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.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Perry Rhodan #12, The Rebels of Tuglan (1972)

By Clark Darlton (= German issue #18, Friday 5 January 1962)

Chap. 1, “Of Rebels...”

On the planet Vagabond, a mousebeaver whose mutant intelligence outstrips that of its fellows and does not fade at night stows away on the Stardust II just before lift-off – and begins to “play” just as the ship begins its transition toward Vega.

Thousands of light-years away, the planet Tuglan, eleventh of the blue-giant star Laton, has been an outlying colony of the Arkonide Imperium for six millennia, though visited but seldom. Unbenownst to either race, the reddish-blue-skinned, violet-haired Tuglanians are descended from Arkonide explorers of six thousand years before that. The ruling Lord Alban of Tuglan plots to overthrow the resident Arkonide High Commissioner Rathon, who is typically degenerate and ill with leukemia. Alban is opposed by his brother Daros, who goes so far as to attempt to warn Rathon. His warnings appear to fall on deaf ears, but Rathon does covertly entrust a loyal Tuglanian with an investigative mission.

Chap. 2, “... and Robots”

One night, two Tuglanians are killed while sabotaging the sole Arkonide hyperwave broadcast installation on the outskirts of the capital city, Tugla, but not before they put it out of operation. Before the station goes down, however, the robots who tend it detect a brief hail from an Arkonide battleship that has just appeared in the system. Rathon reports these events to Alban, who sees his plans for Tuglanian independence crashing down around him.

Chap. 3, “The 'Impossible' Stowaway”

Aboard the Stardust II, Perry Rhodan immediately perceives that the transition to Vega has gone wrong. He eliminates the possibility that the telekinetic mutants had shifted the controls. Khrest recognizes the star near which they have appeared as Laton, 36,000 light-years from Vega. The galley reports a stowaway – when Rhodan and Reginald Bell arrive they find the mousebeaver calmly munching away on frozen fruit. When Bell angrily grabs it by the scruff of its neck, he is sent floating to the ceiling and dumped in an unused kettle of water, to the great amusement of his companions. Rhodan dispatches the dripping and discomfited Bell to change and retrieve the telepath John Marshall. Despite himself, Rhodan has already conceived an affection for the “beast” and even thinks of it as “he” rather than “it.” Marshall quickly establishes that this mousebeaver is quite intelligent, with “the makings of an excellent esper” (p. 49). Communication established, Rhodan forbids the mousebeaver, dubbed “Emby,” from further “play” aboard his ship. Nevertheless, within a short time, through a misunderstanding, Emby activates the hyperwave transmitter and gives away the Stardust's presence in the system. Rhodan decides to disguise the humans as Arkonides by means of makeup, white hair dye, and red contact lenses, and to approach Tuglan purporting to be an imperial inspection team.

Chap. 4, “Treachery on Tuglan”

Alban believes that the Arkonide ship is coming to investigate rumors of a revolution. He brazenly outlines his plan to Daros – that he intends to pin the sabotage and rebellion on his brother. Daros realizes that he has no proof against his brother's perfidy.

Entering orbit around Tuglan, Rhodan establishes contact with Alban – and goes along with the Tuglanian's misperception. To enable a telepath to accompany him in dealing with the Tuglanians, he has Marshall hypnotrained in Pankosmo, the galactic lingua franca. Emby is also hypnotrained to allow him to communicate with the humans: “'Teska vyt, jenmen.' And in English [the mousebeaver] translated: 'Good evening, gentlemen. I've also mastered the provincial language'” (p. 60). The Stardust lands at the spaceport outside Tugla.

Chap. 5, “Plots & Counterplots”

Rathon shows the “Arkonides” the destroyed hyperwave installation and reports the conflicting claims of Alban and Daros, as well as his own undercover operative – but when they establish a link to monitor Alban's agent in the palace, they remotely witness his death.

Daros leaves the palace unopposed but realizes that he is under surveillance. Then he finds himself being hailed by a mob of citizens - “Daros! Long live Lord Daros and the freedom of Tuglan! … Down with Lord Alban and his friends the Arkonides! Long live our liberator Daros!” (p. 68). Daros is both bewildered and horrified by this.

