alien culture via Xeno Fiction or to illustrate how the actions of the immortal heroes impact on the lives of normal people. A new enemy is often introduced this way, viewed through the eyes of his soldiers, henchmen or spouses.
- Master Computer: A staple, with the most prominent ones (like NATHAN, the giant central computer of the solar system located on Earth's moon) sometimes becoming recurring supporting characters in their own right. Also inverted — the mostly-robotic Posbis are ultimately governed by a highly intelligent mass of quite biological protoplasm.
- Matter Replicator: Strangely enough, given all the other high tech available, Star Trek-style matter replicators have only ever turned up as alien artifacts or ancient technology used by the Lemurians: Such as using matter replicators in combination with brain taping to clone whole armies of soldiers by replicating exceptional individuals and implanting their copied memories into their clones.
- Mile-Long Ship: Ships with a length/diameter of 1500 meters or more are nothing special in the setting. There are many examples of giant ships or mobile battle stations; some even fit under Planet Spaceship.
- The Multiverse: Used straight, although travel between individual universes isn't common (but possible). Interuniverse travel often causes "strangeness shock", which can disable technology and incapacitate living beings until they adjust to the slightly different laws of physics in the new universe. Also, the "standard universe" — and perhaps others as well — has a positive side and a negative side which are almost different universes in their own right. Then there are pararealities.
- Mutants: The distant descendants of Hiroshima's victims still have mutations cropping up, apparently.
- The Cold War era Sci-Fi staple of psychic superpowers created by radioactivity is still part of the earliest story arcs written in the 1960s, but has been abandoned as time and science marched on.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Titles of the issues #2596 to #2600: "Requiem for the Solar System", "Hyperfreeze", "Death of a Superintelligence", "The last day", "The Thanatos-Program"
- Order Versus Chaos: The main Powers That Be, Cosmocrats and Chaotarchs, see their conflict as this.
- Whether a being will ascend towards one or the other appears to depend on whether its acts (or that of the peoples connected to it) are more constructive or destructive. Being neutral is theoretically possible, but both sides are actively grooming potential members.
- Cosmocrats are so far removed from ordinary beings that Values Dissonance about the meaning of "order" and "right" caused several peoples and even ascended beings to desert them — which they regard as a threat they have to counter with brute force if necessary. Meanwhile, the Chaotarchs' forces are better organized — with propaganda and mind control devices.
- Planet of Hats: Default order of society of most of the enemies, albeit not always planets but more castes or entire species of hats; a species or mighty being that wear the rule-hat, one species with the fighting-hat and one species with the technology-or-repair-hat are the most common, other hats are facultative; on the other hand, the terran mankind is a textbook-example of The Mario.
- Planet Spaceship: The largest vessels in the series fall under this trope. For instance the cosmocratic spore ships, spheres with a size of 1126 kilometers.
- Possibly the most extreme examples: Klongheim and Parsfon, the fully FTL-capable homes of rival robot civilizations traveling the universe in search of their rightful masters, with dimensions measured in light-months. It's strongly suggested that these got their start as remnants of some cosmic disaster or other that weren't so much built as colonized.
- Plot Immunity: While it may seem different, Word of God says there are only four character that will not die Perry, Bully, Atlan and Gucky. Doesn't keep some characters from being around for over two thousand issues.
- Pluto Is Expendable: Broke up in issue #499 (long before the real life 'demotion').
- Powered Armor
- Portal Network: Many examples throughout the series, most often used for intergalactic travel. Or time travel. Or both.
- Precursors: The Lemurians are the precursors of modern mankind and most of the Galaxy's humanoid races. The Cappins are the precursors of the Lemurians (kind of). The Motana are the precursors of the Cappins (implied). Earth primates are the precursors of the Motana (plus Cyno DNA for psychic powers).
- Psychic Powers: Lots of them, both human psychics and alien psychics... sometimes whole alien races with psychic powers. There were at least two instances of a Terran Mutant Corps. The Arkonides have an ancient monastic tradition of Dagor knights (martial arts wielders and sword fighters who can develop latent psychic powers) and the so-called Fire Women, an all-female group of highly psychic disciples of various races of the Empire. The most powerful psychic races are almost always wholly alien, though.
