OLAF STAPLEDON'S vision of
Special Interview with
Edgar Rice Burroughs
A SOVIET VIEW OF
HOW 'WONDER STORIES' BEGAN
Mr. Shaver and the
JOHN BEYNON asks:
FANTASY BOOK REVIEWS
AMONG THE MAGAZINES
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Science fiction has been praised, ridiculed, and even lightly condemned in the past on the ground of its "morbidity" or sheer fantasy. But never before has it been thoroughly denounced as monstrous propaganda, a tool of the reactionary forces seeking to enslave mankind, which yet reveals the dreadful doom in store for the world-or most of it. This remarkable article, which appeared in a recent issue of a Soviet literary journal, is another instance of the notice fantasy-fiction is attracting on all sides, even behind the Iron Curtain. We reproduce it here*, with all its invective, as a reflection of quite a new attitude to this literature.
*Condensed from "The World of Nightmare Fantasies," by Victor Bolkhovitinov and Vassilij Zakhartchenko, published in the Literaturnaya Gazyeta.
it finds the child normal, it returns it to the arms of the waiting mother. If it finds a future "superman," the mother will never see him again; he will be sent to a world "parallel" to ours where he will be raised without the help of parents. But woe to the baby the machine finds defectiveit will be immediately destroyed. According to the "scientific" forecast of author Jones, a network of such machines will cover the world of the future.
* Although this article appeared only recently, most of the stories mentioned were published four or five years ago, during the war when, if they had any propagandist tendency at all, it Was more likely to be anti-Fascist.Ed.
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unknown planet to look for hidden pirate treasure. In a story by Eric Frank Russell, "The Secret of Mr. Wiesel," there is an ecstatic description of the adventures of a spy from Mars.
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through all science fiction literature, in spite of a show of bravado on the part of its authors. The reader is presented with scenes of a world reverting to a wilderness and of the destruction of civilisation. The revelations appearing in this delirium of unbridled fantasy, poorly concealed by the label of "science," vividly betray the incurable disease of the capitalistic system. The hacks supplying the fantastic drivel feel this, and try to present the doom of capitalism as that of the world. But all their endeavours are in vain; their nauseating, evil ravings cannot fool the peoples of the world who believe in progress and the bright future of humanity.
Editor SAM MERWIN says
AUTHORS HAVE A POWER COMPLEX
Are science fiction writers-and readers-too much concerned with imaginary dictators and the struggle for power on this and other planets? Sam Merwin, Science Fiction Editor of Standard Magazines, considers the point in the current issue of 'Thrilling Wonder Stories,' from which we extract his comments as pertinent to the Soviet analysis.
In the next issue The Lackeys of Wall Street By ARTHUR C. CLARKE A reply to the Soviets.
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Willy Ley, now in Hollywood, combined with Astounding cover artist Chesley Bonestell in new book for Viking Press, to incorporate 70 pictures (20 in colour) of astronomical-astronautical interest . . . Second, expanded edition of "The Lungfish, (the Dodo) and the Unicorn," Ley's "excursion into romantic zoology" (Viking, New York: $3.75), reviewed by Time: "Big-Game Hunter Ley has returned from safari. Having tracked his prey through the dank undergrowth of large public libraries, he has put his trophies on exhibition" . . . Veteran archeologist-science fictionist A. Hyatt Verrill does likewise in "Strange Prehistoric Monsters and Their Stories" (Page, Boston: $3.75), which has reference to legendary sea-serpents, dragons . . . Marjorie Nicholson's "Voyages to the Moon" lectures on early interplanetary adventures, delivered last year at Toronto University, presented in volume form by Macmillan of Canada . . . "Boys Will Be Boys," by E. S. Turner (Michael Joseph, 10/6), reviewing history of penny dreadfuls, has chapter on pseudo-scientific thrillers mentioning Astounding, Captain Future . . .
