Nerd Culture

The Perfect Reading List for Nik Turner's Space Ritual

Roger Zelazny's masterpiece about futuristic Hindu gods and Buddhist aliens was one of Hawkwind's first  lyrical inspirations.
Roger Zelazny's masterpiece about futuristic Hindu gods and Buddhist aliens was one of Hawkwind's first lyrical inspirations. Courtesy of Orion Books.

Prepare to take a ride on a silver machine with the D-Rider himself, former Hawkwind saxophonist Nik Turner. The space rock legend celebrates The Space Ritual at the Rebel Lounge on Monday, November 6.

And you are born to go. You’ve got your orgone accumulator and you know what to do in case of sonic attack. But space is so empty, and once you’ve left this world and are heading down through the night, you’ll need something to keep occupied as the seconds to forever tick down.

Fortunately, Hawkwind has the perfect reading list built into its discography.

Turner and his former band mates Dave Brock, the late Robert Calvert and even the late Lemmy, drew heavy inspiration from the new wave of sci-fi that was burgeoning when Hawkwind was leading free festival freak-outs in the early 1970s.
The band even enlisted pulp fantasy author Michael Moorcock to write lyrics and read poetry during their Space Ritual tour. The band hit it off so well with Moorcock he even wrote a novel about them, The Time of the Hawklords.


So here is a list of essential reading for all you wannabe psychedelic warlords and urban guerillas. Sadly, several are out of print or only available as imports or on specialty imprints, but remember, do not panic! Tracking these titles down shouldn't be difficult for masters of the universe. You are welcome.

click to enlarge Roger Zelazny's masterpiece about futuristic Hindu gods and Buddhist aliens was one of Hawkwind's first  lyrical inspirations. - COURTESY OF ORION BOOKS.
Roger Zelazny's masterpiece about futuristic Hindu gods and Buddhist aliens was one of Hawkwind's first lyrical inspirations.
Courtesy of Orion Books.
Lord of Light
By Roger Zelazny
Zelazny’s masterpiece is the story of a future society on an alien planet where the crew of a stranded spaceship has achieved immortality through a sort of mind-transfer reincarnation. Eventually these immortal crewman assume godlike aspects inspired by Hinduism until one crewman rejects his godhood and becomes a Buddha-like figure to the subjugated aliens. Hawkwind’s song of the same name is featured on 1972's Doremi Fasi Latido and the live epic, Space Ritual.

click to enlarge Hawkwind's groundbreaking live album, The Space Ritual, featured readings of Michael Moorcock's poetry. - COURTESY OF PARLOPHONE RECORDS.
Hawkwind's groundbreaking live album, The Space Ritual, featured readings of Michael Moorcock's poetry.
Courtesy of Parlophone Records.
The Black Corridor
By Michael Moorcock

Moorcock’s 1969 space opera tells the story of a man so disillusioned with humanity that he steals a starship and heads into deep space. The novel inspired the song "Space Is Deep" on Doremi Fasi Latido, which was performed in conjunction with a reading from the novel on The Space Ritual. Out of print now, the novella is available as an import in the collection Travelling to Utopia.

click to enlarge J.G. Ballard's classic High Rise follows the decay of humanity and society, encapsulated in a decaying apartment building. - COURTESY OF DOUBLEDAY BOOKS.
J.G. Ballard's classic High Rise follows the decay of humanity and society, encapsulated in a decaying apartment building.
Courtesy of Doubleday Books.
High Rise
By J.G. Ballard

Ballard's dizzying novel about the decay of society, mirrored in the decay of a high-rise apartment building, may be more recently recognized from the film starring Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston, but Hawkwind adapted the novel first, on its 1979 album PXR5.


The first album without Nik Turner, Quark, Strangeness and Charm sported a hypnotic, punk-inspired sound, but still featured lyrics inspired by sci-fi. - COURTESY ATOMHENGE RECORDS.
The first album without Nik Turner, Quark, Strangeness and Charm sported a hypnotic, punk-inspired sound, but still featured lyrics inspired by sci-fi.
Courtesy Atomhenge Records.
Damnation Alley
By Roger Zelazny

You may know this story from the George Peppard B-movie filmed at Meteor Crater, but Zelazny’s novel about a trucking crew dodging mutant giant scorpions to deliver a life-saving serum across a post apocalyptic American wasteland also inspired a song of the same name on Hawkwind’s 1977 album, Quark, Strangeness and Charm.

click to enlarge Asimov's three laws of robotics were first codified in this short story collection from 1942. - COURTESY OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE BOOKS.
Asimov's three laws of robotics were first codified in this short story collection from 1942.
Courtesy of Penguin Random House Books.
I, Robot
By Isaac Asimov

Asimov's laws of robotics have influenced generations of sci-fi since he conceived them in the short story, "Runaround" in 1942. Hawkwind drew inspiration from the three laws for Robot from P.X.R.5.

click to enlarge Lemmy's last album with Hawkwind, Warrior on the Edge of Time, was also heavily inspired by Moorcock, featuring his poetry, as well as his lyrics to the minor hit, Kings of Speed. - COURTESY ATOMHENGE RECORDS.
Lemmy's last album with Hawkwind, Warrior on the Edge of Time, was also heavily inspired by Moorcock, featuring his poetry, as well as his lyrics to the minor hit, Kings of Speed.
Courtesy Atomhenge Records.
The Dancers at the End of Time
By Michael Moorcock

Another concept of Moorcock’s that figures deeply in Hawkwind’s work is the Eternal Champion — a hero who manifests in different incarnations throughout time and space. This concept deeply infused Hawkwind’s 1975 album, Warrior at the Edge of Time, influencing tracks like Assault and Battery and The Golden Void. Moorcock would later revisit some of those lyrical themes with another spaced-out rock band, Blue Oyster Cult.

click to enlarge Roger Zelazny's magical rogue Jack of Shadows dances between light and dark, weilding the magic of shadow. - COURTESY OF CHICAGO REVIEW PRESS.
Roger Zelazny's magical rogue Jack of Shadows dances between light and dark, weilding the magic of shadow.
Courtesy of Chicago Review Press.
Jack of Shadows
By Roger Zelazny

Another classic from the late Zelazny, Jack of Shadows is set on a world where half is in perpetual darkness and half in light. Magic rules the dark side and science the light. The title character is the most powerful magician on the planet, but only when he dwells on the borders of light and dark. Hawkwind immortalized him on PXR5.

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Michael runs the Sci-Fridays Book Club at the Poisoned Pen, and volunteers at local pop-culture conventions. He can be found at the occasional prog-rock concert.
Contact: Michael Senft