Star Rangers

(aka) The Last Planet

~ 1st Novel in the Central Control Series by Andre Norton


Synopsis ~

Write-up from an old posting ~

In 8054 A.D. the Stellar Patrol was the last remnant of the power of a once flourishing intergalactic empire. It is a time of decadence and dissolution in the Empire. Sector wars are carrying off more and more worlds from Central Control. Individual bureaucrats are usurping their positions to carve out private kingdoms. Only the incorruptible Patrol and its Code remain to stand in their way. Yet, the Patrol has seen better days. Their ships are old and there are no replacements- only cannibalization keeps them running. The supply ships come less and less often. Communications between sectors- and with Central Control itself is breaking down. There are fewer and fewer new recruits. The only thing still as strong as ever is the dedication, honor, and tradition of the Patrol.
The Vegan scout Starfire was one of the few ships left to the Patrol Fleet, which was dispersed on a useless mission to remap forgotten systems on the edge of the galaxy. The crew of the Starfire realized that there was little chance that they would ever return – yet they performed their duty to the best of their ability. Until Starfire crashed and could go no further. They were stranded on a fertile planet, with breathable air – but it was completely off their charts. There the mixed crew of aliens and humans had to face the dangers of a strange planet, and the greatest threat of all – the breakdown of discipline and the beginnings of anarchy.
Quickly scouting around their crash site, they find evidence of a long vanished high tech civilization in the Sealed Cities, along with nomadic hunter-gatherer level groups of humans. Looking for better shelter to tend their injured personnel, the rangers enter one of the cities, only to find it occupied by another group of refugees and ruled by the Acturian Cummi, a master telepath, one who is not above overpowering and directly controlling other people’s minds, who is bent on becoming the sole ruler of the planet. Zinga, a member of the ancient historian race of Zacathans, and the human Kartr, both high order telepaths themselves, though not of the strength of Cummi, end up in a memorable mental battle with Cummi.


Write-up from the front flap of  the 1953 dustjacket ~

Andre Norton's first science-fiction book, Star Man's Son, was hailed by experts as the best to date by an experienced author new to this medium. With Star Rangers, she proves again her mastery in the field.
Central Control, for years in supreme command of the first Galactic Empire, had fallen on corrupt and bitter days by 8054 A.D. And so when the crew of the Patrol ship Starfire found themselves wrecked on an unknown planet without hope of rescue, it was up to the Rangers - those scouts whose business it was to explore and map new territory - to establish a way of life for the survivors. Led by Kartr, they left the wreckage of their spaceship and struck out across the desert for the green country beyond. There they found a deserted city in such a state of preservation that all its complex mechanized devices could be operated once again. How they battled almost to the death - using not only blasters but mind control - with Vice-Sector Lord who wished to rule as dictator in this forgotten planet makes a top-flight novel of suspense.


Write-up from the front flap of the 1968 UK dustjacket ~

Star Ranger is set in the far distant future when civilization has exploded to the most remote corners of the galaxy.
Central Control, for years in supreme command of the first Galactic Empire, had fallen on corrupt and bitter days by 8054 A.D. And so when the crew of the Patrol ship Starfire found themselves wrecked on an unknown planet without hope of rescue, it was up to the Rangers—those scouts whose business it was to explore and map new territory—to establish a way of life for the survivors. Led by Kartr, they left the wreckage of their spaceship and struck out across the desert for the green country beyond. There they found a deserted city in such a state of preservation that all its complex mechanised devices could be operated once again. How they battled almost to the death—using not only blasters but mind-control—With a Vice-Sector Lord who wished to rule as dictator on this forgotten planet makes a top-flight story of suspense.
This novel, first published in America some years ago, was the second science-fiction book for young people to be written by Miss Norton. While not exactly a sequel to her first, Star Man’s Son, there is a twist to its tail that neatly ties it in with the earlier book. It is interesting, too, in showing a stage in the development of a writer who has become so deservedly popular with such books as Lord of Thunder, Catseye, and Judgment on Janus.


