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The book you have here – second in the Tom Corbett series by “Carey Rockwell” – is something special. Oh, it was a work made for hire, and after it had its day, even the author (whoever he was in real life) forgot he’d done it. But believe it or not, this book is really pretty neat. It’s the tale of three young space cadets of the Solar Guard: it starts with space maneuvers and a mock attack, and run through complications on places like Venus and Tara. Cool stuff! Read it now!
52,750 words, with a reading time of ~ 3.2 hours (~ 211 pages), and first published in 1953. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2009.
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“Stand by to reduce thrust on main drive rockets!” The tall, broad-shouldered officer in the uniform of the Solar Guard snapped out the order as he watched the telescanner screen and saw the Western Hemisphere of Earth looming larger and larger.
“Aye, aye, Captain Strong,” replied a handsome curly-haired Space Cadet. He turned to the ship’s intercom and spoke quickly into the microphone.
“Control deck to power deck. Check in!”
“Power deck, aye,” a bull-throated voice bellowed over the loud-speaker.
“Stand by rockets, Astro! We’re coming in for a landing.”
The Solar Guard officer turned away from the telescanner and glanced quickly over the illuminated banks of indicators on the control panel. “Is our orbit to Space Academy clear?” he asked the cadet. “Have we been assigned a landing ramp?”
“I’ll check topside, sir,” answered the cadet, turning back to the intercom. “Control deck to radar deck. Check in!”
“Radar bridge, aye,” drawled a lazy voice over the speaker.
“Are we cleared for landing, Roger?”
“Everything clear as glass ahead, Tom,” was the calm reply.
“We’re steady on orbit and we touch down on ramp seven. Then”–the voice began to quicken with excitement–“three weeks’ liberty coming up!”
The rumbling voice of the power-deck cadet suddenly broke in over the intercom. “Lay off that space gas, Manning. Just see that this space wagon gets on the ground in one piece. Then you can dream about your leave!”
“Plug your jets, you big Venusian ape man,” was the reply, “or I’ll turn you inside out!”
“Yeah? You and what fleet of spaceships?”
“Just me, buster, with my bare hands!”
The Solar Guard officer on the control deck smiled at the young cadet beside him as the good-natured argument crackled over the intercom speaker overhead. “Looks like those two will never stop battling, Corbett,” he commented dryly.
“Guess they’ll never learn, sir,” sighed the cadet.
“That’s all right. It’s when they stop battling that I’ll start getting worried,” answered the officer. He turned back to the controls. “One hundred thousand feet from Earth’s surface! Begin landing procedure!”
As Cadet Tom Corbett snapped orders into the intercom and his unit-mates responded by smooth co-ordinated action, the giant rocket cruiser Polaris slowly arched through Earth’s atmosphere, first nosing up to lose speed and then settling tailfirst toward its destination–the spaceport at Space Academy, U.S.A.
Far below, on the grounds of the Academy, cadets wearing the green uniforms of first-year Earthworms and the blue of the upper-classmen stopped all activity as they heard the blasting of the braking rockets high in the heavens. They stared enviously into the sky, watching the smooth steel-hulled spaceship drop toward the concrete ramp area of the spaceport, three miles away.
In his office at the top of the gleaming Tower of Galileo, Commander Walters, commandant of Space Academy, paused for a moment from his duties and turned from his desk to watch the touchdown of the great spaceship. And on the grassy quadrangle, Warrant Officer Mike McKenny, short and stubby in his scarlet uniform of the enlisted Solar Guard, stopped his frustrating task of drilling newly arrived cadets to watch the mighty ship come to Earth.
Young and old, the feeling of belonging to the great fleet that patrolled the space lanes across the millions of miles of the solar system was something that never died in a true spaceman. The green-clad cadets dreamed of the future when they would feel the bucking rockets in their backs. And the older men smiled faintly as memories of their own first space flight came to mind.
Aboard the Polaris, the young cadet crew worked swiftly and smoothly to bring their ship to a safe landing. There was Tom Corbett, an average young man in this age of science, who had been selected as the control-deck and command cadet of the Polaris unit after rigid examinations and tests. Topside, on the radar bridge, was Roger Manning, cocky and brash, but a specialist in radar and communications. Below, on the power deck, was Astro, a colonial from Venus, who had been accused of cutting his teeth on an atomic rocket motor, so great was his skill with the mighty “thrust buckets,” as he lovingly called the atomic rockets.
Now, returning from a routine training flight that had taken them to the moons of Jupiter, the three cadets, Corbett, Manning, and Astro, and their unit skipper, Captain Steve Strong, completed the delicate task of setting the great ship down on the Academy spaceport.