When the Inter-Planetary Corporation's (IPC) crack liner “IPV Arcturus” took off on a routine flight to Mars, it turned out to be the beginning of a unexpected and long voyage. There had been too many reports of errors in ship's flight positions from the Check Stations and brilliant physicist Dr. Percival (“Steve”) Stevens is aboard the Arcturus on a fact-finding mission to find out what's really happening, and hopefully save the honor of the brave pilots of the space-liner Arcturus from the desk-jockeys' in the Check Stations implications of imprecision - the nastiest insult you could cast at a ships pilot. He and the pilots are right, it was the Check Stations that were out of position, not the ships. But that's cold consolation because before the Arcturus reaches Mars it's attacked by a small, mysterious, globe shaped spaceship.
Pulpy Sci Fi at its best! This is an excellent classic sci fi story written when men were men and women were beautiful ( and darn good with a bow and arrow ).
The story introduces our heros and almost immediately throws them into challenging scenarios and conflict. Of course being heros they are not easily killed and able to rise to pretty much any challenge.
The bad guys in this story are totally bad, in fact single minded and unthinking in regards to anything but "attack". It makes them rather two dimensional. Although the story presents them as highly technical and advanced, they are not fleshed out. This left them as a rather card board cut-out enemy, who although "bad" didn't really evoke a feeling of menace. I might also mention that in a couple of places the author has indulged in a paragraph techno-bable. These faults are however very small problems.
This is a fun adventure in space with aliens, spaceships, space-battles and heros. It's read by the impecable Mark Nelson who gives us an outstanding performance.
Total Score 7/9
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