Literature / Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers

Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers is a comic science fiction novel parodying the Space Opera genre, written by Harry Harrison and first published in 1973.

Two college students, Chuck and Jerry, accidentally discover a powerful new substance while joking around with a particle accelerator, and use it to build a space ship. Their explorations get them caught up in events with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Aliens Steal Cable: Spoofed. Every single alien race the heroes come across has "listened to your radio broadcasts" and learned fluent English for one reason or another.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted. Arriving on a new planet, our heroes see a war between the Garnishee (hideous tentacled monsters) and the humanoid Ormoloo (who don't look too bad if you overlook the four arms), so they wade in on the side of the more-or-less-humanoids. After exterminating 99.9% of the Garnishee race, they discover that the octopoids are the wise, gentle and cultured good guys and the Ormoloo are the equivalent of cattle being mind-controlled by evil Puppeteer Parasite aliens out to conquer the galaxy.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The phrase "Ich möchte ein Einzelzimmer mit Bad im ersten Stock!" is translated in a footnote as "I spotted a door behind the throne, so grab onto me and we can escape that way." The real meaning is "I want a single room with a bath on the first floor".
  • Buffy Speak: A footnote offers the following definition:
    Collapsium is an artificial material made of atoms with their binding energy reduced so they sort of collapse in upon themselves and are binding and heavy and that sort of thing.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: The race of Big Bads who were mentioned throughout the book turn out to be tiny turtles with Psychic Powers kept as pets by another race.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Common enough throughout the galaxy, although the "cheddite" method appears to be the fastest, at least among the "younger" races.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: John claims to be trained in:
    ...spying, warfare, intelligence, brain surgery, proctoscopy, codes and ciphers, blue-ribbon cooking, and murder.
  • Lilliputian Warriors: The Puppeteer Parasites are furious that all other intelligent life is bigger than them despite their superior mental powers, so launch a Evil Plan to take over the entire galaxy.
  • Magical Particle Accelerator: The protagonists experiment with a homemade particle accelerator, and one of them plays a joke on the other by putting in a piece of cheddar instead of a test mineral into the target slot. After being hit with the particle beam, the cheese turns into a strange-looking rock that turns out to have amazing properties. When exposed to certain energies, the "cheddite" teleports the target object a certain distance away (depending on the amount of energy applied) by shunting it through a tiny parallel universe.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: The inverse (a human concealed inside a robotic alien suit).
  • Space Opera: The novel is a spoof of the more oldschool and manichean examples of the genre, with particular attention to the works of E. E. “Doc” Smith.
  • Stable Time Loop: The heroes use a weapon, developed by an advanced ancient race, that sucks the Big Bad armada into a wormhole that sends them to the beginning of the universe. The armada speeds up so fast that it explodes upon exit... resulting in the Big Bang. Thus, the heroes are responsible for themselves eventually coming into being by creating our universe.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: At the end of the novel, Chuck and Jerry are revealed to be lovers. Their supposed Love Interest explains that she suspected something was up after finding a bed in their workshop. Before this, there's absolutely nothing to indicate that they're not straight.
  • Unobtainium: The novel features Cheddite (a fuel created from cheese). In another scene the heroes' 747 jet is turned into a spacecraft by means of windows armored with armolite, vacuum insulation with insulite, fuel tanks filled with combustite, guns firing pellets of destructite, batteries replaced with capacitite and a space-warp drive powered by warpite.

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