Sunday, August 3, 2014

Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Carson of Venus" (novel, adventure, free): Hero helps win a war

Cover of Argosy magazine issue where the story originally began publishing - first of the 6 parts.This is #3 in author's Venus series. I've not read the earlier books, but it's pretty much an independent adventure. And very readable if you can keep plausibility aside.

Story summary.

Carson Napier, hero of the story, along with his ladylove Duare, is homeless & wanted in many jurisdictions on Venus. But he has an airplane he built that can stay up in the air without maintenance or refueling for 50 years! But he needs to land for food. The duo are seeking a home where they will be wanted.

They'll end up on a large island (Korva) with war going on - a common soldier has usurped power & has imprisoned the king. All of Korva has fallen except one holdout, the walled city of Sanara. The city is now under seize.

Carson will end up befriending the holdouts, & help them win the war by bombing enemy from his plane & by playing a spy in usurper's city.

Notes.

There is also an unrelated short story length adventure at the beginning of the novel - tribals kidnap Duare & Carson will rescue her.

Fact sheet.

First published: As a serial in 6 parts in Argosy, Jan 8, 15, 22, 29, & Feb 5 & 12 issues, 1938.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg of Australia or Feedbooks.
Rating: A.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novel category.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Henry Kuttner's "The Time Trap" (novella, adventure, free)

This is readable enough, but in a mindless sort of way.

Story summary.

A disparate group of apparently good samaritans come together from several eras - hero from 1930s, heroine & hero's sidekick from 5000 years ago from what is now Arabia, & a friend from sometime in future. They're chasing two villains - both from future - through time. In the process, they'll have lot of adventures in exotic locales & among exotic species at different times in earth's history.

Two curious things stood out for me. One is a factual error - in the story, the moon has come much closer to earth in far future; I thought it is going away a few centimeters every year. Other is something you see a lot on pulp magazine covers but not in actual stories - here, heroine is nude at least a half dozen times - sometimes an object of lust, other times as part of torture, yet another time as part of worship! I haven't read many stories from Marvel, but I wonder if the magazine specialized in titillation?

Title refers a metallic device that looks like a pair of obelisks, planted in some remote corner of Arabia by the main villain. The device will live to the end of earth, & is a trap: whenever someone is within range of device &, simultaneously, lightening strikes the device, the person is sent to about 3000 BC!

Fact sheet.

First published: Marvel Science Stories, November 1938.
Download full text from AlfaLib.
Rating: B.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novella category.
Related: Stories of Henry Kuttner.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

C L Moore's "Werewoman" (novelette, free)

Among the most boring of author's Northwest Smith series; I completed it only because it is C L Moore.

Northwest Smith, unarmed, hurt, & being chased by unnamed adversaries, walks into the cursed ruins of a long dead city, & will free it from its curse.

Fact sheet.

First published: Leaves #2, Winter 1938.
Download full text from AlfaLib.
Rating: C.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novelette category.
Related: Stories of C L Moore.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

John W Campbell's "Dead Knowledge" (as by Don A Stuart) (novelette, alien invasion): "Molecular", microscopic, space traveling, light-eating alien invaders want to control us as tools!

one of the uncredited illustrations accompanying the original publication in Astounding magazine of short story Dead Knowledge by John Campbell
Three human star travelers have arrived at a new world 27 light years from earth, only to find that it once harbored intelligent, highly developed, humanoid civilization that is now dead. And, curiously, it's long dead residents have their bodies well preserved & they all apparently committed suicide!!

It drags on for a while, until the visitors themselves start committing suicide - first one, then other. It's the final one who will enlighten us on the nature of infection before himself committing suicide.

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, January 1938.
Rating: B.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novelette category.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Works of John Campbell (as by Don A Stuart).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Clifford D Simak's "Rule 18" (novelette, humor): How earth won it's first football match against Martians in decades

One of the illustrations accompanying the original publication in Astounding magazine of short story Rule 18 by Clifford D Simak. Image shows the victory procession through New York of Martian football team after its latest win against earth.Martians have been beating earth in annual football match for a long time. And the diagnosis is: earth-men have become soft because of too much automation here; they never get a chance to exercise their muscles. But things are about to change as a cool newly invented gadget, the earth team's coach sick of losing too long, & a betting syndicate come together...

Title comes from one of the rules of the game that requires a player of the team to not only be natives of his world, but his 9 preceding generations should have been native of this world too. Coach will twist this rule in a curious way to win.

Update 21 July 2014Marooned has a note on an Isaac Asimov connection to this story.

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, July 1938.
Rating: B.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novelette category.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of Clifford D Simak.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

H L Gold's "A Matter of Form" (novella, brain dump): When a man lived in a dog's body

One of the uncredited illustrations accompanying the original publication of this story in Astounding magazine. Image shows a scene near end where the man in dogs body, with 2 friends, is confronting 2 villains.A surgeon has discovered that the pineal gland at the brain's base is the source of an
animal's identity; surgically extract & transplant it in another animal's brain, & you've put the original in a new body. And he has a rich, old & seriously ill financier who wants a young man's body!

In one of the experiments, the surgeon exchanged the identity of a kidnapped man with a dog. Only the resulting man-in-dog's-body turned out to be more determined & resourceful than either the surgeon or his financier expected...

Fact sheet.

First published: Astounding, December 1938.
Rating: A.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novella category.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Stories of H L Gold.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Robert E Howard's "Pigeons From Hell" (novelette, haunted house, free)

While I'm not a fan of haunted house tales, & the first of its 3 parts did bore me a bit, the later parts were generally quite readable.

Story summary.

An abandoned house in the US South is haunted by a "zuvembie", a "zuvembie" created by black voodoo in revenge for serious maltreatment of a "mulatto" maid by a former slave owner. Now the zuvembie targets whatever hapless human happens by the place, killing the victim. A lucky escaped victim & a policeman will join hands to kill the zuvembie.

Fact sheet.

First published: Weird Tales, May 1938.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg of Australia.
Rating: B.
Nominated for Retro Hugo Awards 1939 in novelette category.
Related: Stories of Robert E Howard.