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The Goddess of Ganymede Hello, and welcome to the column! Yup, you guessed it, everybody’s buddy Oddcube here with another article about the unfortunately unremembered, as that’s what I’m all about. Yessiree, I find cool stuff new and old that may have slipped under the radar and bring it to your attention…basically so you know what you’re missing. See? It’s kind of a public service! Aren’t you glad I’m here? This time, I’m talking about a book. Yeah, yeah, I know. Reading is square! But with a name like Oddcube I simply can’t cut corners! But I digress (and I do it well!)… The title of the book is The Goddess of Ganymede, written by some guy called Michael Resnick. If you’re square and read, too, then you may have heard of him. Cuz when I looked him up on the internet I found out that he has written a whole boatload of books, has won five Hugo awards, and been nominated for several more. He’s written over two-hundred novels, edited tabloid newspapers and men’s magazines, and produced regular columns on horse racing and breeding collies. His wife, Carol, and his daughter, Laura, are also writers, but that’s got nothing to do with this book. Apparently, the book was first published in 1967, but I have a reprint from 1968 published by the Paperback Library. I found it one time when I took my Poor Old Mother ™ to one of the local used bookstores. It appeared to be good B-Movie cheese; complete with a watercolor cover by J. Jones of a Man with Sword Raised High protecting a Scantily-Clad Chick from a Big Blue Monster (With Hoofs!) under a tree amidst grassy and rocky terrain. The tag line declares the story is a “Fantastic, barbaric adventure on Jupiter in the exciting tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs”. Now who could ask for better than that? Now, for the record, I’ve read exactly one Edgar Rice Burroughs book and that was A Princess of Mars. Yes, I know there are other books in the series, I am collecting them, but haven’t read them yet. I also have Pellucidar, of which I have only read the prologue. Now, I read A Princess of Mars and I liked it, but it seemed to me there was some vocabulary words in there I hadn’t covered in English class, and that he was a little long-winded…usually in the wrong spots. But, you know what? I basically find that about English literature in general, and it gets worse the farther back you go. I mean, I can read Poe, but his writing style, contemporary and trendy back in his day, is oldfashioned and kinda weird now. I usually understand what’s going on with only a little effort. Shakespeare I have to completely translate; might as well be a clay tablet covered in Egyptian Hieroglyphics. So, maybe I’m just a dumb high-school drop-out. Or maybe I’m just a modern victim of pop culture, having suffered through too many action films and video games. And the casualty, of course, is my short atten...what was I talking
about? Oh yeah, this book I read! So, at the beginning of the book, this guy Resnick dedicates the story to Burroughs fans everywhere and “Hopes we enjoy reading this Burroughs pastiche as much as he enjoyed writing it.” Now, I thought a pastiche was when you took the guy’s character and world and wrote your own stories. Sort of an official version of fan fiction. That’s not what this is, though. I think it’s more of an homage. Whatever it is, it does a great job, I think, of evoking the atmosphere of John Carter of Mars. You know how Burroughs likes to start off in a pseudo-biographical way saying “I put this ham radio together wrong and communicated with a man in the center of the earth,” or “I was sitting on the rocky shore minding my own business when a bottle floats up to me, inside it is a manuscript written by some poor shmuck stuck on an island with a bunch of dinosaurs,” and… well, that sort of thing? Well, that’s how this story starts, too. So the author gets a ham radio as a gift from a well-meaning relative. But he’s no techie, and puts it together wrong. Then, one dark and stormy night, it works! But it doesn’t work right… He’s picking up a guy who claims to be radio-ing from one of the moons around the planet Jupiter! The author, of course, listened to his story, and eventually wrote it down, and that’s the book we’re reading. So here’s the sitch: the story is set in the 60s, and NASA has three top-secret projects going on: to put a man on the moon, to put a man on Mars, and to put a man on Jupiter. We were racing against the Soviets, and pressure was put on all three projects. Project Jupiter had sent two separate astronauts into space, but lost all radio contact somewhere beyond the asteroid belt. So they decide to get someone expendable for the next trip. They find world-traveling adventurer, Adam Thane, who jumps at the unique opportunity. So they shoot him into space, he loses radio contact and continues on to Jupiter. He manages to land on the moon of Ganymede. Turns out that Ganymede is a habitable planetoid with breathable air and everything. The gravity of Ganymede is lower than that of Earth, and Adam’s muscles are so strong that he is capable of certain super-human feats: most notably; his jumping ability has been magnified. While exploring the forest he crashed into, he gets followed by some dangerous beast that hides in the shadows. While eluding the beast, he loses his sense of direction and cannot find his ship. But he gets found by a very tall red man with wings, who takes our hero to the rest of his people. These red wingy people are Kroths (which is almost “Thark” backwards… I guess it is, phonetically). Adam is given to a chick named Kraala, who teaches him the standard language of Ganymede. The King of the Kroths, Bular, kinda likes him and explains that the Kroths are about to go to war with the city of Rombus. He says to Adam, “I’ll give ya a choice, either enlist in our army, or we’ll just have to kill ya now.” Adam says, “You make a persuasive argument, Kingy, where do I sign up?”
