The article explores the thus far most popular German dime novel series which continuously has been published weekly since 1961 and reached hundreds of thousands of readers as archive of societal self-reflection and cultural self-positioning of its readers.
The complexity and continuity of the series and its since the beginnings very accessible reception in letters from readers, fanzines, wikis, online forums firstly allow this article fundamental corrections on the principles of mass culture and popular culture research, and secondly enable the investigation of the political of the society which is observed by the series for more than 56 years now, not only by means of the dime novels and its references but likewise on the basis of the intensive controversies about the political of the ever contemporary context and the political of the series Perry Rhodan itself, which can be verified by the readers’ letters column, wikipedia article discussions, posts and comments. Exploring the novel series praxeologically, the paper provides a first insight into the complex pratices of reading and appropriation of Perry Rhodan, disproving the common assumption of the Perry Rhodan-reading public as reactionary, one-dimensional, or fascist.
The main hypothesis is: The series observes the political of the society and it provokes, as can be shown in the debates of the online-forums, observations of the political of the society. The paper shows how both authors and readers put their political self-understanding under scrutiny and in jeopardy in diverse wikis, forums, and platforms whereby the Perry Rhodan research gives an extraordinary and - in view of the popularity of the series and the quantity of testimonies of reception - significant insight in the struggles about coherent self-descriptions of the society and its common grounds.