In one of the paragraphs on the back cover of this book, Gene Wolfe blurbs, ". . . it has the taste and feel and bouquet of the real thing it's Planet Stories come all the way back to roaring life again!"
I beg to differ.
In spite of the two introductions in which the authors proclaim their affection for the space operas of the early '50s, this book, intended as their tribute to them, doesn't even come close. I was sorely disappointed in the first fifty or sixty pages, and I doubt I'll be reading any more.
What's the problem? The whole approach is wrong. This isn't so much a pastiche of those old SF adventures as a parody. The style is arch and knowing, as if the two writers are nudging and winking at each other with every line. Give me the real thing. Edmond Hamilton, Robert Silverberg, Milton Lesser, Leigh Brackett, and others who wrote for the SF digests gave you slam-bang adventure without the winks and nudges. It was high-spirited stuff, but it was mostly played straight. That's what I liked about it, and that's why I gave up on Space Vulture. Maybe it will work for everybody else, but it just doesn't work for me.
Here's a sample of the prose: "As the only person known to tap the human brain's total power, Space Vulture's Common IQ rating was off the scale, too high to be measured. His best self-estimate put it at 850, several hundred points above the galaxy's largest artificially intelligent computer."
Grammar problems aside, it seems a lot like parody to me. I'll take the Good Old Stuff any day.
Update: I forgot to mention that the book's over 300 pages. I doubt any novel by Planet Stories writer would be more than 200 back in the '50s.