I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
3 out of 5 stars.
Runaway Vortex! A churning nuclear fireball, appearing out of nowhere, bringing utter destruction--and countless numbers of them were menacing planets throughout the Galaxy!
"Storm" Cloud, nucleonic genius, set out in his spaceship Vortex Blaster to track and destroy the mysterious vortices--and embarked on a saga of adventure, discovery and conflict among the far stars that could have been told only by the incomparable "Doc" Smith.
Nice to read a novel set in the Lensmen universe, but not starring one of the Lensmen (although they still feature prominently in this tale). It was also interesting to note that computers make their first appearance in the series and that absolutely no one uses a slide rule in this book. In fact, Dr. Cloud is a human computing machine, performing feats of calculation unmatched by other mortals. He is partnered with Joan Jankowski because of her expertise with computers, which are improving but are still no match for Cloud’s brain.
In many ways, this book felt like an episode of Star Trek (TOS). There are telepathy, super-human abilities, a cast which includes many interesting aliens, a mysterious source of “nuclear vortices,” a Dudley-DoRight type main character and a romantic sub-plot. Dr. Neal Cloud starts out more like the Lone Ranger (with Joan as Tonto), but ends up with a band of aliens (largely female) who refuse to leave his side. I loved the cat-woman, Vesta, and her unabashedly sensual ways! Also loved the cigar-smoking female engineer (I pictured her as rather reptilian).
Of course, Neal and Joan end up being strongly attracted to one another. I do love Smith’s insistence on providing intelligent female companions for his heroes. Mind you, when Cloud manages to become a telepath, he rates 6 on a scale of 5 and is acknowledged by all for his superiority! (Poor old Joan is only rated a 3). No ordinary heroes with average abilities for Doc Smith. He manages to convey a lot of romantic atmosphere with very little description, no doubt necessary for the morays of the time (published in 1960).
This is book number 154 of my science fiction and fantasy reading project.