Space Eagle: Operation Star Voyage

Time for another installment in the series of book reviews which I call "Books That are not Worth Reviewing" – This time, it's a sequel to another book not worth reviewing. Today's book is The Space Eagle: Operation Star Voyage, a young adult novel published in 1970.

Writing book reviews for books which aren't worth reviewing is a bit of a challenge. First, you don't want to review a book that is total crap – there's plenty of books out there which are bad, forgettable, or haven't stood the test of time. A book can fall into any one of those categories, but still not make the grade of Book not Worth Reviewing. Second, a book not worth reviewing will often not be in print anymore, so you should be pretty thorough when reviewing, since anyone who reads the review probably won't even have a chance to read the book. You, dear reader, would have to go to great lengths to find a copy of the book to read, nor should you want to read it – if it was worth reading, it would also be worth reviewing, and then it wouldn't be here.

Thinking about these problems reminds me of the Museum of Bad Art, a museum outside of Boston. The museum's mission is "to celebrate the labor of artists whose work would be displayed and appreciated in no other forum". They have about 500 pieces which fall into this category. But, you can't just slap some paint on a canvas to get into the collection. "The pieces in the MOBA collection range from the work of talented artists that have gone awry to works of exuberant, although crude, execution by artists barely in control of the brush. What they all have in common is a special quality that sets them apart in one way or another from the merely incompetent. " The art in MOBA is definitely bad, but going there is AWESOME.

So, with thoughts of 'exuberance', it's time to learn more about Operation Star Voyage, a book full of exuberance for itself, hope for the future, and belief in liberty and the essential goodness of the American way.

The Space Eagle: Operation Star Voyage is printed and bound very similar to the original The Space Eagle: Operation Doomsday. I bought my copy online for a couple bucks. It was somewhat hard to find, but not impossible. Like the original, this is an "authorized edition" and it is penned by Jack Pearl and illustrated by Arnie Kohn. The illustrations seem to be a little less refined than they were in the first book, if such a thing is possible. Characters are posed awkwardly, limbs pointing in strange directions. A lot of harsh angles. The ink quality seems lower as well. Luckily, it still has the "Space Eagle Pledge to America."

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The book starts less than a year after the events in Operation Doomsday. In many ways, the start of this book is very similar to the original and it hits the ground running. Paul gets an opportunity to show off his talents while surfing on Waikiki Beach. He catches a huge wave – the biggest of the day – with a friend and a bunch of other surfers. A crowd on the beach watches them "as they rode this mountainous monster at breathtaking speed."

Surfers are crashing all over the place, until only Paul remains. Of course, he masters the wave – an envious man says "Who else? Big man, Girard – does everything better than anyone else." Conveniently, a newcomer wants to know just who Paul is. She wonders if he's a movie star. And thus, we get a quick summary:

"Who is Paul Girard?" she asked. "A movie star?" With his dark good looks, hazel eyes, and bronzed skin, Paul was frequently mistaken for an actor. Her friend laughed. "No, he's not a movie star, though I heard he once turned down a fabulous contract from a major studio to play himself." The other girl's eyes widened. "They made a movie about Paul Girard? Who is he, anyway?" [...] Ever since Paul Girard had won an Olympic gold medal at the age of fifteen, hardly a day had passed without some mention of his name in the newspapers of the world. At seventeen he had been decorated by the President for his heroism while serving with the Green Berets in Vietnam. At nineteen he made the College All-American football team. He graduated cum laude from the nation's leading law school and went to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. And now, as chairman of the board of the vast industrial empire known as the House of Girard Cosmetics and Chemical Company, he still made time to pursue numerous hobbies: judo (Black Belt), scuba diving, polo, racing cars, planes, and spaceships, and a score of less publicized pastimes such as painting and sculpturing -- not to mention being the darling of the jet set at the world's most fashionable vacation resorts, like Waikiki Beach, where he was attending an international convention of the Chemical Research Institute.