Write-up from the back of the Fawcett paperback edition ~

They were following orders on a voyage of no return!
The Stellar Patrol crew of the Vegan scout Starfire knew when they began their voyage that for them there would be no return. Their mission was to re-map forgotten galactic border systems in hope of establishing new bases for what was left on the once mighty Patrol.
But years and countless planets later, only a few survivors remained to explore the world on which they were hopelessly stranded. A world that was both extraordinarily alien and mysteriously familiar. A world on which they fight for their lives, battle to the death and discover that the end of unknowing could also be the most dangerous beginning of all….


Write-up from the back of the Ballantine Del Rey paperback edition ~

Grave New World
The scoutship Starfire had seen too many missions. She could have blown anywhere – crashing on an Earth-type planet was pure luck. The crew were hopelessly stranded, but at least they could breathe, eat, and drink without fear of sudden death.
Then one night a beacon swept the sky, and the survivors knew they were not alone.
So Ranger Sergeant Kartr set out to investigate. But even his highly developed senses were no match for the dreadful evil he encountered. And if he and the other rangers could not stop that evil, they might never discover the world’s secret – the answer to mankind’s greatest mystery.
“A magnificent success, both in romance and wonder. An engrossing adventure that is skillfully set on a small stage against the massive background of intergalactic intrigue and decadence.” – The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction


Write-ups from fans ~

In the last days of a galactic-wide civilization, a spaceship of the Space Patrol makes its last landing (a crash) on a planet completely off the star charts.  The captain, Vibor, is seriously injured with a head wound.  Ranger Sergeant Kartr, with his small command of two Bemmies (Zinga, a Zacathan, and Fylh, a Tristian) and a dark-adapted human, Rolth, takes charge and evacuates the crew, then after exploring their new planet home, the Rangers discover an ancient city, still in working order, currently inhabited by the passengers and crew of a luxury liner that had been forced away from its destination by pirates.  One of the passengers, Cummi, an Arcturian,  had been a Vice-Sector Lord at home, and thought he should rule here too.  The Rangers disagree, as do quite a few of the passengers, who take the Patrol's arrival as a signal to topple the Vice-Sector Lord.  However, Cummi manages to telepathically take control of Kartr's mind and forces him to steal the Ranger's sled and take him out of the city. After the revolution succeeds, the city dwellers want nothing to do with any symbols of their old life and the Patrolmen are (politely?) requested to leave.  As Zinga and Fylh rescue Kartr, they also come across a family of Zacathans, Hist-Techneer Zicti and his family.  Together Zicti and Zinga heal Kartr's mind from Cummi's damage.  Kartr then trails Cummi to a village of natives who have degenerated into barbarism and defeats him, at least partly due to Cummi contracting a deadly plague, with which he infects the natives.  The Rangers agree to avoid contact, but to follow the natives to the place they call the Meeting Place of the Gods which turns out to be an old spaceport--also still in working order, and use it to beam in a Patrol ship carrying survivors of a destroyed Patrol Base.  Together the entire group decides to turn their backs on the city and survive as the natives do, until they manage to once again reach for the stars. ~ SL


1953’s The Star Rangers takes us to a First Galactic Empire three thousand years old, just past the point where slow decline becomes rapid collapse. Central Control is no longer so central or so in control but the Patrol remains loyal to its former master. This makes the Patrol an impediment to Imperial functionaries trying to transition from regional bureaucrat to local warlord and so the Vegan registry Patrol ship Starfire finds itself ordered to chart uncharted worlds, a long term exploration mission whose real purpose is to keep the men of the Starfire occupied long enough to be…. ~ JN
Read More ...


