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Literature: The Planeteers

Series of five science-fiction short stories by John W. Campbell, published in Thrilling Wonder Stories between 1936 and 1938, and collected in book form in 1966 as The Planeteers.

Ted Penton and Rod Blake have fled Earth in their nuclear-powered spaceship, the Ion, after a mishap involving their illegal research on atomic power (it involved destroying 300 square miles of Europe in an atomic explosion). Since nobody else on Earth is willing to use atomic power, nobody can catch up with them; and so while their lawyers try to sort things out on Earth, Penton and Blake bide their time exploring the Solar System and having adventures.

We first meet up with our heroes on Mars, where they encounter centaurs and parasitic shapeshifters. Penton learns telepathy from the centaurs, which will prove useful in future dealings with intelligent aliens. After Mars, the pair proceed towards the outer system, where they start a revolution, fight blob monsters, learn alien languages, encounter high gravity and extreme cold, solve problems with the power of chemistry, etc.

The stories are:
  • "The Brain Stealers of Mars"
  • "The Double Minds"
  • "The Immortality Seekers"
  • "The Tenth World"
  • "The Brain Pirates"

The Penton and Blake stories are remembered today for their influence on Isaac Asimov's more famous stories about the robot field-testers Powell and Donovan.

Not to be confused with those other planeteers.


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