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Skylark Duquesne (1965)

de E. E. 'Doc' Smith

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Sèrie: Skylark (4)

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Scientists Dick Seaton and Marc DuQuesne were the deadliest enemies in the galaxy. Their feud had blazed among the stars and challenged the history of a thousand planets. But now a threat from outside the galaxy drove them into a desperate alliance as hordes of strange aliens stormed through space on a collision course with Man. Seaton and DuQuesne fought side by side to fend off the invasion - as Seaton kept constant, perilous watch for DuQuesne's inevitable double-cross.… (més)

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DuQuesne takes the lead in this, the culmination of the Seaton/DuQuesne matchup. He briefly works side-by-side with Seaton, and proves himself indispensable in the ultimate confrontation with humankind's greatest foe.

DuQuesne escapes from the stasis of time owing to a design oversight by Seaton. He strikes out on his own to discover the non-human Llurdi and their human slaves, the Jelmi. The Llurdi wield untold power and are the greatest threat ever for humankind. Even worse, if worse can be imagined, the Llurdi themselves are fearful of a more powerful threat coming from Galaxy DW-427-LU! Realizing that he is powerless against these threats, DuQuesne calls on Seaton to cooperate in mutual defense. For the first time it is he who initiates cooperation but he quickly reverts to perfidy, sending Seaton off to face the greater, unknown threat instead of to the Llurdi galaxy.

The Llurdi consider the Jelmi to be warlike, unsane and a scourge of the universe. They tolerate the Jelmi only because their intuition can produce technological breakthroughs that the Llurdi, limited to reason alone, cannot. They have released an elite group of Jelmi to pursue breakthroughs which they abjured while enslaved. DuQuesne tracks them down and finds they have discovered a fourth-dimensional, weapons-grade technology. Realizing that this will be useful to attack Seaton, he ingratiates himself with the Jelmi biologist, Sennlloy. She examines the depths of DuQuesne's mind and, finding him suitable, shares their technology with him and invites him into their gene pool through her portal.

DuQuesne catches up with Seaton in Galaxy DW-427-LU and launches his attack. Seaton survives, but DuQuesne's fourth-dimensional forces attract the attention of the indiginous threat, who turn out to be the vicious Chlorans of the kind Seaton defeated in the battle of Valeron ([Skylark of Valeron]). Seaton retreats while defending himself as best he can.

DuQuesne, observing the attack, realizes that more than Jelmi technology is required to defeat the Chlorans. He finds a surviving contingent of Fenachrone ([Skylark Three]) on the Llurdi planet, whisks them away through the fourth dimension and forms them into a coherent fighting force. With Fenachrone to synchronize Jelmi technology, DuQuesne destroys 15 thousand the Chloran planets before their massed forces beat him back. But this is barely one ten-thousandth of their total. Once again facing impossible odds, he calls on Seaton for help.

Seaton, meanwhile, repaired his spaceship near a human planet in the Chloran galaxy and gained the friendship of one Kay-Lee Barlo while helping her planet, Ray-See-Nee, recover from Chloran domination. He then tracked down the Jelmi and got their fourth-dimensional technology, a step behind DuQuesne.

Seaton knows that he was duped by DuQuesne in the Chloran attack and can't believe it when he gets a second call from DuQuesne for a working truce. When told the facts about the Chlorans, the scale of which he was totally ignorant, Seaton agrees to cooperate. They need something beyond the beyond in technology and Kay-Lee brings it to them. Kay-Lee, her mother and grandmother, all have a psychic talent and use it to call all the cognizant minds of humanity together--the Norlaminians, the Jelmi, DuQuesne, Seaton, Crane, and others unnamed here.

The best and brightest of humankind, channeled through the psychics, produce the breakthrough--a fully-developed, synchronized fourth-dimensional weapon with which to attack the Chlorans. They use it to transport suns from a sacrificial galaxy into each Chloran star system while transporting the human planet in that system to a safe harbor galaxy. Each star system becomes a supernova and the galaxy eventually coalesces into a single, supergalacticnova!

