Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jack Williamson's "The Metal Man" (short story, adventure, free): Some earthlings may be stranger than aliens!

Quote from short story titled The Metal Man by Jack WilliamsonThis fast moving story is also Jack Williamson's first published, "at age 20". I guess it can be called a horror story, but it's not the gory sort of horror I find repulsive!

Story summary.

When Prof Thomas Kelvin of the Geology Department of Tyburn College went prospecting radium - solo in a monoplane - to the origin of the "El Rio de la Sangre, 'The River of Blood.'" somewhere "along the Pacific coast of Mexico", he was sucked into a world of horrors.

The valley was teeming with intelligent creatures that had mastered antigravity & had cities, but whose biology was crystalline. And a highly radioactive environment that turns animal tissue to metal! Only a few plants thrive here - they seem to have adapted well to this environment, & their juices contain antidote to tissue-to-metal conversion process. We aren't told why this utterly alien environment never really came into conflict with rest of earth.

Story is of Kelvin's adventures here, eventual escape, & tragic end. Narrator is Russell, a friend of Kelvin.

See also.

  1. Arthur Clarke's "The Fires Within" & Eric Frank Russell's "Sinister Barrior" both feature earth-beings that are so different from known kinds of life they might as well be aliens. In both cases, their accidental discovery doesn't bode well for humanity - we aren't prepared to meet beings truly alien!
  2. Murray Leinster's "Proxima Centauri" features aliens with plant like biology that have exactly the kind of sympathy to us that we feel towards apples. Or that crystal beings of this story feel towards animals, including humans.

Fact sheet.

First published: Amazing Stories, December 1928.
Rating: A
Download full text as JPEG image scans from Hairy Green Eyeball [via QuasarDragon]
Related: All stories of Jack Williamson.


Arvind Mishra said...

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