The development of e-books, electronic texts for reading on your computer or handheld PDA, has opened up the possibility of rebirth for a number of out of print authors. The late Kenneth Bulmer wrote regular science fiction but, as Akers, he produced what was probably the best pastiche of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian novels that anyone ever wrote. His Dray Prescot series totalled some 53 books by the time he died. Only the first 37 were published in English; the rest appeared in German editions. This is out of Bulmer’s total output of some 160 novels, issued under nearly two dozen pen names other than his own.
Prescot is a sailor in Nelson’s navy who ends up translated many light years away to the planet Kregen, which is in the solar system of the constellation of Scorpio. Like Burrough’s John Carter, he is a natural warrior with a strong moral code who rises to prominence on his adopted world, finds true love and has many adventures. From time to time he is pulled back to Earth and has to find new ways to get back to Kregen. it appears he is being manipulated by a group of higher beings known as the Star Lords, who translate him to Kregen when they need him and send him home when his work is done, all the time maintaining his youth and vitality.
I had forgotten all about these books until they turned up as a special offer from a couple of on-line e-book sellers. Mushroom eBooks apparently plans to reissue the whole series, a task made easier by the relatively small inventory space needed by electronic publishers, who can essentially make books available on demand. I don’t think I will want to read them all, but the first five books make up the initial cycle of the series, and that might be fun, as I had previously only read one or two books from much later in the set.
Interestingly the main star in the Kregen sky is Antares, which means “not Mars” (Ares being another name for Mars, the god of war), a clear signal from Bulmer that he both was and wasn’t copying Burroughs’ John Carter novels.