Read The Pirates of Ersatz by Murray Leinster Online


This science fiction novel - an early version of Leinster's The Pirates of Zan - was originally published in Astounding Science Fiction under the editorship of the legendary John W. Campbell, Jr....

Title : The Pirates of Ersatz
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 5730659
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 165 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Pirates of Ersatz Reviews

  • Debbie Zapata
    2018-08-25 21:10

    What do you do if you are from a planet famous for its pirates, but you would rather play with electronics? Well, you unconsciously absorb all your Grandfather's pirate wisdom until you are old enough to be on your own, then you go off to another planet and start working on the Master Plan for your life: (a) to achieve splendid things as an electronic engineer, (b) to grow satisfactorily rich, (c) to marry a delightful girl, and (d) end life a great man.But when do Master Plans ever run smoothly? Our hero Bron Hoddan has a problem that is not compatible with Civilized Society: he has a brain and he knows how to use it. He can't help it if Civilized Society doesn't want him to use his brain. But that is where his trouble begins. Hoddan is an endearing combination of Jimmy Stewart naiveness (things seem to happen to him without his being aware of quite why) and James Cagney tough guy (he knows just how to handle himself when these things happen, he never panics. Well, okay, maybe just a little that one time.)On his newly adopted civilized planet, he created a receptor that would save the Power Company millions in credits but they are not interested in allowing him to give a demonstration so (here comes Cagney) he breaks into the Power plant and attaches his device anyway. But the next morning the police are at his door and he reverts to Jimmy Stewart. And the situation spirals out of control from this point on. This late 1950's story was interesting, with bits of sarcastic wisdom tucked here and there. For example, here is what the Interstellar Ambassador tells Hoddan: You proposed to improve a technical process in a society which considers itself beyond improvement. If you'd succeeded, the idea of change would have spread, people now poor would have gotten rich, people now rich would have gotten poor, and you'd have done what all governments are established to prevent.Or this, when Hoddan (in Cagney mode) has kidnapped a few soldiers to use as a pirate crew: When men are to be led it is rarely wise to discuss policy or tactics with them. Most men work best when they know only what is expected of them. Then they can't get confused and they do not get ideas of how to do things better.I had the distinct feeling that Leinster was commenting on the high muckety-mucks of his day, and enjoying himself while doing so. This was the second or maybe third Leinster story I've read, and it won't be the last.

  • Kevin
    2018-09-18 02:34

    This Hugo nominated novel is a lot of fun, it didn't win the Hugo, neither did the other nominees "The Sirens of Titan" and "Dorsai!" they all lost out to "Starship Troopers", a pretty nice group of novels for 1959. I'd decided to read it in celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day 2017, so a few days later I had time to read it. The beginning is decidedly pirate free but the fast moving story doesn't take too long to get to the pirates. I've never seen pirates such as these and the way they turn a profit while saving galactic civilization is highly entertaining.

  • Timothy Ferguson
    2018-09-19 21:31

    A short novella of a very early type: the monsters on the new world are giant Earth creatures created by a failed terraforming project. Interesting to those who like the tropes of the Rocket Age, but a problematic text in many ways. Why is the female crewman in charge of cleaning the rocket? I was kind of hoping, since she was the love interest, that Crewman Carol was going to turn out to be a Polish man, like the recent Pope also named Carol. Alas, the twist was that even in the future, the love of a good woman, a large sum of money, and a convenient rocket will make any criminal good.This review originally appeared on book coasters

  • Brian Greiner
    2018-09-01 21:13

    Great fun! One of the classics that I've read a number of times over the decades (yah, I'm old), and have enjoyed it every time. It holds up well over the years, unlike a lot of other books.It is a classic Leinster book, so if you don't like his style then you won't like this. Not laugh-out-loud funny, but certainly a light-hearted romp. What saves it, I think, is Leinster's wry humour and clear insights into people and societies.

  • Marts(Thinker)
    2018-09-04 23:28

    Planetary adventure, as Bron Hoddan attempts to runaway from his native planet of Zan, where his relatives are to be executed...He escapes to the planet Walden hoping to establish himself as an electrical engineer but then one day the police come looking for him...

  • Sean Brennan
    2018-09-15 18:18

    This is a great little story, very reminiscent of Vance albeit without the eloquence of Jack's love of language, highly recommended.