KIRKUS REVIEW ~ Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1953
The 80th century A.D. when an impartial rule of galactic systems is disintegrating frames a science fiction story with adult concepts and a catchy theme. Kartr of the loyal Space Patrol crashes on a strange planet where they find that the democracy to which they have been faithful is no more than a shell and that their own chieftain has false ambitions. They explore and settle the new planet which becomes a refuge for others, and as a new and better life unfolds, they learn that the planet is the legendary Terra of the first spacemen. Reptiles and birdmen as well as humans people this and their worlds are a myriad of far-reaching systems, quite imaginatively projected. 


Various reviews ~ For more info and other listings see Articles Over the Years

1953 Kirkus Reviews, August 01
1953 in New York Herald Tribune Book Review, August 23
1953 in Library Journal, September 01
1953 in Booklist, October 01
1953 in Bookmark, October
1953 in San Francisco Chronicle, October 18
1953 by The Editors in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November
1954 by Emory Lewis in Science Fiction Digest, Vol.1 No.1, February
1954 by Groff Conklin in Galaxy Science Fiction, April, reprinted in: (UK) Galaxy Science Fiction #18
1954 by P. Schuyler Miller in Astounding Science Fiction, June, reprinted in: (UK) by P Schuyler Miller ~ Astounding Science Fiction, November
1955 Groff Conklin in Galaxy Science Fiction, July
1955 by P. Schuyler Miller in Astounding Science Fiction, September
1968 in Times Literary Supplement, December 12
1977 by D. Bates in SF&F Newsletter #19 (fnz), March 20
1980 by Spider Robinson in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, February
2014 by James Nicoll, December, 12 Θ
2019 by Judith Tarr at, August 26

See also ~ The Last Planet


Dedications and Acknowledgements ~

For Nan Hanlin, Who also prowls the stars in fiction, if not in fact.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1953) Published by Harcourt Brace, HC, LCCN 53007869, $2.95, 280pg ~ cover by Richard Powers {Gray Cloth Boards}
  • (1953) Published by McLeod, HC, $3.50, 280pg ~ Canadian printing ~ cover by Richard Powers
  • (1968) Published by Gollancz, HC, 0-575-00074-0, £ 18s (216p), 288pg ~ UK printing ~ cover by Alan Breese
  • (1980) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-24076-2, $1.75 ~ cover by Ken Barr
  • (1985) Published by Ballantine Del Rey, PB, 0-345-32308-4, $2.50, 223pg ~ cover by Laurence Schwinger
  • Star Soldiers (2001) Published by BAEN, HC, 0-671-31827-6, $18.00, 434pg ~ cover by Stephen Hickman ~ Omnibus containing Star Guard (1955) & Star Rangers (1953)


Non-English Editions ~

  • (1955) Published in Rastatt, Germany; in Pabel, OCLC: 72941808, Utopia Großband 41, 89pg ~ translation by Fritzheinz van Dorrnick ~ German title Weltraum-Ranger greifen ein
  • (1978) Published in Milan, Italy; by Biblioteca Universale Rizzoli, Fantascienza Junior. Stellar 2000 n. 3, OCLC: 77520346, 190pg ~ translation by Delio Zinoni ~ Italian title Il pianeta degli Dei
  • (1973) Published in Japan; by Hayakawa Bunko, 41-501-0091-8, SF S48, 345pg ~ translation by Sekiguti Yukio ~ cover by Saitou Kazuaki ~ Japanese title 銀河の果ての惑星 ~ reprinted in 1977
  • (1997) Published in Poznań, Poland; by Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 83-861-3863-7, 212pg ~ translation by Włodzimierz Nowaczyk ~ cover by Agentur Luserke ~ Polish title Gwiezdny Zwiad [Stellar Scout]
  • (1957) Published in Argintina; by Fantaciencia, PB, 188pg ~ translated by Eduardo Goligorsky ~ Spanish title La patrulla estelar [Star Patrol]

Russian Omnibus Editions ~

See: The Last Planet


View the Original contract

View the 1978 ACE contract

View the 1983 Copyright renewal app.

View the 2004 Russian contract ~ no publishing data at this time