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THOMAS SHERIDAN commences
THE STORY OF 'WONDER'
Gernsback's Science Fiction Mission
Of the three American science fiction pulps whose files cover more than a single shelf in the reader-collector's store cupboard, almost 20-years-old Wonder Stories has had the most chequered, and therefore most interesting, career. Since it was started by Hugo Gernsback, after three years of nursing Amazing through its teething troubles, it has changed its title twice, its format three times, its price four, and has borne the imprint of five different publishing companies. [Actually, the magazine has had only two publishers, the other imprints belonging to subsidiary companies (e.g., Beacon Magazines, Better Publications, which are connected with Standard Magazines, Inc.)] Once, for a brief but agonising period, it disappeared from the news-stands altogether, to be revived and remodelled by the firm which has developed it as Thrilling Wonder, and as the most consistently popular of the fantasy publications catering for a general readership as well as a fan following. ' Always the element of adventure in its stories has been more noticeable than the science; the fantastic atmosphere more important than the writing. At times its literary standards have sunk to a dismal low; during the war years it presented a dull round of pure hackwork while it pandered to the most juvenile instincts. But of recent months it has developed a surprising maturity, both in its stories and its editorial slant, which now assumes an attitude of amused tolerance towards those of its readers whose keen interest shows in their childish expostulations of approval or condemnation.
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issue reflected the growing interest in astronautics which Editor Lasser encouraged further by doing the first English book on the subject, ["The. Conquest of Space" (Penguin Books, New York, '31; Hurst & Blackett, London, '32)] in the shape of a serialised, expurgated translation of "The Problems of Space Flying," by the German engineer writing as Captain Hermann Noordung (July-Sep., '29).
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weighed in with his detective "Taine of San Francisco," and such practised fantasy writers as R. F. Starzl, Ralph Milne Farley and Otis Adelbert Kline, augmented by newcomers Jones, Eshbach and Repp, did their best to give the mag. a semi-fantastic flavour. But in spite of vanishing criminals, safecracking robots, lie detectors, and an essay by Clark Ashton Smith into "Murder in the Fourth Dimension" (Oct., '30), Amazing Detective Tales, as it became with its sixth issue, faded after a few more into science fiction's limbo of almost-forgotten things, leaving readers' demands for interplanetary crooks unsatisfied pro tern.
(To be continued)
Among The Magazines with KENNETH SLATER
With a cover by Cartier and 14 stories representing all types of fantasy, the anxiously awaited magazine anthology From Unknown Worlds brings back all the fascinations of our erstwhile pet pulp in its large-size issues. Though the paper on which it is printed may disappoint collectors, there are some good interior pics. and the contents have been well selected. Feature novel is "The Enchanted Week-End," by John MacCormac; there are two novelette s-Sprague de Camp's "Nothing in the Rules" and Anthony Boucher's "The Compleat Werewolf"-shorts by Robert Bloch, Henry Kuttner, Theodore Sturgeon, E. A. Grosser and others. All in all, a good 25c.-worth, which we trust may produce such howls of delight that Street and Smith will let us have our pet back for keeps. Meanwhile, for those to whom its contents are new, there is still the British Reprint Edition, which is well worth a shilling every quarter.
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Alexander M. Phillips' "The Martian Gesture."
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OLAF STAPLEDON'S fantasy on the
MEN OF THE SPACE AGE
What Shall We Do With the Planets ?
Since its reorganisation two years ago, the British Interplanetary Society has taken itself more seriously than it did in pre-war days, when its membership was smaller and derived almost entirely from the ranks of science fiction fandom. Then, genial Professor A. M. Low, who combined the presidencies of the B.I.S. and the Science Fiction Association with perfect congruity, repeatedly pronounced it all "great fun." To-day, the overwhelming number of B.I.S. supporters consists of practical-minded aeronautical engineers and scientific students seriously concerned with the development of the rocket as a means of exploring extra-terrestrial regions, if not to carry space-suited heroes to the Moon or Mars. Though there are still some among them, even on its Council, whose enthusiasm takes a philosophical or literary form, the avowed "non-technical" member who has always been a thorn in its flesh now takes a back seat in deference to the general desire that the organisation shall attain, if it can, the respectable status of a learned society.
