Police Your Planet is an odd thing. Nominally a police story set on Mars, it goes beyond hard boiled and well into brutal. The narrator is a man of ideals, but they’re oddly flexible – at times he sticks to what he believes is right, other times he goes along to get along. If going along means beating people up, so be it.
The policing part – and the narrator’s morals – were interesting, but the treatment of the feisty woman is another matter. Even allowing for original publication in 1953, the woman is anachronistic at best. She’s tough, and hates our narrator, but goes along easily enough in a formal marriage, and, yes, suddenly realizes she loves him after he starts telling her what to do. That’s a bit of an unfair compression of events, but the gist is there. Toward the end, she suddenly declares that maybe she doesn’t have to be a failure as a woman – which, until that point, had never entered my mind.
I enjoyed aspects of this, including the ambiguous morality, but the romantic element felt loosely stapled on – not credible and a little past the verge of offensive. I’ve liked Lester Del Rey, but here perhaps writing under a pseudonym led him astray. If you’re new to Del Rey, don’t start here.