Perry Rhodan

Cover of issue #1 (1961)
Cover of issue #2250 (2004)

Perry Rhodan is the eponymous hero of a German science fiction novel series which has been published each week since 8 September 1961 in the 'Romanhefte' format (digest-sized booklets, usually containing 66 pages, the German equivalent of the now-defunct American Pabel-Moewig Verlag, a subsidiary of Bauer Media Group. As of February 2019, 3000 booklet novels of the original series plus 850 spinoff novels of the sister series Atlan plus over 400 paperbacks and 200 hardcovers have been published, totalling over 300,000 pages. Having sold approximately two billion copies (in novella format) worldwide alone, (including over one billion in Germany), it is the most successful science fiction book series ever written. The first billion of worldwide sales was celebrated in 1986.[1]

The first 126 novels (plus five novels of the spinoff series Atlan) were translated into English and published by Ace Books between 1969 and 1978, with the same translations used for the British edition published by Futura Publications which issued only 39 novels. When Ace cancelled its translation of the series, translator Wendayne Ackerman self-published the following 19 novels (under the business name 'Master Publications') and made them available by subscription only. Financial disputes with the German publishers led to the cancellation of the American translation in 1979.

An attempt to revive the series in English was made in 1997–1998 by Vector Publications of the US which published translations of four issues (1800–1803) from the current storyline being published in Germany at the time.

The series and its spin-offs have captured a substantial fraction of the original German science fiction output and exert influence on many German writers in the field.[citation needed] The series is told in an arc storyline structure. An arc—called a "cycle"[2]—would have anywhere from 25 to 100 issues devoted to it, similar subsequent cycles are referred to as a "grand-cycle".[3]

Matthias Rust, the then-19 year old aviator who landed his Cessna 172 aircraft on the Red Square in Moscow in 1987, has cited Perry Rhodan's adventures as his main inspiration to penetrate Soviet airspace.[4]


‘Perry Rhodan, der Erbe des Universums’ (Eng: ‘The Heir to the Universe’, though the American/British editions instead used the subtitle 'Peacelord of the Universe') was created by German science fiction authors K. H. Scheer and Walter Ernsting and launched in 1961 by German publishing house Arthur Moewig Verlag (now Pabel-Moewig Verlag). Originally planned as a 30 to 50 volume series, it has been published continuously every week since, reaching more than 2,950 issues as of March 2018. Written by an ever-changing team of authors, many of whom, however, remained with the series for decades or life, Perry Rhodan is issued in weekly novella-size installments in the traditional German Heftroman (pulp booklet) format. Unlike most German Heftromane Perry Rhodan consists not of unconnected novels but is a series with a continuous, increasingly complex plotline, with frequent back references to events. In addition to its original Heftroman form, the series now also appears in hardcovers, paperbacks, e-books, comics and audiobooks.

Over the decades there have also been comic strips, numerous collectibles, several encyclopedias, audio plays, inspired music, etc. The series has seen partial translations into several languages. It also spawned the 1967 movie Mission Stardust (aka …4 …3 …2 …1 …morte),[5] which is widely considered so terrible that many fans of the series pretend it never existed.[6][7][8]

Coinciding with the 50th-anniversary World Con, on 30 September 2011, a new series named Perry Rhodan Neo began publication, attracting new readers with a reboot of the story, starting in the year 2036 instead of 1971,[9] and a related but independent story-line.

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