Rhodan meets with Alban, who professes disbelief at any notion that his brother could be the perpetrator of a plot against the Arkonides – and Daros plays right into his hands by barging in and accusing Alban publicly. Alban plays a recording of the citizens hailing Daros, and admits that he had been covering for him. Rhodan arrests Daros in the name of Arkon – then as they proceed back to the spaceport they are ambushed by a group of Tuglanians who purport to be freeing Daros. Rhodan and Bell do not resist and are taken prisoner; Rhodan perceives that Daros is as mystified by these developments as are himself and Bell, and he begins to suspect that this is all a show for the Arkonides' benefit. As he predicts, Bell is shortly taken from their place of captivity on a winding trip through the streets of the city – only to be “rescued” by agents of Alban. “[H]ow else will the Arkonides find out that Daros was liberated by his political friends?” Rhodan had predicted (p. 77). In meeting with Alban, Bell himself becomes sure that Alban is the real mastermind of the whole affair. He returns to the Stardust, determined to bring in Marshall to clarify things. He also realizes that Emby is no longer aboard the space sphere.

Chap. 6, “The Mind Reader's Revelation”

“Several things happened simultaneously.” Khrest and Rathon take Marshall to the palace and request audience with Alban. Bell and the “seer” Wuriu Sengu search the city for Rhodan to no avail. Rhodan is transferred to a cell elsewhere in the city from where he had been held. Unbenownst to him, Daros is moved nearby. “Only the fifth event had not been planned for” (p. 83). Emby has left the Stardust to “play” in the streets of Tugla – where he wreaks the predictable havoc. When he is accosted by one of Alban's police, he kills him, whereupon the rebels believe he must be on their side and join up with him, taking him to the rebel leader Karolan. The mousebeaver learns of his new friend Rhodan's plight.

Bell abandons the futile search for Rhodan, but is refused entrance to the palace supposedly on the orders of Khrest. Bell is immediately suspicious. In the meeting between Khrest, Rathon, and Alban, Marshall had quickly perceived the truth. But contrary to the Khrest's expectation the Tuglanian does not submit to the Arkonides' authority when confronted with the truth. He rather has Khrest, Rathon, and Marshall seized and imprisoned with Rhodan – beneath the palace.

Chap. 7, “The Floating Bomb”

Sengu locates Rhodan and the others, including one Bell presumes must be Daros in an adjacent cell. Bell and Sengu escape from the palace back to the Stardust. Bell selects several mutants, including Fellmer Lloyd, to accompany himself and Sengu in an armored tank while Major Derringhouse launches with a force of space-fighters. Unexpectedly, as they approach the palace, the Tuglanian people cheer them on: Lloyd feels their mood and reports, “[T]hey see us as allies. Their preponderant mood is one of hatred and fury,k but not toward us. They're filled with rebellious emotions. All are thinking of Lord Alban, spitefully and maliciously. They want to storm the palace and they believe we've come to help them.” Bell concludes, “The Tuglanians want to restore order. Our coming inspired them with the necessary courage. … They seem, therefore, to have always known that it was Alban and not Daros who wanted to rid them of the Arkonide empire” (p. 104). Sengu searches for the location of Alban.

Meanwile, Karolan, along with Emby, also approaches the palace. The Tuglanian has the mousebeaver telekinetically float a bomb across the gate where it blows a yawning gap though which the rebels pour. Emby sets out in search of Rhodan.

Chap. 8, “The Death of...”

In desperation, Alban announces over loudspeaker that unless the Arkonide attackers back off he will kill Rhodan and Khrest, and heads for the cells to make good his threat. Sengu guides Bell as he races toward that location. Alban arrives first. Rhodan stalls for time as Marshall detects Emby also approaching – then is rewarded when the mousebeaver unleashes his telekinetic force on the Tuglanian. He raises Alban's gun, carrying the Lord of Tuglan with it to the ceiling from which he falls. Although it is not a great height, the way he hits is instantly fatal. When Bell shows up, he is discomfited that that “damned Mickey Mouse” beat him to the rescue (p. 113). They free Daros and install him as the new Lord of Tuglan.