  • Emily
    2018-08-31 02:21

    This science fiction pulp story really shows its age. Originally published in 1959, this story is about an electrical engineer, trying to make an honest living, and being sucked back into the ways of his space pirate family. He is dashing and clever, slyly tricks the wealthy into giving him their loot, and gets the girl to fall in love with him without even trying. I found the story plodding and flat. The characters were barely even caricatures, let alone fleshed out people with personalities, motivations or feelings.It is available to read for free on Project Gutenberg ( A gender-swappable version is available at the Gendered Text Project (

  • Simon Hedge
    2018-08-28 01:32

    This story started life as 'The Pirates of Ersatz', serialized in 'Astounding Science Fiction' in 1959. It was collected into a novel, and appeared in an 'Ace Double' with 'The Mutant Weapon' in the same year. In 1989 it was released as a stand-alone novel, and this is the version I have.The story concerns one Bron Hoddan, born on the planet Zan, where everyone is a space pirate. However, Bron seeks a life of challenges and excitement in the world of engineering, so moves to Walden - the most civilized and advanced planet in that part of space. He develops a new kind of generator that could save the planet millions, but finds the powers-that-be so resistant to change that he is even framed for a murder, and has to flee the planet. He goes to Darth, a primitive place with a feudal society. He gets slightly in with the local chief by saving his daughter from a fate worse than death, but when a deposition from Walden comes looking for him, he steals their spaceship and leaves. By the most incredible coincidence, a fleet arrives in orbit full of people from the planet of Colin, headed to the planet Thetis to avoid some kind of persecution ( I don't recall what). They've just discovered all the equipment they brought along to help settle Thetis is a load of rubbish (apparently no one thought to open a box before they left). Bron brings out his natural space-pirate skills to help them out, then in a series of interlinked events manages to empower the refugee fleet, make himself and the Darth people very rich, completely overturn the nature of Walden, and make amends with his family from Zan. Oh, and get the girl of course.So quite a trivial story, and fairly trivial characters too. Bron starts out almost as some kind of Kafka-esque protagonist, completely baffled by the events that propel him... but before long he's winning fights against insurmountable odds, ordering people around, and navigating through space by the seat of his pants (even at super-luminal speeds - he literally travels between stars just by eyeballing it). So he maybe has an arc of sorts. Everyone else really is just a sketch.The science is likewise trivialized. Bron comes up with amazing engineering breakthroughs several times, but it is all done with Star Trek Next Gen style hand-waving and mumbo jumbo, and FTL travel is purely a matter of going really fast, with no other effects at all.If there is a theme to the book, it is maybe about freedom of choice, with a few characters making pronouncements on the subject early on, but it soon boils down to plain old high adventure.So its no work of art, but its very short, very easy to read. Brainless fun.

  • Lawrence
    2018-09-07 01:26

  • Herman Gigglethorpe
    2018-09-04 21:17

    The Pirates of Ersatz features a protagonist who never fit in with piracy or civilized society. He tries to impress a girl and improve electronic engineering on the staid planet Walden. (Why is it called Walden if the people aren't Transcendentalist?) Instead, he is blamed for an accidental death and has to flee to a feudal planet full of bloodthirsty customs about honor and looting. He is tricked into fighting for the cunning Lady Fani, and he succeeds, though he accidentally gives away her father's secret plans concerning a monopoly on stun guns.Eventually he assists a group of colonists who fell for a scam, and launches a raid on Walden. Walden is so boring that people throw treasure at him because the pirate attack is the first interesting thing that has happened to this planet. They get a spark of creativity and write stories about piracy. Nedda turns out to be sickeningly nice, and the hero settles down with the more interesting Fani.Take a drink every time the phrase "said [blank]ly" is used, since Leinster is a bit too fond of adverbs. Another issue is the Harry Turtledove-style repetition. Yes, we KNOW the hero wants to marry Nedda, now shut up about it. We KNOW the residents of Walden need tranquilizers to stay sane. Even with its flaws, it's a decent book. It's on Project Gutenberg for free! :)

  • Jim
    2018-09-16 21:05

    It was not mere impulsive action when Bron Hoddan started for the planet Walden by stowing away on a ship that had come to his native planet to hang all his relatives. He'd planned it long before. It was a long-cherished and carefully worked out scheme. He didn't expect the hanging of his relatives, of course. He knew that they'd act grieved and innocent, and give proof that they were simple people leading blameless lives. They'd make their would-be executioners feel ashamed and apologetic for having thought evil of them, and as soon as the strangers left they'd return to their normal way of life, which was piracy. But while this was going on, Bron Hoddan stowed away on the menacing vessel. Presently he arrived at its home world. But his ambition was to reach Walden, so he set about getting there. It took a long time because he had to earn ship-passage from one solar system to another, but he held to his idea. Walden was the most civilized planet in that part of the galaxy. On Walden, Hoddan intended, in order (a) to achieve splendid things as an electronic engineer, (b) to grow satisfactorily rich, (c) to marry a delightful girl, and (d) end his life a great man. But he had to spend two years trying to arrange even the first.

