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Literature / Space Vulture

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Space Vulture is a science-fiction novel by Gary K. Wolf (of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? fame) and his childhood friend, the Archbishop John J. Myers. It is an homage to the cheesy, pulp sci-fi epics they both enjoyed as young boys, specifically Space Hawk by Anthony Gilmorenote  (as you can easily tell from the title).

In the far future, the entire galaxy trembles at the mere mention of Space Vulture, a Space Pirate and the most merciless thief, murderer, slaver, and all-around ne'er-do-well ever known by the sentient masses. His latest crime consists of kidnapping the entire population of a small Earth colony situated on the planet Verlinap, with the intention of selling them to the seedy slavers and human-traders of the planet Medusker. Only Captain Victor Corsaire, the galaxy's greatest lawman and "clean-living hero of millions," can stop him. Armed with quite a variety of combat and survival skills in spite of a painful past and many personal insecurities, Corsaire sets out to rescue the good people of Verlinap and bring the cruel and irredeemable Space Vulture to justice, with his feisty love interest Cali Russell by his side.


A secondary plot involves the only three people to escape Space Vulture's assault on Verlinap (middle-aged, half-human ruffian Gil Terry and Cali's sons, child genius Eliot and crybaby Regin) and their various attempts at finding safety and salvation in the cold reaches of space.


  • Action Girl / Action Mom: Cali Russell.
  • Alien Blood: One's blood is bright green.
  • Alien Sky: Verlinap and Medusker have oddly-colored skies.
  • And I Must Scream: Everyone who becomes a part of Space Vulture's zombie crew, though you don't know this until Cali experiences it first hand.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: In spades, for that old-school sci-fi feel.
  • Author Tract: The occasional Christian moral, presumably from Myers.
    • Mercifully, it doesn't stop the story dead in its tracks like the worst kinds of author tracts do. Mainly used in Gil's character arc and Space Vulture's near death experience where he goes to Hell before being revived.
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  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Many, most notably Two and the Valued Buyer.
  • Character Title
  • A Day In The Lime Light: There's an extended passage that's done entirely from One's POV as he and the other crew members attempt a rescue mission. This is the only time in the book where we see things from his perspective.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Cali, once she is rescued from Valued Buyer.
  • Distressed Damsel: Cali (twice)
  • Downer Ending: After being defeated and jailed by Corsaire, Space Vulture becomes the first person to escape from the galaxy's highest-security prison. The book ends with him sitting in a luxurious hotel bathtub, plotting his return to power and the heroes' demise. The final sentence implies his eventual success.
    • Though it should be noted that as the book is a blatant homage to the pulp space opera serials of the past, this could also be seen as a final homage to the cliffhangers such stories almost always ended with. The bad guy always returns to ensnare Our Heroes in his toils...
  • The Dragon: One, Space Vulture's simply-named second-in-command
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Valued Buyer and the Auctioneer.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Medusker seems based on Las Vegas.
  • Genius Bruiser: Space Vulture.
  • Genre Throwback: Wolf and Myers' purpuse in writing this novel.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Gil, but not in the traditional sense. After having lost one eye and one arm in a sports bet, he had them replaced with alien body parts.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Gil learns to believe in a higher goodness.
  • Human Popsicle: Space Vulture's nightly method for keeping himself perpetually young.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Gil Terry, although he's really more of an Anti-Hero.
  • People Farms: Some clients on Medusker buy humans for this purpose.
  • Raygun Gothic
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: One, Space Vulture's right-hand Lizardo.
  • The Reveal: Captain Corsaire and Gil Terry are secretly brothers.
  • Rogues Gallery: The group of rogues who show up to bid for Corsaire at the Buck House.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Can Head, Gil Terry's morally-upright Robot Buddy, dies near the start.
  • Space Pirate: Space Vulture.
  • Space Police: Corsaire, and the corrupt and ineffectual Star Patrol.
  • Starfish Aliens: Valued Buyer, a hideous insectoid / crustacean alien.
  • Swiss Army Appendage: Gil's alien body parts.
  • Technobabble: See Applied Phlebotinum.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: Well, it's just this one book, but still.
  • Villain Episode: One gets an extended passage all to himself (see "A Day In The Limelight", above)
  • Villain Protagonist: Gil
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Was it really necessary for Corsaire to kill Can Head? No one really calls him on it, but still...
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Eliot Russell, to outrageous degrees.
  • Zeerust: Rampant, but intentional.