Paul rides the wave to the end. But he needs to rush away from his crowd of worshippers – the President is calling on his little earpiece phone! Paul races off to find a hiding spot – puzzling a number of his fans – then he puts together his phone and calls back the President. Every time Paul has to use this phone, he needs to remove the tiny earpiece from his ear, then manipulate it with some jeweler's tools, which he always has stashed on him somewhere. It has a microscopic rotary phone dial, so Paul uses an eyepiece and pin to dial up the President.

The President gives Paul some bad news – the Soviets are about to make some breakthroughs on an antimatter engine – currently, there's only one such engine, and it's the one which powers Paul's ship, the SWIFT. If the Russians are able to develop an engine, it will radically upset the global balance of power.

The SWIFT is powered by spartanium, an extremely rare element which was actually smuggled out of Russia – the USA has no access to a source. Professor Nikel Khazov, the scientist who smuggled it out, figured out how important it was, and secreted it away to the US – without the Russians even knowing what it was or what it could be used for – but it sounds like they've found out! Khazov's old assistant Kerenko – who is still behind the Iron Curtain – has secretly contacted him to let him know about a top secret mining project in Siberia, where they are refining spartanium. If the Soviets are successful, they'll be able to make a fleet of powerful ships, while the USA will only have Paul's ship.

The President orders Paul to infiltrate the Siberian base. His mission is to find out how far along they are, and bring back an ore sample for analysis. The hope is that they can find some other part of the solar system with a similar mineral composition, and manage to get spartanium there instead.

Paul rushes back to the Girard Foundation, where he meets up with his sister Julie. "People meeting Julie professionally for the first time were always startled by the sight of this attractive young woman with long coppery hair, wide hazel eyes, and a trim figure. She looked more like a fashion model than one of the world's foremost scientists." This is an upgrade on how she was described in the first novel. Julie actually seems somewhat respected in this book, and isn't constantly beating herself up. However, she's also a less important character than she is in the first novel.

Julie is working on improving the SWIFT's underwater performance. This isn't pertinent to anything that happens in the novel, but we can guess that it would've been important to the third novel, if it were ever written.

Paul and Julie meet with Khazov – who isn't supposed to know about Paul's secret identity. However, Khazov seems to let it slip that he does – intrigue! After the meeting, Paul and Julie take a drive to the family estate in Paul's "custom convertible sports car." Paul asks Julie if she thinks Khazov knows the truth:

"You mean, he may be beginning to guess that you're something more than a spoiled playboy?" Julie goaded him. Paul grinned. "Watch it, little sister! You're still not too big to spank."

Paul and Julie reach the family estate in the middle of the night. In the morning, they have breakfast with their mother Emilie.

"You look a little peaked, dear, " she said as she kissed her daughter. "You really shouldn't work so hard." Julie laughed. "Don't say it, Mother: I should get out with young people my own age instead of keeping myself locked up in that dismal lab." Paul laughed, too. "What she really means is that you should find a nice young man and get married." His sister winked. "Fat chance! Every time I bring a boy home, he falls hopelessly in love with mother."

Paul's reason for visiting his mother is that he wants to take the estate manager, Samuel Aarons, on his mission. Sam is in the first book as well, although he was a seemingly minor character, so I left him out of my review. However, he's important in this book, so here's his story.

"The reason for this surprise visit, Mother," Paul explained, "is that I'm off on a hunting trip to Canada, and I wondered if you'd mind if I borrowed Sam for a few weeks." "I don't mind if Sam doesn't," she told him. "Sam doesn't mind," a deep, resonant voice said from the kitchen doorway. A broad smile illuminated the handsome black face. Samuel Aarons was a giant in every respect -- big of body, mind, and heart. His bald head gleamed like a polished ball. No one knew how old he was, but he had worked for the family since Emilie (Paul's mother) was a young girl. Years earlier, Paul's grandfather had saved Sam from prison, or worse, after he had struck and accidentally killed a man who was beating a horse. To atone for his tragic outburst of rage, Sam had become a student of Hindu and other Oriental philosophies which taught restraint and nonviolence. Throughout Paul's upbringing, Sam had been a major influence in his development. High ideals, strong character, and regard for physical and moral fitness had, to a great extent, been instilled in him by Sam. In all the world Paul Girard had no closer or dearer friend than "Mr. Sam," as he called him fondly as a boy.

