Only this uncrowned king could stop the ultimate weapon!
"Poetic, moody, polished, genuinely sensitive!" says sf writer and critic James Gunn about the work of the grandmaster of pulp magazine space opera, Edmond Hamilton, who penned this haunting, lost classic of a man who found the stars too big a fit. When Neil Banning tries to visit his hometown, he discovers he needs a spaceship to get there.
"It can't be true! It must be some kind of hoax!"
These are the words that go spinning through Neil Banning's mind when the Greenville authorities tell him that the house he had grown up in, the aunt and uncle who had raised him, never existed. Soon Banning finds himself in jail, charged with disturbing the peace, and maybe insanity. But when a stranger from outer space visits his cell at midnight and hails him as the Valkar of Katuun. Banning decides that maybe the authorities are right and he is crazy. Because his only alternative is to believe the impossible: that he really is the Valkar of Katuun, exiled emperor of a star empire, and the personality of Neil Banning nothing more than an elaborate fraud.
It doesn't really matter, though, who is right. For Banning finds himself starnapped, on his way to Katuun, whether he likes it or not. And as Banning, or the Valkar, he has to save that star-world from the terror of the Sun Smasher or perish with the loyal subjects he might never even have known!
Here are some of the fascinating characters you will meet in this fast-moving, colorful space opera by Edmond Hamilton, the man known for his cosmic imagination and world-wrecking weapons: Tharanya, Empress of the New Empire, who is hindered by her love for the exiled Emperor of the Old. Rolf, charged with completing a task started 90,000 years earlier. Sohmsei, 50 percent spider, 50 percent man, and 100 percent watchdog. Jommor, a scientist so great he can turn one man into another! Or can he? Zurdis, whose honest face belies his traitor's blood.
The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction says "the scope, color, and dynamic clarity of [Hamilton's] liberated action did much to define the Sense of Wonder for generations of readers." and hailed his work as "Genuine space opera".
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