Rip Foster in Ride the Gray Planet by Blake Savage

Rip Foster in Ride the Gray PlanetRip Foster in Ride the Gray Planet by Blake Savage

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s a story that goes with this story… I got this book at a school book fair some 48 years ago when I was 10. Many years later (~43) I was Nostalgically Re-reading some of my childhood books and tried to remember the title of this one, to no avail. I even posted in the Goodreads group What’s the Name of that Book, with as much as I could remember: I thought it was a “Scholastic paperback edition of a juvenile science fiction most likely from the 1960s, possibly early 1970s. The plot revolved around two rival (Cold war similar) space powers that were trying to claim a metallic asteroid and bring it back to Earth. I seem to remember one of the powers being “The Confederation” or something similar. A main character was probably a young adult/teen male. Something happened that required the two enemies to work together. Reluctant friendship ensued. Moral lesson/political melodrama imparted on the young readers.” Sadly, no one could help and I tried different search terms of the years with nothing to show. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was reading The Disappearing Spoon, a wonderful book about the periodic table and when the author talked about thorium…ding!…quick check and…voila! Found! But…I had to search for different covers to confirm with my memory and this is the one. Internet order to the rescue and nostalgic re-read checked off!

This was high adventure for a ten year old in 1971! And the actual science was pretty good, which is to be expected because Hal Goodwin wrote it (and the Rick Brant series as John Blaine). The science fiction was pulpish (Venusian silicon armadillos, Martians and even Mercurian creatures). The world outlook was rather forward thinking to cooperation beyond our time with multinationals in the space fleet, and also contemporary with a Cold War-like adversary. And, given that it was published in 1952 for one assumes to be a boy audience, there is the period sexism – one character piloting a (space) boat “balanced the opposite thrusts ” with “the delicacy of a woman threading a needle.” As to some of the science, either Goodwin/Savage was visionary- his clear bubble helmets could be darkened electronically (electrochromic devices were still relatively theoretical in 1953)

Okay, so my fuzzy memory wasn’t quite right – there was no cooperation (maybe there’s another book hidden away in my memory closet), Rip Foster was a young adult, and it was a Golden Griffon paperback, but five stars for high adventure!

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