For all the respect Paul has for Sam, he has been abusing their relationship to some extent. He has actually taken Sam on a couple of missions already, but he has used post-hypnotic suggestion to make him remember everything that happens. But Sam is asking questions, and thinks maybe Paul is up to something that isn't so good. Anyway, Paul gets permission from the President to deputize Sam. That way, Paul can be honest with Sam, and he fills him in on everything. Paul gives Sam a silver medallion on a chain, embossed with an Eagle. Conveniently, the deputy medallion can be used to send out a distress signal!

Julie drives Paul and Sam to a remote clearing, where they summon the SWIFT from its hiding place in orbit. Once it lands "They took their places in the foam-padded, leather-covered contour seats in front of the main control panel and instrument board." Nice! The SWIFT blasts off for a quick voyage to Siberia. Sam takes a moment to admire the view:

"From up here a man realizes just how small and insignificant he really is. Do you feel that too?" Paul smiled. "Small, maybe. But never insignificant, Sam. All of us matter very much. Every man has his own special importance."

As they travel, Paul checks on the assorted systems of the rocket, which gives the user something to learn about. The radar system can detect a pea-sized object from 10,000 miles away. There are lasers in front and back, strong enough to drill through three feet of "cadmium steel." And, there's a rocket launcher which fires rockets full of knockout gas.

Paul gets into his Siberian slave laborer costume. Luckily he speaks fluent Russian, along with about 20 other languages. He breaks out his special disguise kit, also used in the first book, which he uses to actually physically change his face – with a little bit of wacky chemistry, he changes his face to look more Russian too.

They land about 10 miles from the prison/mine. Paul leaves Sam behind with the ship with explicit instructions to activate the autopilot and launch into space if any Soviets show up. As he leaves the ship…

A chill wind whipped fine snow into his new face. The night was frigid and unfriendly, and, silhouetted against a full moon on a distant hilltop, a wolf was howling at the dark sky. Its mournful cry echoed across the valley. A lesser man than Paul Girard would have turned right around and gone back to his ship. And who could have blamed him?

The mine is surrounded by a tall, electrified fence. Paul manages to knock out a guard patrol with his dart gun, and breaks through the fence with one of their laser guns. He sneaks into one of the prisoner barracks and pretends to be asleep. And just in time! Right after that the guards show up – there's an intruder in the camp! Paul jokes with the Captain – "Some joke, eh, fellows? Can you imagine anybody wanting to get in here?" Apparently his disguise is very convincing. As he leaves, the Captain says "If there's a spy in the area, he's certainly not in here. These miserable mine workers all have that same pasty look about them."

Before catching some sleep, Paul befriends one of the prisoners, Reutov, who recognizes that he doesn't belong there. He introduces himself as "Drarig", his last name spelled backward. Clever!

Paul spends the day in the mines, and he collects an ore sample in the process. Since all the prisoners are exhausted from being in the mines for so long, Paul sticks out – he is strong and has plenty of energy. Reutov questions him, and Paul is worried that he'll tell the guards something. That night, while all the prisoners are sleeping, Paul knocks out a guard and switches clothes with him.

On his way out, Paul tracks down Kerenko, who tells him that the USSR is very close to having a working antimatter engine. Bummer! Since they have a source of spartanium, they will quickly have the upper hand over the USA in the space race. Kerenko has sabotaged things to slow down their progress, but not enough.