- Ragnarok-Proofing: Lemurian technology, despite being 50,000 years old, is often still functional.
- And that can be easily considered brand new when compared to the relics of some sufficiently advanced alien races like the 'Bridge into the Universe' (20M years).
- Really 700 Years Old: Perry Rhodan and several others due to a whole gamut of rejuvenation technologies administered by a (more or less benevolent) benefactor.
- Retcon: Parts of early issues have been rewritten, but for bigger changes other methods were used: jumps in time kill off mortal cast members, immortals are killed or join an ascended being, technologies stop working or are revealed as too risky once the original developers are gone.
- The biggest change was caused by the Cosmocrats who changed natural laws to "raise hyperspace impedance". They warned Rhodan (presumably all those they regard as allies), and he tried to warn others, but when the event came a decade later, it still was a shock. It caused several common hyperspace-based technologies to fail, among them "syntronic" computers (whose components are fields in hyperspace) and most advanced FTL drives. Others still work, but at severely reduced capacity. Cosmic-level technology still works without a problem, but it's rare and nobody can rebuild it.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Primarily the descendants of Lemurian colonists in the Milky Way galaxy, and quite nonhuman species are frequently encountered ...but aliens who resemble humans rather more than the basic 'one head, two arms, two legs' layout would justify do show up all over the universe. Somewhat justified by sufficiently advanced common ancestors in the really distant past and the efforts of one faction of the cosmic Powers That Be to spread life and intelligence throughout the universe on purpose.
- Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Lots of examples. On a have-no-sense-of-scale-scale from 10^0 (have sense of scale) to 10^1 (have no sense of scale), Perry-Rhodan-authors get easily at 9.1*10^4 (exponents are also common in use): Stars rearranged to build intergalactic matter transmitters? Mobile structures with dimensions measured in light-months? Mobile star clusters? The ruler of an alien civilization returning home after some ten- or two hundred thousand years respectively (yes, it's happened at least twice) and being able to take right over again (after some plot-relevant complications, of course)? For that matter, alien cultures remaining largely static for thousands to millions of years in the first place? We've got them...
- Well, some of those alien civilizations have actually moved backwards during the millenia (most prominently Arkon), losing technological and historical knowledge due to wars or forced emigration when their original home planet was destroyed.
- Screw Learning, I Have Phlebotinum!: Early on, Terrans adopted Arkon technology, the hypno schooling devices, that allow scientific knowledge, language skills and even memories to be transfered and implanted in the brain in just a few hours. The technology is widely used by a number of species in the Milky Way, and it partially psionic in nature. The brain has to be "evolved" enough to accept the imprint, though, otherwise the recipient might go insane. Using a device programmed for a certain species on a member of a different species without adapting it first can also lead to unpleasant side effects. Upgrading someone's IQ with these devices is possible, also that often leads to, you guessed it, insanity or brain damage.
- Shapeshifting: Several races, most prominently the Cyno, who cannot remember their original form, and turn into an obelisk that casts no shadow when they die.
- Space Elves: The Arkons, tall, beautiful pale haired are High Elves gone decadent.
- Spaceship Girl: MIKRU-JON's avatar looks like a petite, young human woman.
- Spheroid Dropship: The sphere is a reasonably common shape for starships. Most notably, it's been traditionally used by the dominant humanoid races of the Milky Way galaxy, the Terrans themselves included, for their capital ships (basically anything above fighter/small craft scale) for thousands of years, so there are plenty to go around.
- Spin-Off: Atlan, the immortal Arkonide, got his own spin-off series. Twice. Probably because he is an Action Hero and way more popular than Rhodan himself.
- and now we have Perry Rhodan Neo, which is a Continuity Reboot / Spin-Off Hybrid, retelling the beginning of the series with 2036 instead of 1971 as the starting year.
- Stealth in Space: Deflector shields. These are not like Star Trek or Star Wars deflectors; they bend light around objects to make them invisible, but offer no real protection from weapons.
- Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Plenty, although they tend to remain Powers That Be in the background. (The really advanced ones are beings ascended to a higher plane of existence and implied to plan on a timescale of millions of years and thus have trouble with quick responses.)
- Super Soldiers: Apart from the frequently encountered Proud Warrior Race, the series had it's share of enhanced troops, nearly covering every possible origin of the 'super' part, be it genetic engineering, cybernetics, training or whatever.
- Take a Third Option: Rhodan loves this trope. At the beginning of the series, he built the "Dritte Macht" (in contrast to Americans and Russians). Later, when things went more cosmic, he tried to find a third way opposed to the cosmic incarnations of Order and Chaos, with mixed results.
- Technology Porn: Some of the autors spend way too much time describing how everything works.
- Teleporters and Transporters: Teleportation is a known psionic power in the universe, and matter transmitters are commonplace. Most of the latter require both a sender and a receiver, but the 'transform cannon', a fairly widespread weapon, is essentially a transmitter used to teleport fusion bombs. (It cannot directly penetrate modern shields, however, and it's strongly implied that the rematerialization process is imperfect, thus it isn't used for transporting troops.)
- Throw-Away Planets. And on at least one occasion, a throw-away galaxy.
- Time Travel: Various methods (not always by machine). The theories behind it have fluctuated a bit but seem to currently strongly favor the "it will happen because it happened already" approach.
- Translator Microbes: Any language you've never encountered before that takes your computers more than a few hours at most to figure out well enough for fluent simultaneous translation is considered remarkably difficult, and dedicated translator devices are quite portable and routinely incorporated into spacesuits.
- Trapped in Another World: Several times, when involuntary time travel or accidental transdimensional travel sees someone stranded far away from home.
- Sometimes this becomes Trapped In Another Body, especially when psychic powers are involved. Even happened to Perry Rhodan himself once, despite the fact that he doesn't have psionic powers of his own — his brain was stolen and an artificial duplicate installed in his body's head without anyone noticing for quite a while. (The event initiated an arc set mostly in a distant galaxy where brain-swapping technology for the benefit of the rich and powerful was well established).
- Upgrade Artifact: The Para Dew, a partically stable psionic matter that could be used by psychics or people with latent psionic powers to vastly increase said powers. Para Dew lost its potency after some cosmic constants were altered during a transuniversal cataclysm event.
- Uplifted Animal: Genetic modified apes. The terran government wants to give them the right to vote, but they refused repeatedly.
- Venus Is Wet: In early installments, Venus is described as a lush jungle world teeming with life. After initial exploration, mankind colonizes the planet.
- Wave Motion Gun: Numerous examples, some with a range measured in lightyears.
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: Destroying a planet is relatively easy in the universe — even very early in the series, a type of bomb (The Arkon Bomb) was introduced that could do it all by itself over the course of several days by means of setting off a (comparatively slow) nuclear chain reaction, and later on starship weapons became powerful enough that large-scale fleet engagements can threaten the integrity of solar systems. Blowing up a star is considerably less routine, but has been done (Sol itself has been threatened by this at least twice). And the highest-ranking helpers of the real Powers That Be on a cosmic scale have access to weapons capable of depopulating or outright destroying entire galaxies in a relatively short time.
- Even small craft can pack Transformcannons, wich fire/teleport fusion bombs with a yield of several thousand gigatons TNT. The giant carrier ship BASIS had the Selphyr Fataro Device, which could obliterate anything in a radius of 144 million kilometers, with a firing range of 18 lightyears. There Is No Kill Like Overkill.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Averted big-time. If it is sentient, the writers treat it like they would any human character. In-universe however, you may run into ruthless mercenaries, cunning traders, feudal overlords, and issues such as racism, slavery, questionable medical experiments, torture and genocide have turned up within the series. While Terrans are usually appalled by such actions, characters from other races may view these issues differently. Many stories are told from the point of view of an alien.
- White Void Room: The white room aboard the JULES VERNE, installed by the Metaläufer along with other advanced technology and gimmicks. Most persons couldn't even enter the room. Inside, people had four shadows from unseen light sources and became disoriented. The room could be used to observe cosmic events and gain some insight into what was going on during those events.