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"PUT EARTH STRAIGHT FIRST"
Discarding the formal, 5,000-word paper he had carefully prepared for the occasion,* the 62-years-old university lecturer who had packed into a single volume his startling conceptions of man's gradual evolution over the next two thousand million years, and who in a later book, "Star Maker," attempted an imaginative exploration of the whole Cosmcs, approached his airy subject with a fine appreciation of the common man's attitude to space-travel. He showed the reasonableness of the question why we should want to colonise other worlds when we had got our own in such a hideous mess; the irony of a situation where we were faced with the prospect of destroying all life on Earth just when there was the possibility of getting to other planets. He remarked, caustically, that an interest in astronautics might be construed as "sheer escapism" in a very literal sense.
* Published in the Journal of the B.I.S., Nov. '48 issue.
still disunited we would merely extend the field of our rivalries and exploit the planets for our own purposes. If we were united, we would only explore them, from the same motive of sheer adventure which animated the old explorers.
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to alien environments. Starting with the Tibetans, who were used to a cold arid climate, we might evolve a race of beings who could live on Mars and like it. If we could produce a suitable atmosphere on Jupiter, we might even populate that planet with an intelligent, quasi-human race; and he painted a grotesque picture of a small, sturdy-legged quadruped with its brain-pan in the small of its back, its eyes on stalks like a snail's, and its hands at the ends of two fine trunks extending from what once had been its nose.
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MR. SHAVER FLINGS SOME
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|About Books* by JOHN BEYNON
WHY BLAME WELLS?
*Under this heading, we shall publish general dissertations on fantasy books, new and old. John Beynon, well-known as an author and critic with a long experience of this field, will contribute frequently to this feature. Here he has something to say about the development of magazine science fiction, for which Wells is usually held responsible-but perhaps we have misjudged him?
There was always a considerable school given to proclaiming that what was good enough for its fathers was good enough for it. But to utter such a sentiment during the last three generations has been heretical, save perhaps in the narrow and perverse field of antique collecting. The modern world has been conditioned to regard itself as in all ways superior to the past, and particularly to the recent past; so it is almost automatic to look for evidence of "dating," over which we may feel a glow of self-satisfaction, in a work 50 years old.
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The Burroughs formula proved extremely popular, became widely imitated and still pervades a high percentage of periodical science fiction. As far as I am aware, no psychological research has been conducted to establish just why this prince-beggarmaid or, more often, American-princess setup should be so immensely popular among a people who extol the merits of democracy so highly. But since analysis of the national subconscious is beyond the scope of this page, I will content myself by offering it as a subject for a thesis and pursue the point that, since Wells, the drive has been consistently towards the un-adult in science fiction. And this, it would seem, arises from the fact that most of it has been presented in magazine form.
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|FORREST J. ACKERMAN visits
EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS
How the famous Martian Series began
For the better part of my life I had lived only an hour's journey from one of fantasy-fiction's most famous figures, whose stories of interplanetary adventure have thrilled millions; yet I had never met him. Having gone out of my way to shake hands with Wells, Merritt, Hugo Gernsback, Frank R. Paul, Austin Hall and many other science fiction celebrities, I decided it was high time I paid my respects to the creator of Tarzan of the Apes, John Carter of Mars and Carson of Venus, who had long since introduced me to the strange lands of Barsoom, Opar and Pellucidar.
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So much so that his Tarzan stories, translated into all languages from a Turkestan dialect to Hindustani (not forgetting Esperanto), have sold 30 million copies; while a score of full-length films adapted from his books have added to the rich proceeds of his imagination. In addition, he has gathered a small fortune from the use of his universally-famed ape-man in newspaper cartoons and comic books. He has also been on the radio, with Burroughs' son-in-law playing the title role along with his daughter, Joan. Few dream-children have been as profitable for their creator as Tarzan, born 36 years ago and still going strong.
Apes" had made his bow in All-Story, in the October, '12, issue. He appeared between hard covers two years later, and was such a success that All-Story and Argosy leapt at the chance to publish his adventures through the decades before they were presented in book form for the benefit of his followers throughout the world. The Munsey magazine also first featured Burroughs' tales of the world "At the Earth's Core" (All-Story, April, '14), "The Moon Maid" (Argosy, May-June, '23) and "The Moon Men" (Feb.-Mar., '25), the "Pirates of Venus" (Sep.-Oct., '32), and others. "The Land that Time Forgot," so beloved of early Amazing readers and all who grew up on his stories, and which he himself titled "The Lost U-Boat," was first published in Blue Book in '18.
