Themes and Characters

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 321

David Starr, Space Ranger, like all the books in the Lucky Starr series, sets good against evil. As in many adult space operas, the characters fall into three distinct groups: the major heroes (David Starr, the Council of Science, Bigman Jones), the local "good guys," and the "bad guys" (one principal villain and some unpleasant bullies).

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In this book, Asimov introduces two characters who recur throughout the Lucky Starr series, David Starr and Bigman Jones. David Starr, youngest-ever member of the Council of Science, is the sole survivor of an expedition to Venus during which pirates killed his parents. Tall, athletic, and brilliant, he has carried on his father's career with the help of his father's old friends, Hector Conway and Gus Henree. John "Bigman" Jones, a scrappy, stubborn Martian farmboy who stands barely five foot two, has run afoul of some influential people on Mars. When David arrives on Mars, Bigman befriends him, and by the end of the book the farmboy has become David's permanent sidekick. These two characters and their relationship give continuity to the Lucky Starr series.

Makian, the Martian owner of the farm where David and Bigman start their investigation, is a typical corrupt landowner who resembles a classic western villain more than he does a science fiction antagonist. His foreman, Hennes, supervises a large number of farm boys and is usually accompanied by a brutal bully, Griswold. Zukis Benson, a mild-mannered research scientist, serves as the farm's resident agronomist.

Within the book's rather simplistic portrayal of good opposing evil, two secondary themes are worth noting. One is the idea of a galaxy-wide government headquartered on Earth---perhaps Asimov's prophecy of space exploration's next stage. The other is the preeminence of science and the mind: among Earth's people, none are more important than the members of the Council of Science, and in each adventure the most intelligent person---David Starr, of course---prevails by solving an apparently impossible puzzle.

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