The Stardust leaves Tuglan and heads out toward its interrupted hyperspatial transition to Vega. Rhodan and his companions ponder whether these events might have indeed been another part of the Galactic Riddle. As reward for his part in the resolution of the abortive Tuglanian rebellion – and saving Rhodan – Emby is made a member of Rhodan's crew. He also gains a new name, “Pucky,” bestowed upon him by “a young crewman from Independence, Missouri …. 'Shades of Shakespeare,' Phillip Callen began, 'If Emby doesn't have the personality of Puck! … Puck – from Midsummer Night's Dream. … Pucky!'” “[A] name destined to become famous throughout far expanses of the space-time continuum” (pp. 117-118).

* * *

Once again I know of no Gray Morrow cover for the American edition. I am in possession of the second printing which is the same cover as above, from the German issue … #19. Oops. It seems that in the American publication the Johnny Bruck covers for this story and the next were transposed. Which is a pity, considering that these two covers seem each to have been a bit more appropriate to their subject matter than usual. Had the correct covers been used, we could have also had an illustration of an Arkonide tank, complete with the “spiral-shaped barrel of its pulse-ray cannon” (p. 103). And next issue could have had the more iconic image of Perry Rhodan, I presume finally in the presence of The Immortal Unknown. I do notice we have a somewhat accurate-looking image of an Arkonide space sphere, complete with the equatorial bulge or ring, on the present cover.

Remaining on art for a second – sans Gray Morrow cover, this issue nonetheless had Gray Morrow interior art. Here are the illustrations:

page 15
page 36
page 45
page 81
page 116
Unfortunately, it's not Morrow's best work, in my humble opinion not of the same quality as his cover paintings. And most of the images are not readily identifiable as particular characters or objects. Even the one woman, appearing twice, who must be Thora, doesn't look like what I take to be Thora on his various painted covers. 

Original painting for Ace Perry Rhodan #70

 What other woman is there besides a couple of the mutants?

The dedication of the American edition was to the memory of “E. Everett Evans, Galactic Roamer” (p. [4]). Here's the Wikipedia entry, short enough just to quote in full: “Edward Everett Evans (1893-1958) was an American science fiction author and fan. His works included the novels Man of Many Minds (1953), The Planet Mappers (1955), Alien Minds (1955), and the posthumously-published collaboration with E. E. "Doc" Smith Masters of Space (1976); and the collection Food for Demons (1971). A free eBook version of Man of Many Minds is available.”

The editorial “From the Captain of the Stardust 4E: Sci-Fi Knowledge Comes to College” notes the change from forty years previous when science fiction was “academically put down” to ca. 1970 when “courses are eagerly taken up in high schools, sought and taught in colleges across the country” (p. 7).

Note: According to Mark Golden's synopsis of this German issue linked above, this was not the original editorial for the American edition. There was a “lost” editorial which announced the winner of the #9, Quest Through Time and Space's “Rename Gucky” contest. Consequently the winner was never formally announced, although Golden reports that Forrest J Ackerman was said to have later mentioned the name of the winner as one Phillip Callen, presumably of Independence, Missouri, who thus found himself immortalized as a “Spaceman First Class” member of Rhodan's crew in this issue.

Golden also notes that the final scene in which “Emby” is renamed “Pucky” is itself written by Ackerman. In the German original, according to the German synopsis at the Perrypedia website, pretty much immediately after discovering the mousebeaver aboard his ship “Rhodan gibt ihm aufgrund seiner treuherzig blickenden Augen den Namen 'Gucky',” which a little massaging of the Google Chrome web-page translator seems to render as “Rhodan gives him the name 'Gucky' because of his ingenuous-looking eyes.” According to, Gucker can mean “eyes.” Perhaps someone more knowledgeable in German than myself can explain...? (After using the name “Emby” throughout the book, in the final scene Ackerman felt it necessary to explain that word's derivation. Do I really need to? Hint – it's typically Forry.)  I have wondered from time to time why the Ackermans didn't just rename Gucky as "Mickey," after Mickey Mouse.  Bell refers to him as such at one point (possibly added in translation? I don't know).  Maybe it was that a one-time use of The Mouse's name might fly as a cultural allusion, legally speaking, but formally renaming a continuing character with that name would not.  Even ca. 1970, nobody messed with The Mouse.

