Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
I wonder if I would have burned out on it had the Ackerman's
continued. I always thought of Vlotz as "the guy who writes the
really strange ones" and I undestand he eventually became show-runner.
Voltz. Ernst Vlcek was the one with the how-do-you-pronounce-that
I think the Ackerman translations only covered what I think of as
the dire early days. Remember, the series was initially expected
to run for maybe 30 installments. The writers didn't exactly think
far ahead. The series really got going starting with #200 when
stretches of 50 or 100 installments were planned out and the writers
hit on a winning formula already used by Doc Smith to great success:
Have you protagonists fight through layer after layer of enemies
until they encounter the unknown big bad. #200..299 exemplified
that with Perry Rhodan going to Andromeda and running into the
Masters of the Isle, who ruled that galaxy with an iron fist,
genocide being their standard measure to instill obedience. The
MoI were so charismatic that they kept being referenced long after
their demise and would occasionally still appear from beyond the
That approach was repeated with diminishing returns for #300..399
and #400..499 and then the ride became really bumpy. I forgot the
behind-the-scenes details, if they were ever made public, but I
think William Voltz had to take over the series in an emergency,
it was this >< close to getting canceled. He took a while to get
his footing and then greatly remade the series. His first, drawn-out
step was to get rid of the Solar Empire. Instead of ever new waves
of invading baddies, Voltz took the series in a new direction,
infused it with a sense of mysticism and cosmic secrets.
For a while things became very, very big. Where previously the
history from 50,000 or 200,000 years ago had weighed on the present,
suddenly we were talking about events from millions of years ago.
You think the Ringworld is big? There was an extra-universal
construct, a flat world one light year in diameter. Now that's a
lot of territory to cross. Fittingly the long-gone builders were
only known as the Space Time Engineers. You think a mere
superintelligence like IT is a powerful being? Just a minor player
in the game between Cosmocrats and Chaotarchs. Weird entities
appeared. The Seven Mighty Ones, whose task was to seed the universe
with life and intelligence. Laire, the robot whose eye was the key
to the realm beyond the Well of Matter. Somewhat memorably, there
was Si Kitu, the Guardian/Embodiment of the Second Law of Thermodynamics,
who took the form of, well, a slutty woman, and who promiscuously
sided with whoever would preserve her law. In what became an ironic
pattern, everybody who had served the Cosmocrats as the nominal
forces of good tended to suffer a poor fate as a person or species.
Not everything worked. The Cosmocrats sent Perry Rhodan on a quest
to find the answers to the Three Ultimate Questions, which in the
end proved extremely underwhelming, and the writers tripped over
their own convoluted continuity, so it turned out that the Cosmocrats
had to have known the answers to the first two questions all along.
Voltz of course died far too early at the age of 46. His successors
dialed things back to more manageable, merely galactic sizes.
I eventually gave up on the series somewhere around #1800 or so.
The highs of the series were very high indeed, and the sheer size
of the accumulated mythology--as far as anybody could still remember
it, anyway--and the deep callbacks were amazing, but the _average_
installment was... poor... if you were used to the writing standards
of Anglo-American SF.
Christian "naddy" Weisgerber ***@mips.inka.de