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books published to date, nearly half of them concern his most famous character; there are ten in the Mars series,* and four whose locale is the primeval planet of Amtor, or Venus.
*Order of the Mars series: "A Princess of Mars" (1917), "The Gods of Mars" ('18), "The Warlord of Mars" ('19), "Thuvia, Maid of Mars" ('20), "The Chessmen of Mars" ('22), "The Master Mind of Mars" ('28), "A Fighting Man of Mars" ('31), "Swords of Mars" ('36), "Synthetic Men of Mars" ('40), "Llano of Gathol" ('48). Dates are those of book publication in U.S.A.
of syllables before I was satisfied with 'Tarzan.' I think the name of a character has a lot to do with his success, don't you? And I don't believe in describing them too accurately; I've never given Tarzan's actual height. I leave as much as I can to the reader's imagination."
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books a year under his own imprint, but had to limit his new editions to 10,000 copies.
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The Despised Spectre
THE MIDNIGHT READER, edited and with an Introduction by Philip Van Doren Stern. The Bodley Head, London. 10/6.
Reviewed by Geoffrey Giles
Although the science fiction story and the supernatural tale have come to be bracketed together as fantasy-fiction and are often equally beloved of our kind, there is a large number of science fiction fans to whom the weird tale is anathema. Not for them the ghoulies and ghosties, or even the Elder Gods: to them, the immortal Lovecraft was just another horror hack who appeared once in Amazing by mistake and twice in Astounding by editorial indiscretion.
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field, has not, however, made a point of catering for the connoisseur; though there can scarcely be any so uninitiated that they need such a statement of obvious principles as he gives in his long Introduction, as for instance: "Imagination is needed for the writing of supernatural tales and also for the enjoying of them . . . However, a genuine belief in the supernatural is not needed for the enjoyment of the ghost story." There is in his attitude towards the medium as it has been developed in our lifetime something of our former loftiness, even if his reasons for the languishing of the ghost story -whose golden age he limits to the thirteen years prior to 1911-corroborate the continuing demand for imaginative literature in the style we still prefer. But, says he:
The Fortean Thriller
SINISTER BARRIER, by Eric Frank Russell. Fantasy Press, Reading, Pa. $3.00.
Reviewed by Peter Phillips
However many fantasies have yet to be inspired by the peculiar notions of that late, great, nose-thumbing scientific iconoclast to whose creed our Mr. Russell subscribes, there have been none, so far, more successful than "Sinister Barrier." It is ten years since, taking the Fort-provoking phrase, "I think we're property," a newspaper clipping, and a couple of questions posed by two of his U.S. pen-friends, the newly-arrived British writer applied to them a detective story plot and his own narrative artistry to produce a tale that set the fantasy world agog and put the magazine Unknown on the map. Including a British book presentation, its sales now promise to exceed the quarter-million mark, leaving Mr. Russell with no regrets at having blued the cheque he received for the original manuscript* on a celebratory trip to New York in the Spring of '39. The story intrigues from the first page, wherein death comes swiftly and inexplicably to Professor Bjornsen while musing on the fate of the first cow that leads a revolt against milking. But he has passed on to other scientists the formula which, by increasing the receptiveness of the eye to certain wavelengths, enables them to discern as palpable entities the creatures to whom all humanity is nothing more than a vast herd of helpless milchcows. These herdsmen, by telepathic means, provoke and ascerbate the human emotions on which they feed. To them, disasters and dissentions are occasions for feasting; drawing on dissipated
* First entitled "Forbidden Acres," it was written for Astounding, then re-tailored by Russell to set the style for Unknown, the initial plans for which were already simmering in Editor Campbell's agile brain when the MS. arrived on his desk.
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nervous energy, tippling on agony, feeding on hate. Thus they have a vested-or digestive-interest in war. Their activities, indeed, explain why we are plagued by war when all men desire peace. It is a solemn, if fantastic, thought.
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The Incomplete Machen
TALES OF HORROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL, by Arthur Machen; edited and with an Introduction by Philip Van Doren Stern. Knopf, New York: $3.95.