Scientifilm World” celebrates “one of those rarities, the outstanding picture of a believable tomorrow or the decade after or the century after” - Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971). “Unfortunately for a number of you readers, you'll have to wait till sometime between 1975 & 1980, depending on your present age, because this is an 'X' film and not for nadsats under 18. (Nadsat is one of the many strange made-up words in the picture and means teenage ...)” (p. 121).

And of course there was “The Perryscope” letters column.

* * *

And so the German Perry Rhodan series entered its second calendar year of publication. I don't have a whole lot of story commentary this time.

Only Rhodan and Khrest are in the Stardust's Command Center during the transition at the beginning of the story. This is contrary to my own conception of a typically “busy” starship bridge, formed of course by Star Trek, which I must now envision more like sparse, even low-budget sci-fi sets – even (horror) Mission Stardust.

I was struck by Rhodan's slowness in reading the situation on Tuglan. He seems to have a preconceived notion that the people under Arkonide rule must long for freedom and that the rulers are Arkonide puppets. In this case, not so. The ruler is himself the rebel while the “rebels” turn out to be loyal to Arkon. I'm not sure if this is followed up in other instances in the series. But one reason I found this story a bit difficult to summarize was that, as the fifth chapter is entitled, “plots and counterplots” abound. Lord Alban plots against the Arkonides but ultimately framing the rebels; the rebels are in reality plotting against Alban; Daros is kind of caught in the middle.

If telepath John Marshall was hypnotrained to allow him to accompany Rhodan in dealings with the Tuglanians, why is he not there in their meetings from the beginning? Rhodan would then have seen through the plots from the beginning … and we would have had a much shorter story! That's the problem with too powerful characters – the author has to contrive ways to keep them from solving problems too quickly, or just ignore them until it's narratively convenient to bring them in.

Here's the description of the Arkonide robots manning the hyperwave station on Tuglan: “The three robots represented a top product of Arkonide electronics. They were equipped with mechanically working memory storage banks and were powered by a never-failing atomic battery. Their external appearance was that of a typical Arkonide, except for their metallic skin which gave away that they were nothing but machines” (p. 25). Typically, however, robots are depicted as more “robotic” on various cover illustrations, both German and American:

I'm not sure what “mechanically working memory storage banks” are, but apparently not the same as the positronic brain such as at the core of the Stardust as well as, at least I presumed, the robot “Markon” in #9, Quest Through Time and Space.

On p. 57, Pankosmo is identified as “the Esperanto of [the Arkonide] empire.” Forrest J Ackerman was a great proponent of the artificial language Esperanto; at least at one time, there existed “Ackerman's personal page about Esperanto” (per the Wikipedia article on FJA, note 7, which gives a link that on the date of this blog entry is currently dead). On a whim, considering that there is something of a tradition of using Esperanto when one wants to represent a foreign language without going to the trouble of developing a consistent foreign language (Wikipedia, “Esperanto in Popular Culture”), I tried translating the short sample we are given here. It's not Esperanto, however. I do like how Emby/Pucky refers to English as “the provincial language”!

Tuglanian “cars” are interesting, described as having “two wheels and a gravity gyroscope” (p. 64). Sounds kind of like a scaled-up Segway/GM PUMA:

That looks like fun!  Cheers and Ad Astra!

(Okay, I thought I didn't have a lot of commentary this time....)

