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YMMV / Skylark Series

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Are Seaton and company the incorruptible beacons of good and ideal specimens of humanity that the book portrays them as, or are they impetuous Man-Children who judge entire species based on first impressions and who accidentally stumbled upon something that the human race can by no means be trusted with, as shown by the fact that they have no qualms about killing their enemies to the last man, woman, and child, even when the latter try to retreat.
  • Designated Hero: The Kondalians have practically no traits that would be considered sympathetic by modern readers. They have no concept of democracy, race-based slavery is unquestioned, they've been at war for 6000 years over ideology, are Social Darwinists who believe themselves a Superior Species, and admit to having no concept of mercy. All in all, they are no better than the Mardonalians; the only reason they are considered good is because they were nice to the heroes.
    • Unlike the Mardonalians, and the villains generally in the series, the Kondalians are not Absolute Xenophobes, but willing to co-operate peacefully with other planets. That said, they are typically portrayed as a species of Proud Warrior Race Guys, with a strong whiff of Barsoom. They're very flawed good guys, and they do occasionally get called out on their warmongering by the human protagonists. In fact Dunark eventually decides not to share the knowledge Seaton gained from the Norlaminians with the rest of his species, since he knows that they can’t be trusted with it.
  • Evil Is Cool: DuQuesne. Come on, admit it.
  • Fairforitsday: The idea of an Asian manservant seems cliche and racist these days, but Seaton's "Jap" was actually pretty capable at hand-to-hand combat, gunplay, and security and repeatedly manages to fend off terrestrial bad guys. He actively defies their racist stereotype that he'll take a bribe, even when they offer him 50 grand (more than half a million in 2018 money).
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  • Harsher in Hindsight: The Federation’s war against the Fenachrone. The latter are a bunch of malignantly expansionist Rubber-Forehead Aliens planning to expand from their own single planet; Seaton and company object to their plans. So far, so good. Their reaction, however, is first to threaten and bully the Fenachrone with their own overwhelming might until they declare war on them in desperation, then — when as defenders, the Fenachrone hold the moral high ground — nuke their planet and launch a successful attempt to exterminate the refugees completely. While it’s clear the Fenachrone are aggressive militarists and potentially genocidal themselves, they also aren't really a threat to the vastly superior technology and numbers of the good guys at this point, and indeed have to display a fair amount of Villainous Valor merely in order to survive the attempted genocide, and they ultimately fail. Besides the questions of Disproportionate Retribution and general Values Dissonance, to modern audiences the whole affair also reads a lot like the Roosevelt administration’s historical warmongering and bullying of Imperial Japan, which ultimately lead to Pearl Harbor, the Pacific War and Hiroshima.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Nowadays, there is a real restaurant chain called Perkins. Considering how the character was portrayed in the book, it is potentially Fridge Horror.
    • When the Norlaminians give Seaton knowledge of the inner workings of the universe, it includes the “fact” that subatomic particles are made up of smaller particles, which are made up of smaller particles, and so on ad infinitum. About six years later, the classic short story “He Who Shrank” would go the reductio ad absurdum route with the trope (which had already been disproved by science).
  • Magnificent Bastard: DuQuesne.
  • Older Than They Think: A “dark star”, essentially a black hole,note  and mushroom clouds produced by the atomic/total conversion of explosive shells. Both in The Skylark of Space, published in 1928.
    • Early drafts are said to go all the way back to 1916. That is sixty years before Star Wars.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • The Fenachrone have mapped out the entire galaxy. Furthermore, they could invade a given planet at any time they want.
    • By the end of Skylark Three, the heroes can project themselves anywhere, can destroy whole planets with ease, and can reconstruct a perfect record of what anyone did at any point in the past. Just imagine that kind of power in the hands of a totalitarian state.


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