It turns out that the people of Rombus look like regular human beings, except that their skin is golden. Adam Thane is a novelty cuz he’s the only white dude on the whole planet. Some officer is jealous of the attention he’s getting from the King and slaps Kraala. Why? To tick off Adam, of course! Adam kills the officer and everyone says, “Well, nobody liked him much anyway.” Turns out that Kraala is King Bular’s daughter (and still the guy slapped her!), so the King offers the officer’s rank to Adam, who accepts. He is now… sort of a Duke of Kroth, and a leader of its armies. So we march off to attack the city of Rombus, even though we don’t really want to fight them, and we expect to lose. See, it turns out that these Rombus shmucks killed some of our people, and then killed the guys we sent to negotiate peace. We got no choice but to attack. Adam Thane says, “Ok, night’s falling, we can attack under cover of darkness…” But other army guys say, “We can’t do that! There might be a God in there, we could kill him by accident, and then we’d really be in trouble!” So while the army waits for dawn, Adam decides to sneak into Rombus and look around. He jumps up to a balcony and enters the palace, wanders around and just HAPPENS to find the local bad-guy, Savus Vir, scheming with his lackeys. Turns out this shmuck started the war with the Kroths so that, in the confusion, he could kill the King of Rombus, chuck the Prince in the dungeon, marry the Princess and seize the Throne! They don’t get much shmuckier than that! And, of course, once they discover Adam, they sic the guards on him. Adam’s outnumbered and runs away, and just HAPPENS to find the Princess Delisse fighting off the unwanted sexual advances of Kaz, a visiting God. The short version is: Delisse is the most beautiful chick he’s ever seen, so he rushes to her defense and kills Kaz. Then they get caught by Savus Vir’s guards and Adam gets chucked into the dungeon with the Prince, Talon Gar. Then we just sorta hang out in the dungeon for FOUR MONTHS! Apparently, the situation wasn’t bad enough to break out and fix it. But then this guard gets thrown in and tells us that the Princess Delisse was given to Tarafolga, the King of the Gods, in reparation for the death of Kaz. Tarafolga wants to marry Delisse and that’s when Adam jumps up and says “We gotta bust outta here!” So they do. They send the guard to Kroth to tell the red wingy people what’s going on while Adam and Prince Talon Gar go to Malthor, city of the Gods. We find out that these Gods are not really Gods. They are regular people with a Longevity Elixir so they don’t seem to get old and die like everyone else. Tarafolga, however, has the ability to mesmerize people which is probably why he’s the top falafel. Then we disguise the Prince as a Malthorian guard and, claiming that Adam Thane is his prisoner, they boldly try to march right in the front door of the Temple. Unfortunately, one of Savus Vir’s lackeys is there, explaining how they had escaped from
the dungeons in Rombus. He IDs them and they go running through the streets of Malthor, and duck into a random building. Here, they just HAPPEN to meet Gor Haiton, the leader of the meager Malthorian Resistance. Gor Haiton explains that no one likes the Gods and is too chicken to do much about it. He says some external force would have to come and overpower the Gods, then the Malthorians would be okay folks. He has a plan to cause some trouble and kill as many Gods as possible…immediately after Tarafolga’s marriage to Delisse. Adam says that ain’t good enough, we have to stop the wedding! So Prince Talon Gar, still disguised as a guard, goes out to reconnoiter. Two weeks later, since we’ve heard nothing from Talon Gar, Adam decides to go look for him. He climbs on top of a building across the street from the Temple and uses the strong winds of a storm to carry him across the street and into an open window. So he wanders through the temple and finds the Gods conducting a ceremony, which he watches. Tarafolga spouts a lot of hooey, then hypnotizes all of the reluctant worshippers. The Gods abduct a young chick to rape, and commit a sacrifice. Then Tarafolga ends the daily ceremonies and dismisses everyone. Then he announces that he knew Adam was there the whole time. They have a confrontation, which ends with Adam poking out one of Tarafolga’s eyes, which drastically reduces his hypnotic powers. But the guards come and chase him away before he can just kill the bad guy. Running away from the Temple guards, he hides