The Flash Gordon Series (1980–81)
When I read these books for the first time, I was spellbound. On re-reading them now, some twenty years later, I can see that they are in fact quite unremarkable, but I'm still surprised how they seem to have sunk into oblivion without a trace. Authored anonymously, these are the new adventures of Flash Gordon. There is actually very, very little that ties this series to Alex Raymond's original comic strip and its various spin-off novelizations, movies, etc. The three protagonists are still Flash Gordon, Dr. Zarkov, and Dale Arden. Brawn, brain, and beauty. But beyond this basic template the similarities are few and far between.
Robert "Flash" Gordon is a colonel in the intelligence devision of the military of the Terran Federation of Planets, humanity's small interstellar empire in the 24th century. Hans Zarkov is a brilliant researcher, an old man, a pacifist, and not at all the mad scientist type. His niece Dale Arden is a computer psychologist. When mankind's first interstellar exploration ship, presumed lost for 150 years, returns under mysterious circumstances, the three are sent to investigate and are rapidly drawn into an incredible adventure of galactic scope.
These are six volumes of pure space opera. There are planet-sized computers, civilizations perished for millennia, war-crazy machines and peoples, space battles, ultimate weapons, you name it. It is the 1980s equivalent of a pulp story. The writing itself is adequate, character development is limited to Flash having to come to terms with the long past death of his wife and Dale Arden's love for him.
An unsophisticated, television-level adventure yarn.
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