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Space Vulture

Space Vulture

4.2 9
by Gary K. Wolf, John J. Myers

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They grew up together in a tiny Illinois town and together discovered the special thrills, the magic and wonder, that only science fiction and fantasy can offer. Half a century later, Gary K. Wolf (creator of Roger Rabbit) and John J. Myers (Roman Catholic archbishop of Newark, New Jersey) are still the best of friends. They still love fantastic fiction and its


They grew up together in a tiny Illinois town and together discovered the special thrills, the magic and wonder, that only science fiction and fantasy can offer. Half a century later, Gary K. Wolf (creator of Roger Rabbit) and John J. Myers (Roman Catholic archbishop of Newark, New Jersey) are still the best of friends. They still love fantastic fiction and its ability to stretch the mind, enrich the spirit, and warm the heart.

Determined to recapture the exhilarating science fiction of their youth, not just as it was, but as it should have been, they will transport us to the far reaches of the galaxy, where the mere mention of the interstellar pirate known as Space Vulture strikes fear into every heart and where a pioneering settler’s only hope on a hardscrabble colony world is that the dauntless lawman, Marshal Victor Corsaire, will rocket to the rescue.

Come along for the ride and discover all the adventure, suspense, action, and fun that Gary and John first found in science fiction fifty years ago and share with you now in this rollicking tale of the spaceways.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Childhood friends Wolf (creator of Roger Rabbit) and Myers (Roman Catholic archbishop of Newark, N.J.) combine forces to resurrect 1950s pulp action adventures in this hollow space western. Silver-space-suited galactic marshal Capt. Victor Corsaire is distracted from arresting smalltime crook Gil Terry when infamous (and impeccably dressed) criminal mastermind Space Vulture raids the planet Verlinap. Capturing Corsaire and a "feisty" planetary administrator, Cali Russell, Space Vulture triggers a battle of wits as he seeks to auction the lawman off to 12 of the galaxy's most wanted criminals. Meanwhile, back on Verlinap, Gil helps Cali's sons, boy genius Eliot and innocent waif Regin, fix rockets and pick pockets as they race to a final confrontation. Gimmicks like midair fistfights off the side of 600-foot cliffs trigger readers' nostalgia at the expense of bolstering the threadbare plot or defining the characters, who change moods and personalities at whim. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The robotic harvesters ignored Gil Terry as he stole the tons of glowing green mushrooms they had spent the past month plucking out of the permafrost. These mushrooms, after being processed and formed into pills, let users eat all they wanted without gaining weight. In raw form, the mushrooms sold for more per ounce than gold.

The robots dug, they sorted, they boxed, they stacked, they dug some more. They didn’t care what happened to their harvest after that. Stealing from robots was easy pickings, the kind of pickings Gil liked best.

Gil couldn’t stop shivering. He was as cold as he’d ever been. He could barely feel his feet, his nose was in the early stages of frostbite, his remaining hand was turning blue, his telescoping beetle eye wouldn’t extend outward, and only four of the joints in his cricket arm still bent. To protect himself from the sub-zero cold here on Verlinap’s northern pole, Gil wore the best thermo suit he could afford, an ancient and outdated model designed for a large insectoid. To make it fit, Gil tied off the three middle legs and sewed up the thoracic sack. He wore it upside down, putting his head through the waste hole at the bottom of the carapace bump. The result wasn’t pretty, but it worked. Usually. For the past half hour, Gil’s only warmth had come from the flaming sparks his overworked suit produced in a hopeless effort to energize itself.

Gil and his personal service robot, a no-frills fetch-and-carry model Gil called Can Head, loaded the final crate of stolen mushrooms aboard Gil’s ship. Selling these mushrooms would give Gil the money he needed to turn himself back into a complete human being.

Awhile ago, Gil had unwisely placed a large sports bet. The game’s final score brought new meaning to the term loser. When Gil couldn’t cover his wager, his hardnosed, coldhearted bookie surgically removed Gil’s right arm and one of Gil’s eyes. It was collateral, said the bookie. He promised to cryo-store Gil’s parts for three years. If Gil paid off, with interest, he could have them back. If not, grafted-on human parts had become a status symbol for hard-shelled aliens. Even aging, flabby, alcohol-sodden parts like Gil’s sold easily on the flesh market.

The bookie outfitted Gil with low-end substitutes, nothing fancy, nothing even species specific. The bookie replaced Gil’s arm with a Saurian cricket leg. Gil’s telescoping eye came from a Venusian dung beetle.

A few weeks from now, Gil’s bookie would close out the debt. Gil’s parts would be lost to him forever.

The proceeds from this load of mushrooms, when added to the funds he’d already socked away from other shady escapades, would give Gil enough to pay off his bookie and get back his parts. After a few hours of simple surgery, he could start functioning as a normal human being again.

Then it was hoo boy, watch out universe. The old Gil’s back!

