Spacehounds of IPC

E. E. "Doc" Smith
Spacehounds of IPC Cover

Spacehounds of IPC: A Tale of the Inter-Planetary Corporation


"It slices, it dices, it juliennes fries!"

Yes, the evil alien race has spherical shps that can literally slice right through a space ship at range, and no shields or armor can even slow it down. Just like in the cover illustration.

Still, on the good guys side are three geniuses and their combined brainpower serves to give the humans, and their new found Jovian allies, the upper hand in dealing with the monomaniacal alien horde.

This story of alien invasion, first contact and space opera is in some ways the epitome of Smith's style. There are long discourses on how certain systems and technologies work, elaborate descriptions of spaceship components and their function, and cliché relationships between men and women.

On top of that, there is a very peculiar and jarring vernacular Smith has invented, which appears to be based in 1930's era idoms and slang with a large helping of invented space lingo. Whenever the protragonists agree or confirm something, they say "all x", though there is absolutely no indication why they say this instead of OK or any other more common response. There are many more examples of this.

But about the actual plot: Why a ship on the way to Mars is captured and taken to Jupiter is not in any way clear. Noir is the reason why the aliens, who wish to destroy anything not of their own kind, pay no attention to Mars after seizing the ship they way they do. Instead, the alien menace retreats permanently to Jupiter, where it faces several other opposing races. In other words, it makes little or no sense that the Arcturus is captured when the aliens are so busy around Jupiter.

Once marooned there, the hero and heroine discover that Ganymede is completely hospticably to human life, and even has intelligent beings in large numbers, though they also seem widly violent and destructive.

In summary, if there is one classic space opera by Smith you want to try, this should be the one, because you will either be captivated by the story and want to read his other works, or completely put off by the style of writing, dialogue and character building, and leave Smith behind forever. And no, the later Lensman and Skylark series are not major improvements, just variations on a theme Smith used to great profit.