Hallo. Mein Name ist Vincent und ich lerne Deutsch.
I’m always on the lookout for something new and interesting to read and while randomly surfing the internet I came across something that piqued my interest greatly. Perry Rhodan, a series of stories being written continuously for more than five decades of growth and evolution. I remember Perry Rhodan as a teen, but I hadn’t realised that it was still ongoing. I needed to learn more.
According to Wikipedia the story begins with the first moon landing in 1971 by American astronaut Perry Rhodan and his crew, who then discover a crashed alien spacecraft from the planet Arkon in the M13 cluster. Using Akronide technology they proceed to unify Earth and then open space up to Terra. Fairly humble beginnings for a series with such longevity.
In 1961 this enormous space opera was first published in Germany, created by K. H. Scheer and Clark Darlton, and was originally planned to run for thirty issues. The latest issue of the initial story line as of writing this post is 2725. It boggles the mind really.
Perry Rhodan has gone on to spawn comics strips, many collectables, several encyclopaedia, audio plays, and even a film in 1967. Not bad for a project that was only
supposed to last thirty issues. There have also been several conventions dedicated to the Perry Rhodan universe the last being in 2011.
Also in 2011, to coincide with the 50th anniversary, Perry Rhodan was rebooted and continues on in Perry Rhodan Neo, thus allowing new readers to jump in without committing to 2000+ issues of back story. Not Perry Rhodan: The Next Generation, but Perry Rhodan Redux.
If your native language is English, and you are old enough, you may recall the Ace English translation editions. This was my limited exposure to the Perryverse. I had read a few of the books, but I didn’t have many and I never got the story from the beginning. Now with cheap (relatively) e-readers it’s possible to go back and explore this immense series.
Told in arcs, the stories of Perry Rhodan can take anywhere from 25 to 100 issues to tell. That makes for some very deep story lines and for a depth of universe that Star Wars or Star Trek still have a long way to match. Even Doctor Who, which celebrates 50 years on 23 November this year, can’t match this kind of continuity.
You may be asking yourself why bother? Well just because a story isn’t written in English doesn’t mean it isn’t great or worth reading. Just think if no one outside of Japan took an interest in manga just because it’s Japanese language. That would have been a tragic loss to many manga fans, including myself. I think it’s a shame Perry Rhodan hasn’t been translated more thoroughly than it has, at least in English. In Japan Perry Rhodan has been translated up to issue 800 so far. Kind of makes you think “hmmmm, what might I be missing?”
But why take the trouble to learn German? While it is possible to get fair translations using software, without the work of a dedicated team of translators, I’m quite sure much of the nuance and idiom of the stories would be lost. Sometimes the position of a single comma or period can alter the meaning of a sentence dramatically and I don’t intend to be left in the dark because a computer put a comma in the wrong place or used a common word where a slightly more complex one would convey so much more meaning. I want to read it as the authors (and there are many) intended.
I’ve been learning German for little over a month now and I’ve purchased the first arc of Perry Rhodan stories, Die Dritte Macht (The Third Power), from beam ebooks and I have every intention of starting to read them by the beginning of the new year. I may have some difficulty in the beginning, but I have no doubt after a few weeks it will become second nature and I’ll really start to enjoy myself. Hell, I’m already enjoying myself and I haven’t read a single word yet.
It’s really quite exciting to be working on this little project I’ve made for myself and can’t wait to immerse myself in the universe of Perry Rhodan.
Perry Rhodan is perhaps the largest example of why we, as science fiction enthusiasts, should not close our minds to ideas outside our normal experience. Instead we should eagerly explore the new, the unique, and the special. Isn’t that what science fiction is about in the end?
If you’d like to learn a bit more about Perry Rhodan gibt es hier.
N.B. Use the Google Chrome browser with automatic translation to read the German sites more easily.
Also check out the English language site here.
As an afterthought, after I read the first story, Unternehmen Stardust (Enterprise Stardust), I’ll post a review of the story and whether I feel my endeavours have been worth the trouble or not. I’m fairly certain they will turn out to be.