The Cometeers

The Cometeers is a collection of two science fiction novels by the American writer Jack Williamson. It was first published by Fantasy Press in 1950 in an edition of 3,162 copies. The novels were originally serialized in the magazine Astounding in 1936 and 1939, and later released as individual paperbacks by Pyramid Books.

The Cometeers

Dust-jacket from the first edition
Author Jack Williamson
Illustrator Edd Cartier (frontispiece and endpapers)
Cover artist Edd Cartier
Country United States
Language English
Series Legion of Space Series
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Fantasy Press
Publication date
1950
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 259
Preceded by The Legion of Space 
Followed by The Queen of the Legion 

One Against the Legion was also published in Great Britain in 1970, in a paperback edition by Sphere Books Ltd. This edition included an additional novel, Nowhere Near, chronologically the fourth in the Legion of Space series. It featured, among others, Giles Habibula, and Lilith, a new Keeper of the Peace and mistress of AKKA.

. . . The Cometeers . . .

  • “The Cometeers”
  • “One Against the Legion”

Young Bob Star—the son of hero John Star and Aladoree Anthar, the Keeper of AKKA—lives in the Purple Hall on Phobos, feeling like a prisoner. Grim news arrives about a “comet” approaching the solar system, a green comet that moves about as if managed by intelligent beings. These presumed aliens are referred to as The Cometeers by the news media.

After the Cometeers penetrate the secret archives of The Green Hall and carry out the information that a man named Merrin is alive, the Council of The Green Hall decides to destroy the comet with the secret weapon AKKA. However, Jay Kalam, the commander of the Legion, seeks peaceful contact with the aliens first. The Green Hall rescinds its order to destroy the comet. Kalam draws up a plan to protect the Keeper, safeguard Merrin, and attempt contact with the Cometeers.

Merrin is actually Stephen Orco – Bob Star’s acquaintance at the Legion Academy. Merrin is in fact a psychopath, but also an extremely brilliant, former Legionnaire who once subjected Bob Star to horrific torture with the help of the Iron Confessor device developed by the “Reds” of Old Earth. Kalam tells Bob that an entrepreneur, Edward Orco, found in space a life-support space capsule with a child inside who Orco adopted under the name Stephen. Stephen Orco, after being graduated from the Academy, was assigned to Callisto. There he created a vortex gun based on the plasma weapons of the Medusae, and raised a revolt against the Green Hall.

Aladoree Anthar’s attempt to destroy the rebels with AKKA failed, as Stephen Orco has managed to duplicate the same weapon. However, the Legion was able to develop its vortex cannon and forced Orco to surrender. Orco bargained for his life, and wrung a concession that only Bob Star would henceforth have the right to kill him. Kalam gives Bob Star orders to make sure Orco does not escape the prison, implying that Star should execute him if necessary to fulfill that order. Star accepts the duty, but is uncertain he could kill Orco.

Kalam leaves Star on Neptune, where Orco is kept in a secret prison, and goes off on a mission of goodwill to the Cometeers. At the prison, Bob Star sees an image of a girl, who begs him with gestures to kill Orco. Suddenly the Cometeers attack the prison. Before Bob Star can bring himself to kill Orco, the Cometeers free the prisoner and murder all his jailers. Surviving legionnaires Giles Habibula and Hal Samdu, along with Bob Star, find the wrecked ship of Jay Kalam, which had been destroyed by a Cometeer spaceship not long after leaving Neptune. Then they locate and commandeer a rebel ship, the Halcyon Bird and fly away. But a lone Cometeer overtakes them and destroys the ship’s engines.

The heroes land on a mysterious asteroid – the base of a brilliant scientist (but they also find traces of the Cometeers having preceded them). Jay Kalam finds an encrypted journal, which he endeavors to decipher. Bob Star once again sees the girl – this time the girl becomes real and joins him by using a kind of teleportation. She speaks a language unknown to the Legionnaires. She is desperate to tell them something, but all they understand is her name – Kay Nymidee.

The asteroid is drawn into the green comet. It is really no comet, but a vast structure filled with planetoids and an artificial sun. Giles Habibula, who was once a thief and an expert lock-breaker, finds a hidden cache of fuel and with it the four Legionnaires and Kay fly the Halcyon Bird to the main comet planetoid, where are captured by Cometeers.

They are thrown into a prison ship along with hundreds of other humans. Kalam suddenly recognizesthe language that Kay Nymidee speaks. She is a descendant of the Spanish crew of a research spaceship captured by Cometeers, centuries earlier. She knows that in the center of the main planetoid is a weapon that can destroy the incorporeal Cometeers. Bob Star is able to rouse the prisoners to revolt; they seize the prison ship and bring the Legionnaires and Kay to the central planetoid. After many challenges, they enter the locked chamber holding the weapon, where they find … an empty box!

The ruler of the Cometeers arrives, along with Stephen Orco, who has been transformed into a Cometeer. They plan to kill the humans. Kalam stalls for time. He reveals to Steven Orco that Orco is an android, an artificial person, created on the mysterious asteroid by the exiled scientist Eldo Arruni. Realizing what a dangerous being he had created, Arruni placed Orco in a capsule and sent it into space. While Jay Kalam stalls, Giles Habibula is seeking to open a hidden compartment in the box. He does so, and inside he finds a mysterious weapon, which he passes to Bob Star. Star, now knowing that Orco is not human, overcomes his Iron Confessor conditioning and by means of the weapon destroys both Orco and all the Cometeers.

With the Cometeers vanquished, their alien slaves are no longer hostile to the humans. All captured humans are freed: Bob Star’s parents are found safe and sound among them. With the death of Orco, AKKA is once more a force that can be used to protect humankind. The slaves of the Cometeers agree to take the comet beyond the Solar System. Bob Star introduces Kay to his mother, and names her his bride-to-be. Giles finds Hal Samdu and encourages him to come along to “see if we can’t find some proper human food and drink – “.

. . . The Cometeers . . .

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. . . The Cometeers . . .