Flashback Fridays: Cat-tostrophic Space Adventure!

Before LOL cats, or Nyan cat . . .there were other cats out there.  Cats of fiction who did amazing things like travel through space as adventurers.  Cats named things like . . . Spacebread.

Chances are you probably haven’t heard of Spacebread.  (And no it’s not a type of bread for outerspace!) Unless you happened to be a science fiction reading kid around the early 80’s,  you probably haven’t seen these on the library shelves or even found them on the shelves of used bookstores.  The two stories involving this swashbuckling cat adventuress from the stars have been out of print for quite a while and have  almost fallen into complete obscurity.     I encountered these in my hungry exploration of the library shelves for something new to read.  Something fun, something with spaceships and adventure.  These stories were perfect.  And I’ve never forgotten them over the years.

So for this Flashback Friday, I bring you Oscar Steven Senn’s Spacebread (Atheneum, 1981) and Born of Flame (Atheneum 1982).

Spacebread, notorious cat adventuress with a nose for trouble travels to the planet Ralph in search of her stolen belt buckle.  But dark forces are at work on Ralph, enslaving the population–and it’s going to be up to Spacebread to save the day!  

Spacebread has grown fond of her traveling companion, an alien figlet named Klimmet.  But when her nose for trouble manages to seriously wound her friend, she’ll have to go on the adventure of a lifetime and seek out the mysterious planet of Osghan for a way to save her friend’s life.

Falling somewhere between Science Fiction and Fantasy, these stories could be considered Space Opera, or perhaps Science Fantasy.  Like the Star Wars universe, everything happens far, far away from anything to do with Earth or Earthlings, so imaginative worlds and landscapes can run wild.  If you prefer your science fiction logical and extrapolated from current tech, then anthropomorphic cats and swashbuckling fights set amid spaceships and planets may not exactly be your cup of tea.  I’ve never minded the blend.  Spacebread was a breath of fresh air in my reading adventures.  While I found some strong heroines  in sword and sorcery fantasy, I didn’t find too many kick-butt, take the lead types in my science fiction stories at the time.  Spacebread is an unapologetic heroine that I could enjoy.

Oscar Steven Senn (Steve Senn on the original books) is an artist as well as a writer.  He created the covers for both of these novels, and I tend to think they’re fairly good stuff. I’ve included images of the full cover spreads below–they’re a little blurry, but they are the best I’ve got.  Senn wrote a few other science fiction and fantasy books for kids before turning to focus on his art and honing his talents in that direction.  Most of the information I have on the author comes from blogger  Book ’em Bob.

The bad news these books have been out of print for a a  long time–and they never came out in paperback editions.  You can still find used copies out there–but they aren’t plentiful  I have managed to gain copies, but they aren’t in particularly good shape.  The good news is that in the process of writing this post I have discovered that all of Senn’s books for kids appear to be out now for the Kindle.  I’m glad to see them, honestly, as I’d hate these books to fall into a black hole of forgotten fiction.

Of course not ever cat enjoys intergalactic space travel . . . .

What are your favorite out of print gems?

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About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on May 17, 2013, in Flashback Fridays, General Posts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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