  • Gary Holt
    2018-09-06 01:25

    One of the best of Murray Leinster in my opinion. It's got the classic Leinster hero who's a very smart engineer, turns out to be surprisingly good at manipulating people, takes bold and clever action, but can be a bit clueless about people at times. (And those are the times you are snickering at him.)This book has some of Leinster's best social satire--at times approaching even the Retief books by Keith Laumer, but with a much lighter touch. It also has a pretty good plot: a brilliant engineer finds society not receptive to his world-changing inventions, so he goes off to change another world. Along the way, he saves several other worlds.I think this book is enjoyable for a wide range of ages. My boys (7 and 10) loved it, and so did I.The very light and fluffy romance feels dated and stereotypical for early science fiction (i.e., its stereotypes would be offensive if released today), so you have to appreciate it as a piece of period fiction. That's not really an integral part of the story, though.By the way, this story is also known as "The Pirates of Zan", and you can buy it under that name too. I have no idea why he called it the Pirates of Ersatz originally, because (unless I missed it) that name does not appear in the book, but Zan does.

  • Richard
    2018-09-21 01:28

    I read the original "The Pirates of Ersatz" version and thought it very weak. The characters are flat, the science is irrelevant, and worst of all, the writing is clumsy: adverbs abound, word choice is careless and repetitive. Never have I seen more characters "seem to look almost peevishly" at someone. The loose plot ties up a little at the end, but not enough to save the novel. The main character comes across as a Candide-type without the charm. There were elements of satire but it's hard to make fun of something when the source is so laughable. I'm told Leinster's short stories are superior to his novels, but I think I've had enough. I think two stars is a bit high, but I'll cut the book some slack because of its age.

  • João Sousa
    2018-09-17 23:26

    It is often said that you can not be a fan of Murray Leinster and Ivan Efremov at the same time as they represent completely different types of fiction.I am a fan of Efremov."The Pirates of Zan" (or "Erzatz") never really develops any of its characters, and these soulless beings wonder in a simple plot until it eventually reaches some kind of climax. And that's it.

  • Libromaniac
    2018-08-25 19:15

    Both an old fashioned space opera, and a cutting satire, Murray Leinster's The Pirates of Ersatz can be enjoyed on multiple levels. Thrill to tales of space piracy, smile wryly at the follies of men, nod sagely as Mr. Leinster elucidates the underpinnings of economics. An enjoyable and thought provoking read from a time when men were men, and women were NOT to be trifled with.

  • Jesi
    2018-08-28 22:20

    I actually really enjoyed this book, and would suggest that everyone who enjoys humorous sci-fi to read it. But, it's not Great Literature, which is why I'm only giving it three stars. It's light, fluffy reading and enjoyable.

  • stormie
    2018-09-16 01:22

    what a fun, tongue in cheek story! it was an enjoyable light read. i especially liked the end of it, wherein the pirates are basically rock stars, photobombing in pictures and having girls shrieking over them. hilarious.

  • _
    2018-09-21 02:05

    Read as part of the A Logic Named Joe Collection.

  • Nick
    2018-09-12 19:16

    A little slow to get going so don't give up too soon. If you have liked his other books this one will probably work for you too.

  • Jeffrey
    2018-08-22 02:23

    Cute, funny and an easy read

  • JT
    2018-09-04 21:19

    As classic as classic gets. Leinster doesn't get the sort of love Heinlein or Asimov or Clarke do, but he deserves it.

  • Jeff Crosby
    2018-09-05 23:26

    Engaging 1950s space opera from one of the more popular authors of the era. This novel is not as clever as Leinster's Med Ship stories, but it is a short, light read.

  • Jennifer Hargrove
    2018-09-06 02:16

    It was a good book, cute, but ended too abruptly. Alot of the sentence structure was werid and hard to read.

  • Joe Osborne
    2018-09-02 02:21