Notes for Binder’s ‘Son of the Stars’

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JPG image of illustrations for 'Son of the Stars' story

Image of illustrations for ‘Son of the Stars’ story

Notes and comments for Binder’s ‘Son of the Stars’

Binder, E. (1940). Son of the Stars. In Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Volume 1, No. 5, February 1940. Accessed 9/09/16 from

  1. Beginning with an intriguing image of a human face with a very large cranium linked by a sort of monochrome rainbow to an ape head, the reader can see women in swirling dresses gesturing at a male figure who controls valves and pipes.
  2. The narrative itself starts boldly with the protagonist looking down to see an old man dead at his feet and realising that he is more alone than any other human has ever been. These first two paragraphs of the story are a hook into the story as well as an indication that the author is not afraid of either exclamation marks for drama, or italics.
  3. Dave Standish was taken on board the GS craft at eight and has known only Doctor Roscoe, the scientist who the reader finds dead in the first paragraph, since that age.
  4. Dave was taught by Roscoe and knows that he came from the Earth and the ship travelled at half the speed of light to 61-Cygni.  He is also instructed by film reels and knows what he has left behind, on Earth.
  5. Dave was chosen for the 50 year flight because of his strong body and mind and scientists of Earth prepared him medically for the rigors of the flight.
  6. Dave is to be told the purpose of the flight on his 21st birthday but Roscoe deteriorated rapidly into a babbling wreck, suffering from advancing senility caused by the vast emptiness of space he sees each day for years through the quartz porthole windows. He tells Dave that, “The void has taken its toll. It has shattered my mind! You have no fear of the abysses of space” (Binder, 1940)
  7. A choking and sinking Roscoe tells Dave why the trip is so vital. A scientific experiment to increase human intelligence and ability that involved bombarding the Earth with radiation has caused the mutation of babies. The radiation has destroyed a hormone that checked the mutation into either large-headed insane creatures or ugly, ape-like submen. This explains the graphic at the stop of the story.
  8. The nuclear powered GS is heading to a planet to find a cure. Otherwise, the Earth is doomed. Roscoe falls into a coma and dies and a curiously blank Dave shoves him out of the air-lock.
  9. The Son of the Stars, Dave, is quite emotionless through most of the story. He seems to be missing compassion for his surrogate father and has few feelings about either the ship or his long journey, that continues for another five years, with the super-ship plummeting into the void. Dave eats, sleeps, reads, inspects meters and does not have a strong sense of time passing. He stares out at the stars for hours on end. His mind is “as cold and unformed as space itself” (Binder, 1940)
  10. Luckily, Dave finds a planet in the right orbit and it is green and lush, with a large, clean city. He lands his pancake-shaped ship and gazes out for an hour “lost in a staring trance” (Binder, 1940)
  11. Dave is met by a crowd and he is shocked (finally) to find that the tall and lovely ones are women and the few men are shorter and hang back as though timid. Dave has felt the attractions of a woman from movie reels but in this crowd greeting the ship his eyes meet a “certain girl near him” and even though they are speaking an unknown language, the language of love is clear to all.
  12. Dave moves in as married with Tara on the beautiful planet of Rendora and time passes like a beautiful dream. It is an Utopian city and a wonderful, mild planet and he works in the fields happily by day and joins in music and dancing at night. Dave has a vague memory of something he must do, but his happiness dispels the memory.
  13. Tara reveals she is pregnant with Dave and suddenly he remembers his urgent mission to save Earth when she delivers an ape-like creature. Dave immediately leaves his moaning wife’s bedside and runs back to the GS craft where he reads the instructions for saving doomed Earth and gives a speech to assembled multitudes of Rendora. They weep and are convinced of his need and thousands give blood, the “life-blood of one world, given to another” (Binder, 1940)
  14. Dave does not waste a minute and when the cans of blood are sealed he says goodbye to the beautiful planet, his wife who begs to come along, and he returns to Earth on another 22 year journey.
  15. Dave arrives on Earth an old man and he is surprised to find his home planet in good working order with the space port bustling. He is taken to the Masters, just as he was on Rendora, who here are all males and all have large heads, with “bulging cranium and lofty brow” (Binder, 1940)
  16. Crushingly, he is told that they are emptying the Rendoran blood onto the ground and his trip was useless. In fact, the large-headed babies born caused by the radiation were superior to homo sapiens and all the old style people, like Dave, have been sterilized to build a pure, advanced society.
  17. Dave shudders, laughs horribly, writhes and moans, “Rendora! Tara!” realising all he has lost, including the fifty years or so onboard his pancake craft.

Relevance to the GS Project Focus Questions

The focus questions for the GS Project are:

  1. What is worth holding onto over the generations?
  2. What should be discarded for the voyage? and
  3. Can life be sustained in the GS …or on Earth?

Only a few comments are made here related to the three questions, above, mostly because the narrative itself will be interpreted differently by different readers. But what might be noted here are:

  • Is it difficult to work out what should be held onto over the generations of Dave’s flights to Rendora and back to Earth? While the whole story relates to Dave and his mission, then his forgetting of the mission and eventual abandoning of his wife and new planet when he remembers the mission, how are these themes of duty and memory portrayed to the reader?
  • Is the final irony of Dave’s intense emotions when he realises all he has lost a comment on Dave’s mission, or his character as a Son of the Stars?
  • The depiction of the scientist Dr Roscoe and the advanced, intelligent, big-brains seems to indicate negative aspects to science and technology? Does the author believe that science should be discarded in favour of the purer, Utopian life of Rendora?
  • What does the story say about the sustainability of human life in the GS? Is the emotionless, selfish Dave a product of the flight amongst the stars?
  • Given that the pancake-ship itself never misses a beat and can travel 28 light years faultlessly, does this mean the authors think such a vehicle can be and should be built?


Resource List

Binder, E. (1940). Son of the Stars. In Famous Fantastic Mysteries. Volume 1, No. 5, February 1940. Accessed 9/09/16 from

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