Reviewed by John Beynon
The immortal phrase and high compliment, "It ain't so much what he says as the way he says it," might have been invented to cover much of Machen's work. Too seldom do we have fantasy with pretensions to literary style; too often do we have to ignore the English for the sake of the story, or find ourselves the observers of strange ramblings upon the very frontiers of literacy. Work, therefore, in which style transcends the material is a phenomenon.
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the literature for which some muddled mind invented the term "supernatural" from rightfully according him a high place. Not to have read some, at least, of his work is to be fantastically uneducated, and one could not find a better or more representative collection than this. Besides providing themselves with material for wonder, horror and speculation, experienced fantasy readers are certain to come across interesting suggestions of mining operations here and there.
In the Steps of Lovecraft
THE LURKER AT THE THRESHOLD, by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth. Museum Press, London, 8/6.
Reviewed by Arthur F. Hillman
Having come into his own in America in the usual posthumous manner, the Master of the Macabre (as he is described on the jacket of this book) is now beginning to be recognised in this country. At least, his work is percolating through more conspicuously than it did in his lifetime, when several of his shorter pieces were among the Weird Tales reprints featured in the "Not at Night" anthologies of Christine Campbell Thomson. He appeared, too, once or twice in the London Evening Standard; but it was not until recently that the British public could savour his full strength as demonstrated in "The Dunwich Horror," which is included in the English edition of the Random House anthology, "Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural," together with his classic "The Rats in the Walls."
* Answering a "brash" reviewer who deduced that the first 18,000 words had been written by Lovecraft and the remaining 45,000 by himself, August Derleth admitted in The Arkham Sampler (Spring '48) that he constructcd the novel from two fragments of writing left by Lovecraft; one entitled " The Round Tower," the other a description of a "rose window" which figures in the story. He further admitted the possibility "that the two sets of notes were for different stories; yet they appealed to me as manifestly related and as possible to connect, and out of them I constructed and wrote 'The Lurker at the Threshold,' which had nowhere been laid out, planned, or plotted by Lovecraft . . ."
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in this direction. My personal belief is that the true successor to Lovecraft's throne, who could draw most effectively on his lore and even enrich it, has not yet appeared; though I have a sneaking feeling that the qualifications might be discovered in Fritz Leiber Jnr.
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A Web of Dreams
THE WEB OF EASTER ISLAND, by Donald Wandrei. Arkham House, Sauk City, Wis. $3.00.
Reviewed by Arthur F. Hillman
In days before Mr. Wandrei and his partner, Mr. Derleth, joined forces with the object of publishing the works of Howard Lovecraft, and so founded Arkham House, the manuscript of this fourth in the series of fantasy novels they are giving us was circulated among the small band of litterateurs who had come under the influence of the Master of the Macabre. From him it earned this encomium: "You will like this novelespecially the poetically cosmic second half, one chapter of which is a masterpiece of underground horror."
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collection of excellent short stories, "The Eye and the Finger." In spite of the faults in its fabric "The Web" should entrap, not only the willing devotee of things weird and wonderful, but any who are unwary enough to peer through the portals of Mr. Wandrei's vivid imagination.
*Arkham House, 1944.
In Print and Available:
SLAVES OF SLEEP
A novel of thrills and high adventure from the pages of Unknown. This is the story of Tiger, pirate and rogue, who lives two simultaneous lives-one in the prosaic here and now, the other in the fabulous world of the Jinn. Wrapper in colour by Hannes Bok.
Forthcoming Fantasy Fiction:
THE WHEELS OF IF
The author of "Lest Darkness Fall" in a collection of madcap fantasy whackier than Thorne Smith at his best! The title novel, plus seven superb fantastic novelettes, including "The Gnarly Man," "The Merman," and "The Warrior Race." Wrapper in colour by Hannes Bok.
A novel of future interplanetary adventure, recounting the epic wanderings of the Howard clans, and their adventures among the alien stars. Wrapper in colour by Russell Swanson.