Paul looks out the window to see soldiers streaming into the building. Paul tries to convince Kerenko to escape with him. He declines, saying that "Russia is my motherland. I love her. And it is my duty to stay here and continue the good fight for freedom with all my courageous countrymen who are striving for that worthy goal." Paul is moved, and tells Kerenko that he'll win, and he's not alone. And when asked for his name, Paul tells Kerenko to call him the Space Eagle. And then it's off to the roof for a thrilling escape!

On the way up, he uses his transmitter to summon the SWIFT. He holds his ground on the roof for a couple seconds, firing laser blasts over the heads of the soldiers, until the ship swoops in, and he escapes.

Back at the Girard labs, the ore sample doesn't help them much – they were hoping it might lead to another source outside of the USSR. Unfortunately, the ore doesn't have the characteristics of any other soil on the planet or in the solar system.

But they think a little more, and realize that there might be spartanium somewhere else in the galaxy. After a little analysis, they realize that there's spartanium at Proxima Centauri, the star closest to the sun. How convenient!

Anyway, they brief the president, and just like in the first book, he gets a primer on the Theory of Relativity. In the universe of these books, this includes a concept of space warp, so that Paul can speed off to another star system without really losing any time at all. The President decides to send Paul on a mission to Proxima Centauri in the SWIFT.

So Paul and Sam hop into the ship and set off. Paul spends awhile explaining how the drive works as they accelerate. It's taking awhile though, so Paul decides to drop the hammer, even though he promised to Julie he would only go so fast. Julie is concerned that bad things will happen if they accelerate past twice the speed of light. Paul remembers the conversation:

The concept of accelerating an object up to twice the speed of light has defied the superbrains of our most advanced computers. Quite literally, they just stall and blow their circuits. Paul had smiled and reminded her, "Remember, dear sister, back in 1492, the best brains of all the world predicted that Columbus would sail over the edge of the world."

This is basically the way Paul treated Julie throughout the first novel. His sister is actually really worried about something terrible happening, but Paul decides to ignore her advice and he speeds up the SWIFT. It doesn't go too well. Paul and Sam both get knocked out. When they awaken, they discover that they are in orbit around another planet. Suddenly they're confronted by an incoming ship, "a perfect sphere, constructed of metal that shone like polished gold." Shortly after that, they are contacted and have a fairly bizarre conversation.

They looked up as the radio speaker crackled to life. A high, reedy voice addressed them: "Invaders... invaders... can you hear me? Reply through your transmitter. We are tuned to your frequency, and your radio system has been reactivated. The remainder of your systems, including your weapons system, is dead." A pained look spread over Paul's face as he replied to the query. "Your choice of words is inaccurate. We are aliens. But we are not invaders. We come in peace." To his amazement, his statement was greeted by tinkling laughter. More than one person, or creature, was laughing. The strange voice spoke again. "That is very funny -- yes, I believe funny is your word for what we feel." "I don't understand," Paul said. "No matter," was the retort. "For now, it's sufficient for you to know that you are our prisoners." "Prisoners!" Paul and Sam exclaimed at the same time. "I told you we come in peace -- to seek your help, as a matter of fact." "To seek our help?" the voice said, with sudden interest. "How odd. We are now preparing to take your craft in tow. I hope you will not make us resort to force." "I told you we are peaceful visitors," Paul repeated with some annoyance. This seemed a poor time to have to defend his integrity.

The SWIFT is placed in tow, and carried to the surface of the planet.

The first close-up look at this planet was breathtaking. There were trees, grass, mountains, rivers -- all of the same physical characteristics of Earth, but the colors were all different. Grass and leaves were brilliant yellow. Water was a bright crimson. The soil itself was orange. "Looks like one of those surrealistic paintings," Sam commented. "Much more colorful than your drab homeland," said the reedy voice indifferently. "I'll take the bluegrass of Kentucky anytime," Sam said indignantly. "Blue grass?" The voice sounded puzzled. "But your grass is green, isn't it?" This time it was Paul and Sam's turn to do the laughing.

