Space Tug by Murray Leinster (William Fitzgerald Jenkins) © 1953, this edition Pocket Books 1954 mass market paperback, science fiction – 2nd Joe Kenmore novel
Science fiction was an entirely different thing more than sixty years ago, which should come as no surprise. Today this novel of early space travel, culminating with man’s first landing on the moon, is considered a YA novel, in it’s time it would have been aimed at all SF readers.
Story: After the United Nations couldn’t build and launch a “space platform”, what we now call a manned satellite, due to vetoes by “certain powers”, the United States did it on their own. In the previous Joe Kenmore book Space Platform the building and putting into orbit was detailed. In this one, it’s now time to set up routine supply rockets to the Platform, and to protect it from the wrathful attacks of those certain powers, who fear the U.S. will try to force it’s will upon them. Defensive rockets must be transported to the platform at once in manned rocket transports. Joe will be the pilot, with his three-man crew.
An aside: This is certainly what would be described as “hard science fiction” today. Leinster, like most of the science fiction authors at the time, leans heavily on the science aspect and there are many paragraphs devoted to it, which give the book a strong believability if read with the 1953 level of science and knowledge in mind. Developments since have completely changed our views.
Story, continued: Joe and his crew endure high G forces on take-off, have to dodge hostile rockets, make adjustments to their course – not an easy thing – and then learn to deal with free fall and working on null gravity once on the Platform. The return trip to earth is even more harrowing.
My opinion: Remember, when this was written WWII was only eight years past, and when in a scene the characters drive somewhere they’re probably in a 1953 Ford. Read this one with the time it was written in mind and I think you’ll enjoy it.