* * *

Sentimental note:  This was one of my original copies of a Perry Rhodan book, purchased way back in the 1970s.  (Remember, I have been filling in the gaps of my collection via online booksellers.)  I found a reminder of days-gone-by in it.  When I was a teenager, I worked part-time for my father's business, Hare Engraving Company, making "rubber plates" that were used in printing newspapers and book covers.  My job, besides making pickups and deliveries to our major client, was taking the zinc plates etched by my father (based on a photographic art design via sulfuric acid etching), making a bakelite mold from that zinc plate, then making a rubber plate that was a duplicate of the zinc plate.  The rubber came in big rolls, about a tenth of an inch thick, and was backed by a red or green sheet of thin plastic - which was basically discarded.  Except that it made a perfect bookmark.  I had many of those bookmarks, cut typically to about 1" by 6", and I still occasionally find them in old books.  They always take me back to those days....


  1. >>“Rhodan gives him the name 'Gucky' because of his ingenuous-looking eyes.” According to, Gucker can mean “eyes.” Perhaps someone more knowledgeable in German than myself can explain...?>>

    "gucken" is the German verb for "to look", the closest literal translation of "Gucky" would be "Looky" ... something like "Big Eyes" which maybe wouldn't read so well in English!

  2. I see (so to speak). Yeah, I think this was a Forry decision that was probably for the best. Thanks! - Kent

  3. "Gucken" is also a bit childish in German and not used very often by adults. A "Guck-Loch" for example is a peeping-hole (Loch=Hole).

    The choice of names in the early days of Perry Rhodan has not been always very lucky. "Rhodan" sounds like a Japanese companion of Gojira, and many of the original names have been changed in the American edition:

    Reginald "Bully" Bull -> Reginald "Reg" Bell
    Clark Flipper -> Clark Fletcher
    Crest -> Khrest (Crest is no real word in German, but of course it is in English)

    and so on. The English language simply was not as common in Germany in the sixties, as it is today.

    Gucky/Pucky has been a controversal character in the series until today - yes, he is still alive and kicking. Hated by one fraction, who believ that such a character does not into a serious hard-fiction series, loved by others because they do not take PR that serious. He definitely is the brain-child of Clark Darlton (Walter Ernsting), whose humour has alway been a bit naive (in the good sense). Pucky is the Ewok of the Perry Rhodan series. In the lase years, the new generation of authors try to "write" him a bit more serious.

  4. Robots: There are two main types employed by Arkonides and (later) Terrans:

    Servants / public service robots are usually androids and look deceptively like humans.

    Battle robots are all metal , though - unlike shown by Johnny Bruck - they do not carry weapons but have a 2nd pair of "arms arms" (pun intended) which are basically blasters.

  5. Peter:

    Thanks for that elaboration on the nature of Arkonide robotics.

    Practically speaking, I can understand why the cover artists would depict the robots as, well, "robotic." Else how would a casual observer be able to distinguish them from regular human beings?

    - Kent

  6. Rebels of Tuglan was my first PR novel, too. 4. reprint series, too be exact. I even remember where I bought it.

    About the covers: Sure, also metallic robots are cool and look badass. Just look at the Terminator. shows a Terran robot with batte arms - Bruck was usually not too much concerned with the number of arms, lots of six-limbed creatures in the book ended up with four limbs. One mustn't forget that he had quite a workload - one cover a week for years and years.

    Speaking of reprints: The reprints got started to catch a younger audience again, but PR has gotten dated, despite being good yarns, so that approach has failed. And since PR is - unlike other long-running series like Superman - sequential, not episodial. Anyone starting with Rhodan now has to face a history of 4000 years and 2.500 single issue. Superman, on the other hand, while older, gets basically retold every 10 years or so. I guess the closest in scope would probably be Doctor Who and even that is much more open to internal inconsistencies, as people expect the Doctor (and probably his history) to change.

    Neo is an attempt to get to a younger group of readers - I've been preaching to colleagues and friends (who read Rhodan at one time or another) that a Re-Imagining would be the only way to go, though I was thinking more of an Animated/Anime style series. A live action tv series (the holy grail of German Rhodan fans) would probably be prohibitively expensive, as a lot of major characters and antagonists would require Serkis/Gollum-like quality effects.

    Unfortunately, in an attempt to become more "edgy" NEO paints the US (and other counties) in a very bad light, which comes dangerously close to anti-Americanism - the prospects of that succeeding in the American market are probably bad.

    The Re-Imaging