Some books end to quickly. Others seem to never end. The Colors of Space falls into the former category. Too soon, the story came to a conclusion, though I think that might have been good. The story would either be a short story (this was) or a very long story, but couldn’t have been anything else.
Marion Bradley had an interesting premise: an eighth color that held the key to the stars. As the story develops, you learn that humans have found a second stellar race called the Lharie. The Lharie can travel faster than light and they guard this power jealously. Bart Steele (the lead) finds himself quickly thrown into a plot (against his will) to steal this knowledge for humans. The conspirators mostly desire to be on equal footing with the Lharie instead of reliant upon the Lharie for travel and communications. I say mostly, because the unequal footing and protectionism of the Lharie have promoted racial bigotry and distrust.
The Lharie cannot see colors and rely on humans to help pilot their great vessels. But, the Lharie have perpetrated a great fraud: no human can survive faster than light travel without being placed into cold sleep. So, the Lharie use humans where they can and then put them away to protect their power. Bart finds himself undercover on a Lharie ship attempting to prove that humans can survive the jump while remaining conscious. Through this Bart exploits the greatest weakness of the Lharie: their inability to see colors.
One could easily place the writing of this story: the 1960’s. The major point of the book was to demonstrate that all races are equal even if they have minor differences in appearance. Bradley does a pretty good job of making this appear natural and unforced. Definitely a pleasure to read.
Several caveats. First, there was very mild profanity. Second, and more importantly, I cannot and will not recommend Bradley as an author to read extensively. When preparing for this review, I did a quick check to see when the story was written. What I discovered was an author who wrote homosexual literature under a pseudonym (though she was married when she wrote them), promoted feminism, worshiped the divine femininity and wrapped it all together as a priest in the Gnostic Catholic Church. Wrap all of that together and one should be careful which of her books to read. This one was OK; I can’t speak to the rest.