Title: The Door Through Space
Author: Marion Zimmer Bradley
First Publication: 1959 (Germany)
Cover Artist(from the 1961 Ace Double): Unknown
Race Cargill is a Terran Intelligence Agent who has been working a desk job since he was disfigured by another agent who went native. He is planning on leaving the planet for good when his sister approaches him with a plea for help. Her husband, the agent who went native, has threatened her and taken their daughter. Race stays to hunt down his former friend and the chess game begins.
Reading this book gives you the feeling that it was a test run for her famous Darkover series. Among the similarities are:
1. Darkover is mentioned as another planet in the empire.
2. The Terran Empire appears to be the same.
3. The world is bound by a compact to the Terran Empire.
4. Dry Towns.
5. The Ghost Wind.
6. ESP is implied.
7. Women are bound by chains.
8. The world orbits a red sun.
10. "Sharra" is used as an exclamation.
With all of these common items, it would not take much of a re-write to make this part of the Darkover series. Bradley chose to move on and write new novels and leave this as a stand alone novel.
If you are looking for a fun pulp style adventure this is definitely a book to consider. Bradley is working in the style of C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, and other great pulp writers.
Bradley did a good job with the depth of the main character, especially since this is her first novel. I liked the way she developed the conflict between his sympathy for the natives and his duty to the Terran Empire. He is always willing to "do the right thing" and help others who are in trouble.
My favorite part of the book is when Race discovers what his former friend is doing to elude him. I won't give it away and spoil the surprise for those who want to read it.
My least favorite part is the ending. It seems like Bradley realized she was running up against a maximum page count and decided to wrap things up quickly. The reading experience of the rest of the novel offsets the disappointment of the ending.
I recommend this for fans of pulp adventures.