Perry Rhodan is a science fiction pulp hero created by K. H. Scheer and Walter Ernsting who were German science fiction authors. The first story was published in 1961 in a digest format consisting of 66 pages. So far some 400 paperbacks and 200 hardcover novels have been published in the German language, the county of origin. Sales of the series have totaled about 2 billion worldwide while one half of the volume sold in Germany alone. The Perry Rodan series is considered to be one of the best selling of all time. The series has been translated into multiple languages including English, it has been published as a comic, and one theatrical movie was made based upon the digest stories. There have also some audio plays and PC gaming based on the series as well, although entirely in German.
Who is Perry Rodan?
Major Perry Rodan is a member of the US Space Force and was the leader of the first expedition to the moon during the year 1971. Once on the surface, Rodan and his crew encounter two extraterrestrials living in a disabled spaceship. The two beings are a man and a woman from the fictional planet of Arkon located in the M13 star cluster. After making contact they depart back to Earth with some shared alien technology. Back on Earth, Rodan is successful in promoting world peace and brings the Arkons with him placing their ship in a remote part of the world. Major Rodan chose that location to ensure the alien technology would not fall into the wrong hands.
The Perry Rodan Universe
The Perry Rodan universe does start out in the year 1971 which was a near future setting from the time it was first produced. The series was written at the time of the cold war between the US and the former Soviet Union as well as a product of post-WW2 Germany. Therefore, stories do contain elements of conflict between east and west. Rodan himself is tired of seeing the world at odds with each other and creates a nation-state separate from the superpowers, then declares himself a citizen of the world. The superpowers feel threatened by the new country that Rodan created and attempt to destroy it; however, a force shield created by the Arkons defends the newly formed country. The settlement which Perry named The Third Power does become recognized by the rest of the world after the defeated attack. Once The Third Power is secure, Rodan invites other people from around the Earth to join his newly independent country. He even gets the assistance of a former banker to help finance his government. Once organized, Rodan seeks to unite the planet and end the cold war on Earth. He is successful in both efforts and creates a new world government as a result. Rodan doesn't even stop there. He goes on to investigate incidents on other worlds, quells rebellions, and makes contact with other alien planets throughout the run of the series.
Thora, who was the commander of the Arkon spaceship, becomes the love interest of Perry Rodan. They both fall in love and do eventually marry one another; Thora also gives birth to their only child. However, she gets killed off in later issues of the series. Even more tragic is their son blaming Perry for his mother's death and becomes a villain in the series.
There are other extraordinary characters that get introduced to the Perry Rodan Universe. Among them are more aliens from different worlds. One of the most popular aliens is Glucky, a telepathic rodent-like being. He seems to be at Perry's side quite a lot and is in and out of danger with Perry and his friends. Then there is Alon, an ancient Akron who was once a commander on the continent of Atlantis. He was found in a state of suspended amination and then awoke to become a part of Perry's team. Also, there is an assortment of mutants that are a part of Perry's entourage.
The first English editions of the series came out in the late 60s with the publication of the first two stories by Ace books. Legionary Sci-Fi fan Forest J. Ackerman had a hand in getting the Rodan novels translated and published in the US. Ace books published some 115 Perry Rodan translated stories from 1969 to 1975. Afterward, a dispute with the German publishers halted any more publications of the series. Later on, during the 90s and early 2000s, some limited issues in English were published.
Spoilers Ahead: The first Perry Rodan movie was titled Mission Stardust for English speaking audiences. The motion picture is a German, Italian, and Spanish co-production made in 1967. It was based on the first few issues of the Perry Rodan stories. The movie stars Lang Jeffries as Perry Rodan, Essy Persson as Thora, and John Karlsen as Crest. Other cast members included Gianni Rizzo as Criminal Leader and John Bartha as General Roon. The plot involves Rodan and his crew meeting the aliens in a first contact. They are greeted by Thora, the commander of the alien spaceship and Crest, an Arkon scientist who has an incurable disease. Rodan is asked to assist Crest in finding an Earth scientist who can cure him. Perry and Thora leave the Arkon ship on a smaller shuttlecraft for Earth to find the scientist. When the Arkon shuttlecraft lands on Earth, they are surrounded by a military force commanded by General Roon. The Earth military forces try to destroy the Arkon shuttlecraft but can't even get close due to the force field that surrounds the ship. Also, Thora doesn't hesitate to use anti-gravity ray on the soldiers, causing them to float in the air. In the meantime, Perry and one of the crewmembers head out to locate the doctor that Crest needs. They find the doctor and convince him to return with them to the Arkon ship; however, they find that the doctor and his nurses are impostors. One of Rodan's crew was a traitor and was working for the crime lord who had wanted a rare element that Perry's expedition was sent to obtain. Instead, the crime lord decides to help himself the Arkon technology since it would be more valuable to him. The crime lord has the real doctor as his prisoner and uses him to ensure Rodans cooperation. However, the crime lord's plan to acquire the Arkon tech is thwarted by Thora when he gets pushed out of the spaceship airlock. Later, the doctor is freed and is able to cure Crest. The movie ended with Rodan securing good relations with the Arkons as they head back to Earth.
This video details the history of the Perry Rodan comic series from 1968 to 1975. The video lasts for about 15 minutes and has English subtitles. There is some great comic book artwork contained in this video.
My Thoughts on 'Perry Rodan' Series
I have not read any of the Perry Rodan novels or stories, I had only heard about Rodan via articles and internet post. I had watched the movie Mission Stardust when I was a kid not realizing what it was. I certainly enjoyed the movie and I was able to watch it again on YouTube. From what I have read about the Perry Rodan series, it seems to be very exciting and adventurous. The series has a bigger universe than Star Trek and Star Wars combined based upon what I have read so far. I would very much like to read the first novel in the series one day. I am sure the series would not disappoint any hardcore fan of space opera.
Sources and Suggested Reading
Here are some links to more information on Perry Rodan.