The SWIFT and the sphere land in a big hangar. Sam and Paul receive some pills through their airlock, which will help them survive in a different atmosphere. <blockquote> "You are now about to disembark on the planet Mega Three," the radio announced. "If you show any hostility whatsoever, you will be vaporized at once." </blockquote>

They leave the ship, and meet their captors:

They looked remarkably like Earthmen, except that they were pygmy-sized and were entirely hairless. Their skin was albino white, almost as transparent as glass, so that the veins in their hands and faces and whatever parts of their bodies were exposed were clearly visible.

So, Megans are basically ageless, childlike humans. And, they have surrounded Paul and Sam. They quickly learn that the Megans can read their thoughts, and that they think of them as "savages." Captain Muz is the leader of the "Mega Three Space Patrol" which captured the SWIFT. He tells Paul and Sam that they are the first invaders in over 2,000 years. Paul protests being called savage – "We don't think of ourselves as savages" he says. Muz replies "Oh, but I think you do," said Muz, with an amused expression.

This phase of the book is largely about the Megans being critical of Earth, based on their ability to monitor our radio transmissions, and on the occasional visit to our planet - one of which regrettably happened during World War Two – so their opinion of us isn't very high. But Paul and Sam don't give up.

"That must have been WWII," Paul mused. "But you must know, too, that there are good , noble men on Earth who are striving to put an end to that kind of savagery -- to crime and prisions, as well. We'll do it, too, someday... But, remember, your civilization is much older than ours. I'll wager that in the beginning you had some savages of your own to deal with." Captain Muz seemed genuinely moved by the passion and sincerity with which Paul spoke. "You two gentlemen are of a higher order than the average Earthlings, I think. Well, let us be on our way."

Paul and Sam are taken to their quarters – there are no prisons or holding cells. They encounter all sorts of Megans on their trip – all wearing brightly colored togas and colored headbands. "They were pretty cute, he observed – like children's dolls on Earth."

They reach their quarters, which look "cheerful" and remind Paul of an "ultramodern hotel room" he stayed in in Scandinavia once. It has a kitchen which dispenses red water and delicious food, "if a bit too gaudily colored for Paul's taste."

"All of our food products are synthetically produced from basic vegetable organic matter," the captain explained. "It is forbidden to slaughter animals or to eat their flesh." "I like that," Sam said. "It reminds me of the philosophy of Gnadu Goldan, the great Tibetan mystic." [emphasis mine] Muz nodded. "It is against the laws of our society to kill any living creature." "I'm glad to hear that!" Paul said, grinning. Muz's face was solemn. "Except in the case of hostile aliens who invade the atmosphere of our planet."

AWWWKWARD! Not shockingly, Gnadu Goldan is totally fictional. This is a little weird. Were there no valid actual people that could be described here? Also, Sam and Paul go hunting all the time, and at some point in the book, Sam cooks up some animal meat. Obviously you can respect a philosophy without following it, or while following it in your own way, but this is still fairly silly.

Muz says goodbye and lets Paul and Sam know that they'll be notified of the time of their trial. The door is locked, and the windows are covered in force fields. Seems like they're in a spot!

After stewing for awhile, they are escorted to the grand Council Chamber for their trial. There are five members of the "Megan Council" I list them here because lists are fun, and the names/titles are fun too:

  • Dirk, the "Grand Mega"
  • His daughter, Cee, the Minister of Female Affairs
  • Arl, his Chief Adviser
  • General Gax, Chief of the Megan Defense Space Fleet
  • Krell, the Megan Tyne, or Secretary of State

Arl reads off the charges from a scroll of lime-green paper – Paul and Sam are accused of invading the territory of Mega Three in an armed spacecraft for the purpose of committing unlawful acts.

Paul steps forward, calling these claims untrue. He says that he is a representative of the US government and has a message from the President, to the leader of the Megans. This part of the story is confusing to me – why does he have a letter? Did they expect to find another race wherever they were going?

