Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., 2017, 326 pages
Like fellow Earthman, Tangor from the story Beyond the Farthest Star, American OSS officer Thomas Randolph is mysteriously teleported to a foreign planet where he lands in the center of a 100-year war that mirrors the Allied Powers’ struggle against Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich.
Unlike Tangor, Randolph – now Tomas Ran – finds himself behind enemy lines where he gains a first-hand view of the inner workings of the corrupt Kapar empire. Will Tomas, using his OSS skills, be able to devise a plan to escape with the beautiful Unisan prisoner, Loris Kiri, that will allow them to join her countrymen in their struggle against the Kapars?
American novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs debuted the world of Poloda in the pulp story Beyond the Farthest Star in 1940 just as Hitler’s Nazis marched across Europe and the Imperial Japanese extended their reach across the South Pacific. Burroughs’ youthful idealism regarding the nobility of America’s previous war efforts had given way to a mature perspective of the savagery of combat that stains every battlefield. Burroughs’ deeply-held views are reflected in this tale about a planet ravaged by 100 years of conflict as the nation of Unis devotes its entire existence to the struggle of freedom against tyranny.
Author Lee Strong created this second adventure on the planet Poloda, which lies beyond the Globular Cluster NGC 7006 ‘ 450,000 light years away from earth. Join Tomas Ran as he explores Poloda, battles Kapars, and finds love Beyond the Farthest Star.
Edgar Rice Burroughs novels were among the first "adult" books I read. My favorites were the Barsoom series, but I also remember liking Beyond the Farthest Star, even though I realized, even as a child, that it was both derivative of John Carter (a soldier from Earth suddenly gets transported to another planet where he ends up becoming a superhero) and wildly improbable (a planet in another galaxy has humans of similar technological level on it).
But it was good for its day, so nostalgia induced me to buy Lee Strong's authorized sequel to Beyond the Farthest Star: Soldier of Poloda.
The story is similar: an American soldier in the middle of World War II is suddenly transported from sudden death to wind up on the planet Poloda. Poloda has been locked in a hundred-year struggle between the Nazi-like Kapars and the democratic, freedom-loving Unisans. The scale of the war is constantly described as dwarfing World War II, with tens of thousands of bombers being sent out in every raid, and entire cities routinely being smashed up. There are some authorial licenses taken to explain why there is essentially no ground-fighting; the two sides have spent generations living in underground bunker-cities while they try futilely to bomb each other out of existence.
Thomas Randolph, the hero of this novel, naturally meets up with a Unisan cutie, and then goes on various adventures among both the Unisans and the Kapars. He also gets to meet the Earth hero of Burroughs' original novel. The two of them devise military strategies that somehow the native Polodans, despite being from more advanced civilizations than Earth's, have never thought of, thus eventually breaking the decades-old stalemate.
It's high pulp adventure, and true to the book it is imitating, but alas, that also makes it an artifact of the time it is imitating, and while fans of old-school pulp adventure will probably enjoy the manly exploits of Thomas Randolph, aka "Tomas Ran," for the nostalgic fun that it is, there isn't much originality here. It's just a rehash of Burroughs' writing, and I found the writing in Soldier of Poloda often dragged, with many pages consisting simply of episodic snippets describing the progress of the war.
An interesting book for Burroughs fans to add to their collection, but it doesn't really stand on its own.
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