E. J. CARNELL
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It may be, of course, that Dr. Smith was writing with an eye to the requirements of his third story in this series, "The Skylark of Valeron"; but even with DuQuesne on our hands, we are still fully concerned with the Fenachrone and there are no other issues to side-track us. From the beginning, when Dunark of Osnome comes to Earth to enlist Seaton's aid in repelling an attack from a neighbouring planet, each incident dovetails with a fascinating precision; and at the end, where Seaton, in the vast "Skylark Three" built for him by the sages of Norlamin, destroys the last Fenachrone vessel far out in intergalactic space, we are left with a satisfying feeling of completeness. More than that, because few authors contrive to include such a wealth of exotic detail as does Dr. Smith; and if his extraterrestrial civilisations may seem at times rather old-fashioned Utopias, at least he is never guilty of that irritating trick of deliberate mystification by which some more recent writers add spurious glamour to their stories.
A Companion Anthology to Strange Ports of Call
The Other Side of the Moon
Containing a unique selection of science-fantasy by Beresford, Dunsany, Fowler Wright, Lovecraft, Bradbury, Padgett, van Vogt, Russell and many other favourites. Available late Spring, '49. Price to be announced. Limited number of copies only. Order now if you wish to secure this remarkable volume.
AHKHAM HOUSE BOOKS for November-December '48
GENIUS LOCI & OTHER TALES By Clark Ashton Smith
ROADS By Seabury Quinn
NOT LONG FOR THIS WORLD By August Derleth
G. KEN CHAPMAN (British Sales Representative),
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The War Against the Martians
THE FLYING SAUCER, by Bernard Newman. Gollancz, London, 9/6.
Reviewed by I. 0. Evans
This is the third time that Mr. Newman has strayed from his usual trail of spies, secret police and black marketeers to follow the path of science fiction. In '30 he visualised the world's scientists pooling their knowledge for the purpose of preventing war. In '41 he pictured a missile which only security regulations kept him from describing as an atomic bomb. In his new "thriller," which is something more than that, the hero of "Secret Weapon" tries to achieve the objective of the scientific league of "Armoured Doves. But the methods he uses are very different.*
* But not, as his creator admits, entirely new to science fiction. In "The War Against the Moon" (Kegan Paul, London: '28), Andre Maurois conceived of a newspaper stunt which averted war on Earth by organising ray-bombardment of the Moon—which turned out to be inhabited by creatures able to hit back.
Ideal Gifts for Christmas
Books are always acceptable gifts at Christmastide, and the following selection will be found suitable for non-fantasy readers as well as valuable items in any collector's library.
DEATH'S DEPUTY By L. Ron Hubbard 14/6
BEYOND THIS HORIZON By Robert A. Heinlein 16/6
SINISTER BARRIER By Eric Frank Russell 16/6
OUT OF THE UNKNOWN By A. E. van Vogt & E. M. Hull 14/6
THE BLACK FLAME By Stanley G. Weinbaum 16/6
DIVIDE AND RULE By L. Sprague de Camp 16/6
E. J. CARNELL, 17 BURWASH ROAD, PLUMSTEAD, LONDON, S.E.18
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his well-known creation, "Papa" Pontivy of the Paris Surete. He is equally happy in recording other aspects of the situation, the suppositious comments in the Russian Press especially revealing a pleasing vein of sardonic humour. As for the weapon which at length the "Martians" use, it outdoes the atomic bomb itself; it is a protonic bomb whose action Professor Drummond lucidly describes.
Science Fiction Lazy, Say Rocketeers
The Journal of the American Rocket Society is not above considering the question of science fiction—especially when it finds it the subject of "widespread complaint . . . because it is so completely careless in its scientific background." It ventilates the grouch through a reader's letter:
* For more positive results of such an investigation, not necessarily infallible, see page 2.
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MR. WELLS' 'BLIND SPOT'
During the recent "open house" at the new Chicago offices of Shasta Publishers, the conversation inevitably got around to the subject of H. G. Wells, and I posed a query regarding his stories which no one—at least among the people with whom I was conversing—could answer satisfactorily. It occurs to me that you, being closer to possible sources of information, may be able to enlighten me. My problem is this: How is it that Wells never wrote a "future" story involving space-travel? By that I mean a story of future terrestrial civilisation that has achieved systematised space-travel and exploration, and has extended itself to other worlds and systems.
THE QUERY BOX
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