Before the attack is well underway, the few psychics among the Chlorans discover the center of the attack and launch a counter-offensive. Seaton, Crane, and DuQuesne are beaten down, but not killed outright. The Fenachrone respond and have just enough time to set a defensive screen around DuQuesne; he quickly recovers, locates the Chloran center of attack, and directs the next sun into their star system. End of Chloran resistance!

Seaton and Crane are taken away from the action to recover and DuQuesne directs the destruction of the Chlorans to its grim finale. DuQuesne does not reconcile with Seaton after, choosing instead to ride off into the sunset to rule a galaxy far, far away.
* * *
The Skylark series is unusual in that DuQuesne, the anti-hero, is ascendant at the end over the hero, Seaton. DuQuesne never abandons those qualities that make him a villain: his dominating self-interest, his ruthlessness in getting what he wants. Mankind is fortunate that he does not for, lacking DuQuesne with these qualities intact, mankind loses to the Chlorans.

This suggests that we re-examine the heroic and anti-heroic qualities of Seaton and DuQuesne. It turns out that there is not that much difference between the two. Jelmi Sennlloy examined both DuQuesne and Seaton, found them both eminently satisfactory as partners, and wanted both of them in the Jelmi gene pool. They are both brilliant in mind and masterful of body. The edge goes to Seaton slightly in terms of raw ability. He also can unite people in a common cause: the Urvanians and Osnomians in battle against the Fenachrone, the Norlaminians in integrating their knowledge, the Valerians and the people of Ray-See-Nee, in standing up to the Chlorans. This unity was necessary to achieve the technology to defeat the Chlorans.

But Seaton has compunctions against unlimited warfare. He cannot pull the trigger to destroy the Fenachrone planet, leaving that task to Dunark of Osnome. Seaton is willing to have the Fenachrone exterminated completely (so he thinks), not seeing a place in the universe for them. DuQuesne will use any tool within reach that supports his purpose, including the Fenachrone, including even Seaton, and has no compunction against exterminating the whole galaxy of Chlorans.

So, it may be that the appellation of good or evil is not applicable to man unless one can foresee all contingencies, all eventualities. And who among us can? As Tolkien writes regarding judgment of Sméagol, Be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends. . .do you remember Gandalf's words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. And, at the bitter end, DuQuesne steps into the role that will save mankind.

Concluding with Melville, from [Moby-Dick], If then, to meanest mariners, and renegades and castaways, I shall hereafter ascribe high qualities, though dark. . .if even the most mournful, perchance the most abased, among them all, shall at times lift himself to the exalted mounts. . .if I shall spread a rainbow over his disastrous set of sun; then against all mortal critics bear me out in it, thou just Spirit of Equality, which hast spread one royal mantle of humanity over all my kind!. ( )
1 vota WilfGehlen | Aug 11, 2009 |
See Skylark of Space. ( )
  TadAD | May 19, 2008 |
I think the reason I like the Skylark series, despite the universe-saving, is that they get new gadgets and develop their brains but they don't become immortal/superpowerful in themselves. In fact, in the final conflict, the two heroes get knocked out and it's DuQuesne who has to save the day...eeek! And DuQuesne (as illustrated by the aforesaid) is _definitely_ not a cardboard villain - he has reasons and logic and acts as seems appropriate in each situation. Of course he is a megalomaniac as well, but nobody's perfect... ( )
1 vota jjmcgaffey | Feb 13, 2008 |
Derring-do on a galactic scale with lots of supernudists, an utterly logical alien race (among others), witches, and what are very nearly von Neumann machines, all of which brings this seminal series to a glorious climax which coruscates the very fabric of space-time.
  kencf0618 | Feb 4, 2008 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
E. E. 'Doc' Smithautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Foss, ChrisAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gaughan, JackAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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Scientists Dick Seaton and Marc DuQuesne were the deadliest enemies in the galaxy. Their feud had blazed among the stars and challenged the history of a thousand planets. But now a threat from outside the galaxy drove them into a desperate alliance as hordes of strange aliens stormed through space on a collision course with Man. Seaton and DuQuesne fought side by side to fend off the invasion - as Seaton kept constant, perilous watch for DuQuesne's inevitable double-cross.

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