in a room which just HAPPENS to be Delisse’s room! They exchange niceties and she says her brother is in the dungeons. Adam gets captured and is thrown into (bum, bum, BUM) the Chamber of Madness! The only way out of the Chamber of Madness is to jump up to these crossbeams twenty feet above the floor. Our hero, Adam Thane, is the only guy on Ganymede who could hope to do it. He sees them in the first five minutes but has to endure the tortures of the Chamber for FOUR DAYS before he finally leaves! What a dumb hero! But he does escape, and he finds the wedding ceremony and causes trouble, and stalls long enough that Gor Haiton and the Resistance attack! They are dreadfully outnumbered and have no chance to win, so Adam escapes with the Princess Delisse and goes back to Rombus to raise an army and come back to save Talon Gar. So, we unite the Kroths and the Rombusites, and capture that shmuck, Savus Vir. They say to Savus Vir, “You got two choices, you can tell everyone that you abdicate to Talon Gar and Delisse and leave town, or we can kill you and put Talon Gar and Delisse in charge.” Savus Vir says, “You make a very persuasive argument,” and abdicates and is released. How dumb is that? They let him go, knowing he was gonna come back later and cause trouble! Stupid good guys! So, Adam finally kisses Delisse who says “I’ve been waiting for you to do that for the last fifteen chapters” and we leave her in Rombus, and take the armies of Rombus and Kroth to attack the Gods of Malthor. We totally kick butt, but Tarafolga escapes (who
didn’t see THAT coming?). We find Talon Gar and Gor Haiton in the dungeons and free them. Then we put Gor Haiton in charge of Malthor and go back to Rombus where—gasp —the Princess Delisse has been kidnapped by (you’ll never guess, go on, try!) Savus Vir AND Tarafolga! Adam goes after them and basically walks the whole hemisphere looking for them. He finally chases them into a forest and gets mauled by a monster while trying to sneak up on them. He kills the monster. Tarafolga gloats over his body and says they’re going to take Delisse to the East side of the planet (devastated long ago by some sort of nuclear war) and create a new empire, then he and Savus Vir leave Adam to the mercy of the monsters of the forest. Adam crawls along the forest and finds his space ship again. He crawls inside and heals up. While doing so, he fiddles with the radio controls and manages to contact the author in the prologue! This is the story he told! That’s the end of the friggin book! What a lousy ending! I forgave all the stupid things in the story cuz I KNEW I just KNEW he was gonna kill those two shmucks by the end of the story and then he DIDN’T! Aargh! This ticks me off more then when they killed Goldmoon (she came back to life in the next chapter, so it was okay), and not quite as much as when the Storm-troopers killed Het Nkik! That’s my all-time high, the one event I read that boiled my blood worse than any other book I ever borrowed from the library! There is NO To Be Continued. There is NO advertisement page for other books by this guy Resnick (apparently this was his first book). Nor for other books by this publisher. BUT, looking online, I found out that there is a sequel called Pursuit on Ganymede, where Adam Thane chases Tarafolga to the East side of the planet to rescue the Princess Delisse. So, I’m guessing he still gets to kill the bad guy. But a little warning would’ve been nice! Except for the crummy ending…I use that term loosely since it didn’t end, it only stopped…and the complete lack of info about the story being a two-parter, I really liked the story, cheese and all! The Goddess of Ganymede, and the sequel Pursuit on Ganymede, are available from Amazon and other online places that sell books. I found mine in a second-hand bookstore, so you could try there. Now for the highly scientific rating system I’ve devised for my reviews. It’s a pair of D&D percentage dice. A double-zero means 100, and is the best rating possible! A zero-one is the lowest-possible rating and means it should be avoided at all costs! Now, I wanna point out that the ending ticked me off enough that I’m giving my rating roll a -10 modifier. It peeved me off THAT bad! But… since I rolled a 91, even with the modifier this book is rated a good 81!
Well, there ya have it folks! And that’s all I got to say about that! So tune in next time when I talk about… uh… I don’t know what! Be there and be square!
------Your Buddy Oddcube
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