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.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Perry Rhodan #5(b), Mutants in Action (1970)

By Kurt Mahr (= German issue #11, 17 November 1961)

After flying the crippled Good Hope to a remote desert base on Rofus as directed by the Ferron ruler, the Thort, where the ship can be better hidden away, Perry Rhodan finds that he has furthermore been given command of that base! He meets with the Ferron commander Hopthman and outlines his plan to use matter transmitters to invade Ferrol itself and capture the Arkonide battleship. It is known that there is a transmitter in the Red Palace on Ferrol that has gone undiscovered by the invading Topides, but it is not properly attuned to any transmitter to which they have access therefore cannot be currently used. The logistics are eased when a resistance movement on Ferrol, the Sicha mountain-people, manage to transmit a message cylinder to Rofus, letting their presence be known and requesting aid and direction. Rhodan dispatches Klein and Derringhous piloting the two Arkonide fighters on a reconnaissance and harassment mission against to Topides on Ferrol. Unfortunately they find that the Arkonide battleship, berthed at the Ferron capital Thorta's spaceport, has better tracking and fire control than they believed when it manages to score a glancing hit on Derringhouse's fighter. As he himself ejects, Derringhouse orders Klein to get back to Rhodan with their reconnaissance.

There follow parallel story-lines. Using Klein's reconnaissance, Rhodan finalizes his plans. He and his mutants plus a force of about thirty of the Good Hope's crew and 45 Arkonide fighter-robots pass through the matter transmitter to the Sicha hideout and make contact with Kekeler, leader of the Sicha resistance. They concoct a plan to move from Sic-Horum, the Sichas' capital, to Thorta. Meanwhile, Derringhouse, although hampered somewhat by Ferrol's forty percent higher gravity than earth's (which Rhodan and his men are able to ameliorate using Arkonide travel suits), makes his way toward the Ferron town nearest his landing site in a forested area. He manages to passably disguise himself by means of evenly applied “blueberry” juice-stains on his skin plus native clothing “borrowed” from a lone native (who will unfortunately wake up naked). In the town, Derringhouse first encounters an old Ferron man who directs him to a tavern, emphasizing that he should tell his son, the tavern-keeper, that Perk'la sent him. That son, Teel, accepts and feeds “Deri,” then takes him into a back room – where he is greeted by a small force of Ferrons with weapons drawn. Derringhouse identifies himself to Teel and his men as an Arkonide, from the sphere that had appeared and given aid to the Ferron defenders but then suffered damage and an emergency landing on Rofus. Teel and his group are an independent resistance movement. Derringhouse starts to work with them.

Not knowing of each others' activities, Rhodan and Derringhouse both end up working their way toward Thorta over a period of a couple of weeks, as Klein continues his strafing harassment of the Topides. This latter, unfortunately, provokes reprisals in the form of bombardments of Ferron cities on Rofus, disheartening the Thort. Rhodan manages to steal a matter transmitter from a Ferron post office (!) and sends Tako Kakuta into the Red Palace where the Topides have established their own headquarters to tune the secret transmitter there to the correct frequency to link the two. Working along similar lines, Derringhouse penetrates the Red Palace, hoping to use the transmitter to call in help from the desert fortress on Rofus. He and Tako end up discovering each other.

Knowledge of Teel's independent resistance group simplifies Rhodan's plans and allows him to consolidate his own forces for the capture of the battleship rather than dividing them to provide a diversion. Using the various mutants' abilities for scouting and diversion, Rhodan captures the Topide commander Chrekt-Orn and influences him by means of the psychoradiator to have the battleship moved to a berth on the edge of the spaceport and emptied of crew so new weapons can be installed. Unfortunately, Chrekt-Orn's own subordinates question his actions – very much against the basic Topide mentality – and the plan is almost scuttled. Rhodan and his force do manage to take the ship, but he is forced to abandon his intention of taking Chrekt-Orn as a prisoner. On the other hand, he does capture a squad of Topide guards sent back aboard the battleship at the last minute. The matter transmitter is quickly installed on the captured ship and Rhodan brings his full (albeit spare in numbers for a battleship crew) complement of men and robots through from Rofus. Just in time, as Chrekt-Orn's subordinate orders a full-scale attack on the battleship – to destroy it rather than let it be lost – it lifts off.