Gil’s rickety four burner, the Big Devil, groaned to life. Several times a year, ships like this one plodded across the galaxy collecting convicts for transport to Purgatory, the remote planet used as a prison for convicted criminal lifers. These ships were slow, cheaply made, flimsy vessels. They were officially designated as Minimal Function Single Trip Prisoner Conveyance Ships. The crews who flew them, and the prisoners they carried, called them more simply One Way Tickets. Like the convicts they ferried, One Ways were destined to remain on Purgatory forever after. By law One Ways had to be taken apart after they finished their flights. This prevented convicts from commandeering them and using them for escape. Because of the ships’ shoddy construction, disassembly was a quick and simple process. Remove a few bolts, disengage a couple of magnetic fields, and a One Way fell to pieces. Their crews flew home in single-burner Swifters.

In the outer regions of civilization, laws carried as much weight as anything in outer space. Zero. In reality, One Ways rarely got disassembled. Intact, flyable One Ways appeared all the time on the black market, illegally resold to smugglers, pirates, and freebooters like Gil. They were risky transportation. Since they were never meant for long-term operation, they were built using marginal components and primitive technology. They broke down regularly. Failures ranged from the annoying and disabling to the catastrophic, a spontaneous disintegration or worse, a thousand megaton explosion of the ship’s leaky propulsion drive.

One Ways had another peril. To visually identify One Ways as prison ships, they were made of unpaintable day-glow red metal. Star Patrol vessels were authorized to destroy illicit One Ways on sight.

Gil took his place in the command pod.

“I have a comment,” stated Can Head.

Here it came. Gil knew from experience. Can Head was about to spout another of its irritating “shame on you’s.” Can Head had belonged to a straitlaced traveling missionary. Gil had won the robot in a poker game. If Gil had known that Can Head would harp on and on about the shady nature of his work ethic, he wouldn’t have pulled that extra ace out of his sleeve. Gil wanted to rid Can Head of its annoying goody-goodyness. Unfortunately, the robot was an old model and came to Gil without an instruction manual. Gil had put the Big Devil’s diagnostic system to work tracing Can Head’s ancient circuitry, but the ship didn’t have nearly enough computing power to do that and run the ship, too. Gil would get it done eventually, but until then . . .

“Interplanetary Statute 462, paragraph 93, subparagraph 4 makes what you did illegal. As to the ethics—”

“Cut the crap, and let’s get out of here.”

“The New Book says—”

“Up ship.”

“And I quote . . .” Can Head reached for the thruster control. It never got to finish its sermon.

A high-density ion beam swept the Big Devil. Can Head’s grappler melted off. Its dorsal energy pump withered away in a smoky, searing flash of red, orange, and green. The useless, destroyed robot toppled backward and fell to the floor.

Moments before he blacked out, Gil felt a sharp, searing pain that he realized signaled the end of life as he knew it.}

Copyright © 2008 by Gary K. Wolf and John J. Myers. All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

Gary K. Wolf is the veteran SF author best known for creating the character of Roger Rabbit in Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the basis for the hit film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, winner of three Academy Awards. He grew up in Earlville, Illinois, and now lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Most Reverend John J. Myers was the Bishop of Peoria, Illinois, before being installed as archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, in 2001. He holds a doctorate in canon law and has written in that field as well as on theological and pastoral matters. He grew up in Earlville, Illinois, and now lives in Newark, New Jersey. This is his first novel.

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Space Vulture 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this book at it's bargain price and it was a decent read. It was short, quick and easy. While I found it fairly enjoyable, the characters were too typical and I hardly found the plot interesting. However, I'm just a young college student, too young to have grown up with the old school sci fi that these authors were clearly inspired by. You can only love this one if you understand where they're coming from.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Get this book. Read this book. Have much enjoyment. This book pay extreme tribute to the days of space opera, Buck Rogers, Space Hawk 'Hawk Carse', Saturday matinee serials and good old fashioned fun. From the 'antiqued' dust jacket to the space opera cliches, this volume pack alot of adventure. Next adventure,please. The authors have done a great job of transporting me back to my days of running home from school to catch the latest episode of 'Rocky Jones, Space Ranger'. And to think...I almost didn't buy the book. Now if only Corsaire could learn to shoot when he needs to....
harstan More than 1 year ago
Galactic marshal Captain Victor Corsaire has come to Verlinap, a remote planet to arrest two bit crook Gil Terry. However, before he completes the job, notorious pirate criminal mastermind Space Vulture leads a raid on Verlinap. He captures Corsaire and the planetary administrator Cali Russell.--------------- Space Vulture decides to sell the rights to the renowned law enforcement official to the highest bidder. He invites the dirty dozen, who top the most wanted list to his auction. The highest bidder gets to do what he wants to Corsaire Vulture leans towards making spunky Cali his toy. On Verlinap, the still free and still wanted Gil helps Cali's sons by picking pockets while they fix rockets his goal is to regain his body parts hocked to his bookie whom he lost an arm and a leg and more to before the man sells them at auction their goal is to rescue mom no one¿s goal is to save Corsaire as he can rot in Purgatory as far as the kids and the crooks care.---------------- Saluting the Buck Rogers 1950s space pulp fiction thrillers, SPACE VULTURE is an entertaining throwback tale. The story line is a nostalgic amusement to a pre Star wars era as the heroes seem to jump from one adventure into another. Although the plot is razor thin, fans will enjoy this fun space opera that takes readers back in time.--------------- Harriet Klausner