The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The link in all the Legion of Space stories and the major reason for their enduring popularity is the unlikely space opera character Corporal Giles Habibula, who is based largely on William Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff from the Henry IV plays. Never the hero or romantic lead, Giles still manages to steal each story with his all-too-human complaining, wheedling, self-pitying, never-satisfied appetite for food and wine, and talent for picking locks, which, despite the advanced technology of the stories, is required to save the day in all of them. The other constant is a never-explained weapon known only by its abbreviation, AKKA, its secret usually entrusted to one Keeper of the Peace at a time. AKKA can eject anything, from a human to a planet or an entire enemy species, out of normal space.

In The Legion of Space, the Keeper is Aladoree Anthar, a descendant of the man who invented AKKA while imprisoned and who forced the abdication of the despotic Ulnar family, space exploration leaders who came to rule the system. Legionnaire John Ulnar is assigned to protect Aladoree. He is assisted by Giles, the more traditionally heroic Jay Kalam, and physical giant Hal Samdu. Unknown to John, other members of his famous family have conspired with an alien race called the Medusae to kidnap Aladoree and force the secret from her. The four Legionnaires pursue her through a series of ever-increasing perils to the home world of the Medusae, manage to rescue her, and race back to where the invaders have occupied Earth’s moon preparatory to launching their final attack. Using AKKA, Aladoree makes the moon vanish and the alien force with it. She and John Ulnar, now known as John Star, have fallen in love, and he becomes her permanent protector.

In The Cometeers, immaterial beings who are approaching the system inside a giant comet ally themselves with renegade Legionnaire Steven Orco. Jay, now commander of the Legion, delays using AKKA on the chance that the comet folk might be friendly. By the time he learns otherwise, John and Aladoree are prisoners. Their son, Bob Star, who wants to prove himself worthy of the Legion, along with...

(The entire section is 888 words.)