To Thora's astonishment, Rhodan does not make a break for interstellar space but rather heads to Rofus, to relieve the bombardment of their new allies there. He makes a risky hyperjump directly from Ferrol to Rofus orbit, returning to the refuge of the desert base. There, Rhodan lays out his plan to the Thort. He knows that, with the loss of their primary super-weapon, the Topides will be forced to an all-out attack. He plans to use the Arkonide battleship to inflict such losses on the Topides that they will take some time to recover – time that will allow him to return to earth to fill out a full crew. He also lays out a strategy for winning the war that requires deploying batteries of new transmitter stations in such numbers that the Ferrons cannot manufacture enough. To meet that need, he wheedles out of the Thort full technical data and schematics so that the Arkonide-based automated manufacturing plants of the Third Power can build them as quickly as necessary. The Thort reluctantly agrees to giving up this state secret to Rhodan. When the Topide attack comes, Rhodan and Bell employ what the latter calls “a game of hyperspace leap-frog” (p. 186) to keep the enemy from concentrating their own fire on the Arkonide battleship, which systematically decimates them with disintegrator fire. It is a total rout.

On the way out of the Vega system, Rhodan detours to Iridul, a moon of the twenty-eighth planet, where he deposits a secret base with supplies and equipment for future use. Interrogation of the Topide prisoners confirms what Rhodan had suspected, that the Topides had come to Vega in the belief that here was the source of the Arkonide distress signal, therefore a planet capable of taking out an Arkonide cruiser. Earth was saved from discovery – this time – by a simple error of calculation. As they jump for earth, “Bell mutter[s] to himself, 'It's too beautiful a region to leave to the lizards. We'll be coming back!'” (p. 189)

Another synopsis may be found at


The original German issue appeared the day before I did. I was born on Saturday 18 November 1961. And every Friday thereafter (I presume – the math seems to work out), down to today (I'm actually writing this on Friday 4 March 2011), there has been a new Perry Rhodan adventure. That is mind-boggling. And I guess, if nothing else, it means I could always know how many weeks old I am! The current issue is #2585, minus ten previous issues equals 2,575 weeks. Wow. (Interestingly, the official website from which I'm getting the original publication dates currently is in error as to today's date, listing it as “Fr., 3. März 2011” - .)

Apparently my impression that a ship must accelerate to near light speed to jump and cannot jump to or from near a planetary body or BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN is mistaken, at least to a degree. Or the authors are already engaging in the time-honored tradition of breaking their own “rules” for story-telling purposes. Whichever, Rhodan hyperjumps basically from orbit around Ferrol to orbit around Rofus – a stunt which does admittedly make Khrest break out in a sweat and which he calls “reckless” (p. 178).

I love it! - the Arkonides are basically described as human-appearing although having somewhat albinoid characteristics. Now we find that the Ferrons are near enough to human appearance that Derringhouse can basically just stain his skin blue with “blueberry juice” and pass for a native! I'm reminded of an issue of the old Legion of Super-Heroes in Adventure Comics (#369, June 1968), where the blue-skinned Shadow Lass is hiding out in Smallville, disguised as a human by simply applying (human) flesh-colored cosmetics. The game is almost up when some smears off her arm – alerting the other students that something's not quite kosher with their new classmate. But quick thinking on Clark's part squirts blue ink from his old-style fountain pen on the face of one of the students, allaying their suspicions! Of course, in the Perry Rhodan universe these humanoid aliens are basically the good guys (at least so far as we've seen) – not so the “wasp-men” Mind Snatchers, the “lizard” Topides, or the whatever-the-hell-they-are Fantan!

Interestingly, the Ferron have technical information and schematics as well as the ability to manufacture matter transmitters although the science upon which they are based is far beyond their own technological level – based on their “inherent” inability to comprehend “fifth-dimensional math” it would seem beyond their very comprehension. The matter transmitter technology itself is beyond even the Arkonides' development. I guess given the proper plans they could duplicate the machine itself without understanding it. But where did it come from in the first place? I'm sure we'll find out sooner rather than later – probably sooner, given Khrest's conviction in the previous story that it comes from the same race as his planet of eternal life, which it seems to me will be found fairly soon in the series. They are making too much of it, and Khrest was furthermore already convinced it is in the Vega system. Note that the title of Ace #13 is The Immortal Unknown. Anyway, now earth has access to this technology that even the Arkonides lack. Thora has to admire Rhodan's ability to do the seeming impossible even as it alarms her: “One of these days you're going to convince me that you could become dangerous to Arkon itself – in which case I'll probably put some hemlock in your wine!” (p. 183). Aw yeah, she's falling for him!

Cheers, and Ad Astra!


  1. Great summary Kent! Keep it up! It's been a long time since I have re read this one. I'm on #100 right now! theironpup

  2. Thanks... I intend to keep going, right through to the end of the translations, but the frequency is going to drop a bit. Particularly right now, I'm having to deal with some elderly parent (and grandparent) issues that have got me (and my brother) totally turned around backwards. - The Prof