Created by Lloyd Biggles, Jr. (1923-2002)
JAN DARZEK used to be a private eye back in New York City on Earth, but now he finds himself starhopping into outerspace (a feat made possible by "Matter Transmission") to do everything from investigating dangerous aliens to confronting the Dark, a world-gobbling entity out to destroy life as we know it throughout the galaxy.
Eventually, all this world defending and universe chomping earns Jan a promotion to First Councilor of the Galaxy.
With, one hopes, an appropriate bump in salary.
It's hard to know how seriously to take all this, given that Biggles was known during his long career for his tongue-in-cheek style that allowed some gentle ribbing of the very genres in which he wrote, and that Darzek himself is pretty much your standard fifties-era gumshoe, prone to the era's usual gunplay, fisticuffs and cheap patter (the first book was published in 1963). But it's set in the "future" of 1985 -- a future that includes moonbases, space travel, aliens both friendly and otherwise, and those good ol' death rays, but still relies on telegrams, there being no such things as computers or robots. It gives the whole series, even the later books, a sort of retro-future charm.
The author was a well known sci-fi author, celebrated for his sense of humour and his quirky characters. He was also a mystery buff, and wrote several non-sci-fi mysteries, including a several novels featuring contemporary private investigators J. Pletcher & Raina Lambert, and several short stories revolving around Grandfather Rastin, which ran in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine for years. A sucker for the Edwardian and Victorian periods in England, he penned several short stories featuring Victorian sleuth, Lady Sara Varnley that appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and a couple of Sherlock Holmes pastiches.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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