Anyway Dirk reads the letter. It mentions the Space Eagle by name. The Megans make fun of the SWIFT, which is a fairly crude ship by their standards, but when Paul speaks of it proudly, he seems to win some respect. Then he tells them why he is there – that the US needs spartanium, and the only place they know of to get it is at Mega Three. "Mega Three is our last hope, sir, " he said. "The very freedom of Earth depends on your willingness to give me a supply of pure spartanium to take back to our planet."

Dirk breaks the bad news to Paul – the Megan constitution expressly forbids "intersellar transportation of any materials that would contribute to the ability of creatures in other galaxies to make war, kill, or destroy."

Paul tries to explain mutually assured destruction to the Megans – "If our weapons are equal or superior to those of our neighbors in the USSR, then neither side would dare to use them." Dirk isn't really buying it, and calls it "curious logic." But, Paul is convincing, and Dirk says that "I suppose we are unjust to be so impatient and distrusting of your kind." The Council retires to another room to discuss the matter.

Paul and Sam are found innocent of trying to invade Mega Three. Hooray! Unfortunately, their request for spartanium is denied. Darn! But Sam won't stand for that.

Sam Aarons drew himself up to his full height. Much taller and brawnier than Paul, he towered over the small Megan soldiers around him. For the first time since the trial began, he spoke, with the quiet dignity he often assumed.

He relates what is basically a parable about gunpowder, and a time when it was very rare. A village had some gunpowder, along with guns, missiles, etc. They vowed never to actually use the weapons unless they were attacked. A neighboring village asked for help with a band of outlaws, but they refused. Anyway, the bandits utterly destroy the second village, and the first village ends up fighting them anyway. Paul's summay: "Once the Russians begin to produce spartanium in quantity, it will only be a matter of time before their space fleets reach out through space to other galaxies and to planets like Mega Three." The parable has a clear effect on the Megans, and even though they are certain that they could defeat any invasion, they decide they need to rethink their decision.

The Megans offer Paul and Sam an alternate solution to their spartanium needs. Instead of giving them the spartanium, they'll provide them with another element, Xenon, which "produces a catalystic chain reaction that converts the spartanium to a harmless element." They can spray the area of the Soviet mine with Xenon, and it will basically destroy the spartanium. So, neither nation will have any spartanium, although of course Paul will still have his space ship. This seems like a somewhat poor result for Paul and Sam. Admittedly, it will prevent the US and the USSR from starting some sort of huge space war, and it will keep the Russians away from Mega Three. But it seemingly will also make it much harder, or even impossible, for humans to explore space. It's not hard to attach a somewhat Machiavellian motive to the Megan decision here.

But Paul and Sam are happy with this solution, and with a load of Xenon on board, they start their trip back. On the way home, around the orbit of Saturn, they detect a spaceship adrift. Paul decides that he needs to check it out in case it is in trouble. As they get closer, they see that it's a "Chinese Ming Five Superrocket."

Although China and the United States had broken diplomatic relations once again, he did not hesitate. Whatever differences might exist between nations on Earth, they did not extend into space when a ship was in distress.

There's no activity or signs of life on the ship. Paul decides to board it to make sure that no one is sick or dying. They anchor the SWIFT to the ship with magnetic grappling hooks, and put on their space suits for the trip over. They enter the ship.

It's a trap! Paul and Sam are surrounded by three men in black outfits. These are space pirates! They even have a skull and crossbones logo on their black tunics. The pirates get ready to take Paul and Sam to their commander. "I'm anxious to meet your commander," Paul said coldly. "Obviously he is either insanely reckless or dangerously ignorant of the consequences of an act of piracy. Unless he releases us and our ship immediately, he and all of you will feel the full space-policing power of the United States."

They're led to the commander – it's Lachesis Muta, the villain from Operation Doomsday! He's supposed to be dead! IT IS EXTREMELY SHOCKING TO SEE HIM AGAIN!!!

