Dedicated to the memory of K. H. Scheer and Walter Ernsting, who first gave us Perry Rhodan in 1961 and of Forrest J and Wendayne Ackerman, who first brought his adventures to the United States in 1969.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Perry Rhodan #3(a), Galactic Alarm (1969)

By Kurt Mahr (= German issue #5, Atom-Alarm or “Atomic Alarm,” 6 October 1961)

Rhodan and Bell accompany Thora and Khrest to the moon on a mission to try to salvage whatever may have survived the destruction of the Arkonide mother ship. Along the way, they undergo another hypno-training session to basically raise their minds to the level of the Arkonides themselves. Thora tries to use the time they are incommunicado under hypno-training to turn back and force the earth to build she and Khrest a ship, but Khrest risks interrupting Rhodan and Bell's session – which could well have had disastrous results – and they stop her. They are able to complete the training by the time they reach the moon. Obviously they were not going full speed!

During Rhodan and Bell's excursion to the moon, there is a rather lengthy digression following the adventures of Tako Kakuta on earth, where he has been given the mission of arranging deals with industrial firms to obtain various prefabricated parts and equipment that are necessary to get the Third Power's nascent ship-building industry up and going. The major powers have all criminalized any such dealings with the Third Power, and Tako has his most success dealing with a representative of the American trade unions, who assures him that he can get the Third Power anything it needs. The workers believe that Rhodan's goal is worthy and that their government's opposition is wrong – and they want to back what they believe is going to be the winning horse.

On the moon, Rhodan and Bell excavate into the slagged wreckage of the Arkonide cruiser all the way to the intact core of the ship – but Khrest calls them back when Thora discovers to her glee that the destruction of the mother ship set off an automatic distress beacon aimed at the nearest Arkonide base. An Arkonide fleet can be expected to arrive within days. They rush back to the earth, where Rhodan uses an Arkonide battle-suit with its invisibility capacity to penetrate the arctic headquarters of Allan Mercant's International Intelligence Agency. He convinces Mercant of the threat facing the earth. Once the Arkonide robot battle fleet determines that it was an earthly power that destroyed the cruiser, it will make no distinction between earthly powers but will essentially sterilize the planet. Mercant reveals his own two minds about Rhodan – it is his duty to oppose the Third Power although he's personally sympathetic to its goals. Recognizing the threat revealed by Rhodan, he convinces the US President as well as the other major powers to go to a situation of “atomic alarm,” preparing to evacuate primary targets at short notice.

Bell proposes a plan to use the Arkonide auxiliary vessel, which would not be recognized as a threat by the expected fleet, to lure the attacking ships into separating so they can take them on individually. That is their only hope of defeating them in battle. Thora has other plans – having no faith in the Terrans' ability to prevail, she offers as commander of the destroyed cruiser to give asylum to Rhodan and other selected representatives of the earth whom she grudgingly considers worth saving. They can surely be of some service to the Imperium. Rhodan rejects this idea out of hand. He assures her that although human civilization might be destroyed, scattered remnants of the human race will survive and rebuild – he's leaving them the knowledge he has gained through hypnotraining which will greatly speed their recovery – as bitter enemies of the Imperium which they will eventually conquer.

A few days later, an incursion into earth space is detected – not an Arkonide battle fleet but rather a single ship of unknown origin. Khrest believes that this proves that the Arkonide base is no longer part of the Imperium but has rather fallen in the progressing dissolution of the outer reaches of the empire. From the configuration of the ship it is determined that it is indeed from a hostile race known as the Fantan. Rhodan and company take the Arkonide auxiliary ship and surprise the Fantan as they are scanning the wreckage on the moon – and defeat it in battle. As a result of Rhodan's actions, the major earth powers accept that he is acting in the interests of all humankind. They lift the embargo against the Third Power and start allowing parts and equipment to flow to it freely. Rhodan knows that the Fantan ship was just the first threat that humanity now faces.

In the last scene, Thora swears to Rhodan she will no longer oppose his efforts.

Another synopsis may be found at – this time I find that mine is actually the fuller summary of the two.


The President of the United States in 1970 is, according to this story written in 1961, named “Nyson.” Wow.

The English title is not a translation of the German title. They have different meanings, referring to different aspects of the story. “Atomic Alarm” I take to refer to the placing of all earth's power blocs' defenses on highest alert, as is done in the story. “Galactic Alarm,” on the other hand, I take to refer to the distress call that went out upon the destruction of the Arkonide cruiser at the end of #2(a), The Radiant Dome, revealing the presence of the earth to the galaxy at large. I'm not sure which one I feel to be a better title.

Why does the fact that the Arkonide cruiser is sending out an automatic distress call come as a surprise? Thora was indeed obviously expecting it – she was actually searching for it. But the sense I get is that they all, Rhodan and Bell at least once they received the hypnotraining, knew that such an automatic distress signal was standard procedure. Why was that not Khrest, Rhodan, and Bell's purpose in going to the moon, to confirm whether or not such a signal actually went out? I get that, it being a directional signal, they had to be in the vicinity, perhaps in its line-of-sight toward its target star, to detect it and would therefore not have been able to detect it from earth, but that would seem to have been of much higher priority than a salvage operation – particularly given the frenzy into which it sends them … Rhodan, Bell, and Khrest, at least. Thora is tickled pink. The monkeys are about to be put in their place.

Oh, come on – Thora – fainting? Twice? - first, when her plan to hijack the auxiliary ship and use its power to force humanity to do her will fails, then upon discovering that the expected Arkonide rescue fleet is not coming. I guess the idea of a female starship captain was pretty far-fetched in the 1960s. See my previous post. To return to the other examples I cited there, although Honor Harrington or Kathryn Janeway would never swoon, the Romulan commander did, if I recall correctly, end up being thwarted by her own emotions. Of course, this work, as are all writings, is a product of its time.

In that light, the conclusion of the exchange between Rhodan and Thora is worth quoting:

"Here on Earth we know of many cases like yours. Young girls that have been brought up in a sheltered, wealthy environment and who one day find out, to their utmost horror, that the majority of mankind lives in poverty and must struggle for sheer survival.

"You are not at all different from these young girls in your attitude. You feel compelled to despise us for the simple fact that we are a younger race than your own.

"The day that you come to me and tell me how foolishly you have behaved during the past weeks, I will confess how much I am in love with you, Thora!" (p. 80)


Allan Mercant faces the same dilemma confronting any person in service to a state when their own personal beliefs differ from the policies and goals of the state. I wonder how this will ultimately be resolved?

In the past couple of days I discovered and joined the Yahoo Group “perryrhodan2 – Perry Rhodan – A place for English language Perry Rhodan fans”: . I've been having a lot of fun just skimming through about a decade's worth of postings. One thing it has are summaries of what I presume to be the current German issues – the most recent posted, yesterday, is listed as “2520 Border Crosser of the Veil.” Man, I'm jealous of those who can read the German originals!

Cheers – and Ad Astra!


  1. What is surprising in these early Rhodans is now they are not nationalistic. Each bloc is given fair and equal treatment. None are really painted as the bad guys.

    The fact that Perry disobeys orders and decides that the US shouldn't have sole control over the advanced technology, certainly would have been considered unpatriotic during the cold war.

    I agree the writers seem a bit confused about how to deal with Thora. We know, that she and Perry HAVE to fall in love. But they can't seem to make up their mind if she's a witch or an angel.