This was a large-format (approximately A4) softcover book; I don't recall the cover art. It was given to me as a gift by my aunt, so it may have been picked up remaindered and actually date from earlier.

The book was framed as a series of lectures, exercises and tests for Earth recruits who were fighting some aggressive evil empire. I don't remember if they were mind-controlled humans, robots, or generic aliens. The enemy had some Sauron-type figure (dictator, but also the most powerful of them and possibly superhuman) driving them. There were story-like elements in addition to expositional blobs and diagrams, but still an advancing story; by the end of the book the reader is on the Earth flagship fighting the enemy flagship.

Some of the story pieces were slice-of-life descriptions, but I think there may have been a few rescue/adventure pieces like an old-style planetary romance. I may be confusing this with other works, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were an older scientist type and a plucky action girl as supporting characters.

One set of puzzles I recall was "identify this object in zero G" where you were shown an unusual perspective on a common item and asked to identify it; the one I recall most strongly was a point-on view of needle-nose pliers. Another of the puzzles presented a blank field (supposed to be the blackness of space, but not inked to black) scattered with navigation lights, and the reader was asked to determine what ships were present and the likely scenario in progress. Most of these were single-person, but some could be competitive.

The final battle against the enemy was constructed as a 2-player game with alternating turns of blind shot-taking, something like the game Battleship, except that after each shot you found out how much you missed by, and then the other player's ship moved. (Basically after 3 or 4 shots you each knew roughly where your enemy was, and you were chasing one another around, trying to be the first to correctly guess which way the other would move.)

Thinking some more about the game, it was played on a grid, with the ships located at the intersections. When you fired you specified a point, and the targeted player counted how many points away the shot hit (Manhattan metric; x + y) did some pointless calculation involving a spinning disc thing set into the cover of the book and gave the result to the firing player. The firing player reversed the calculation (hence pointless) to get the distance, and plotted the cloud of possible points. Then the targeted player moved along one of the edges to an adjacent point.

So the book had some kind of circular wheel built into the front or back cover.

In terms of art, I recall the human ships being roughly doughnut-shaped or maybe something vaguely like a turtle, while the enemy were far more sleek and wedge-shaped. (Maybe kind of a Star Destroyer look?)

1 Answer 1


I finally found this; it's Star Games (1978) by Jim Razzi, Richard Brightfield and Jack Looney.

Here is the front cover of the book, and you can see the wheel and the windows set into it (the "Galactic Computer"!):

Cover of "Star Games" showing a good-guys fighter facing off against 3 enemy fighters

The big bad is called "The Krakon," some kind of semi-immortal robot leader, who is leading the "Dark Horde" to take over the galaxy, since he destroyed his home galaxy.

The identify objects from unusual angles puzzle:

Space orientation puzzle

The navigation lights puzzle:

Rules for the identify navigation lights puzzle

2 of the navigation lights puzzles

Turtle ships versus Star Destroyer rip-offs:

Good guy and bad guy cruisers fighting it out

There were narrative blobs in the story, and they did involve a scientist-type and his daughter, but they were mostly just baggage and the reader's character was responsible for most of the actions. Some examples:

Now that you have completed SpaceForce training, you are given your first assignment.

Vac Orion, the Terran Republic's leading space anthropologist, and his daughter, Lyra, are aboard the commercial hyperspace starship Vega II heading for the planet Nebib of the Procyon star system, 11.3 light-years from Terra. Both Orion and his daughter are special agents of the SpaceForce and are tracking down a lead on the Dark Horde. You have been ordered to assist them in any way you can and are given Priority 1 Authority.

(Aside: Can you say "influenced by Star Wars?" These guys are wearing white shirts and dark pants with tall boots and dark vests.)

You've tracked the Horde cruiser to the little-known star system of Arcan far out on the edge of the galaxy. Talo Adrian brings the SpaceForce cruiser back into normal space well within the Arcan system. You start a search for the Horde cruiser, but it doesn't show up on the visi-screen or even on space radar. You suspect that it's in synchronous orbit behind one of the ten planets in the system.

Captain Adrian goes into parking orbit around a small planet near-by. You, Quas, Vac, and Lyra go down to reconnoiter.

A bioscan* of the planet indicates no life forms, except primitive plant life that resembles common Terran grass. The place looks peaceful enough from the vantage point of the shuttlecraft, but you arm yourselves with laser hand guns, just in case. Suddenly a blast nearby rocks the shuttlecraft. You look at the viewplate scanner and see a menacing-looking robot bearing down on your position. Then another comes into view, and then you see it's a small army of robots. They are firing their weapons as they come. You tell the others to leave the shuttlecraft quickly, and you all emerge with your lasers blasting.

Back cover

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.