Siege Perilous, Lester Del Rey (1966)

October 16th, 2009

This is a juvenile or young adult novel about a space station under siege by aliens. I found it lacked much appeal in that the characters were all just a little flat and the situations, while often humorous were not realistic. The plot was full of strange turns and unbelievable elements.

In a nutshell, Martians take over a space station full of atomic weapons. They find this very easy to do because the people on the station are not prepared to defend it. The Martians learned to speak English from listening to TV broadcasts of late night movies. They either speak like cowboys or gangsters. All that they know about mankind comes from these old black and white movies, which they do not understand to be fiction.

The aliens capture most of the humans, but there is a man who was injured while building the space station and can’t return to earth because of his injuries (I don’t understand this either). He knows all the secrets of the station and with the help of a beautiful girl and a few rescued crewmen they manage to outsmart the Martians and retake the station.

There was too much wrong with the story line, the plotting, the language and the concepts in the book, to accept it as anything but a wasted day of reading. My opinion of Mr. Del Rey has dropped significantly because of this. My previous contact with Del Rey was from the collection Mortals and Monsters, which I liked and Nerves, which is a difficult read, but an important novel. I think that I have read some of his other YA novels, but I can’t remember them.

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