Naturally, Muta had an escape plan, so when Paul nuked his base, he was able to survive. He'd built it to withstand a powerful hydrogen bomb, and he had an underground passage to another lab in a nearby mountain. Muta is very interested in the SWIFT. He has managed to figure out that it can travel beyond the speed of light. Paul is terrified that this means Muta is working with the Russians, but Muta laughs that off. "Don't be ridiculous! Muta works for no one but himself!" However, Muta does have spies in the USSR, and he knows about the spartanium supply problem too. He's even figured out that the only place to get spartanium is Proxima Centauri – from the Megans. Muta is also convinced that Paul and Sam have been to see the Megans, and that the SWIFT is probably full of spartanium. "The man was a genius; Paul had to admit it."

After trying to convince Paul to turn to the dark side, and a brief altercation between Sam and the guards ("remember your temper Sam" Paul chides to prevent a serious fight) Paul and Sam are thrown in a cell.

Muta and his henchmen try to break into the SWIFT, to no avail. Paul thinks glowingly of his sister "That sister of mine is truly amazing." Paul marveled as he watched the heaviest charges deflecting off the sturdy little craft designed by Julie Girard in the Girard Foundation's Top Security Three laboratories. Muta gives up and tries to bargain some more with Paul. Paul tells him that he doesn't actually have any spartanium in the ship – then Muta tries to convince him to raid the Soviet mine. In a fit of rage, Muta gives Paul fifteen minutes to change his mind before vowing to throw him out the airlock.

But then he leaves them alone! Paul quickly pulls out his little radio set from his ear, and uses it to get the SWIFT to fire off its gas-filled missiles. The missiles lock onto Muta's ship and fill it with knockout gas – luckily Paul and Sam still have the helmets for their spacesuits, so they're unaffected. Muta rushes into the cell as the gas fills the ship –

He fell against the bars and glared at them, his wild eyes ablaze with hatred and fury. "You! What have you done to me? … You'll pay for this. I swear it. Lachesis Muta will have his revenge. You -- you..."

But then he falls unconscious. Paul manages to get the keys from Muta's sleeping body, so they can get out of the cell. They head back to the SWIFT and prepare for the trip back to Earth with Muta's ship in tow.

But as they accelerate towards the speed of light, the ship breaks away and disappears! Paul remembers an earlier warning from his sister, about being lost "in the vast uncharted sea of space and time, on some dark edge of the universe. It might even be blown into some unknown universe in another dimension of time."

But the bottom line is that Muta is gone, and Paul still has a mission to complete. Maybe once it's done, "he would come back into space and look for Muta and his space pirates – if the mad doctor was still a part of this universe."

They fly the SWIFT back to Earth, and hover 10,000 miles over the mine until darkness falls. Then, they speed down, seed the clouds of a blizzard over the mine with the Xenon, and that's it! No more spartanium on the planet. They fly home for some well-earned rest.

SO NOW WHAT HAPPENS?

There are brief sections at the end of the book where Paul relates the story to his sister, and also to the President. Both are more worried about Muta than anything else. We flash then to the Soviet mine, where Kerenko (who somehow survived) is telling the commandant of the mine that the spartanium is ruined. Then, Paul is back in Hawaii, enjoying some relaxation in the sun. His friend Jim is annoyed because he doesn't want to go to a rocket-speedboat race. Jim tells Paul that he needs to be careful, or his life is going to get "very dull from now on."

"Dull?" Paul's eyes opened, and he began to laugh softly. "Yes, I suppose I haven't done anything very exciting lately." At that instant there was a soft, buzzing signal inside Paul Girard's right ear.

And that's the end of the book, and the end of the Space Eagle series – is it really a series if there are only two books? I actually find myself wondering what might happen next. I'm sure Muta would come back, and you have to wonder what other aliens might show up at some point. I cannot deny that as awful as these two books were, I would gladly read a third one, and I'm sure it would not be worth reviewing either.

Here's a gallery of the images from the book:

Space Eagle: Operation Star Voyage
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