My Life in Books: David Starr, Space Ranger

Still in my science fiction phase as a teenager, I found this book in the school library.  It was the first in a series of six books by Isaac Asimov, written to introduce kids to the solar system.  The main character, David Starr, is a dashing young adventurer, and each book of the series featured a different planet in the solar system, on which David “Lucky” Starr would get involved in an exciting adventure (I think he was supposed to be something like the Lone Ranger in space), using facts about the planet as a backdrop.  This first book was set on Mars. 

The problem was, these books were written in the fifties, and our knowledge of the solar system was erroneous back then.  I remember, for instance, that in the book set on Venus it was a planet where it rained all the time – we have since learned that the clouds shrouding Venus contain no water.  I read all six books in this series, and in the front of each was an apology from Isaac Asimov, pointing out what errors had since come to light since he wrote them, but since changing the books to correct the facts would change the plots too much, he’d decided not to rewrite them.

They may no longer be the educational tools that Asimov intended, but they are still rollicking good space adventure stories, and a great science fiction books for teens.


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