1928


The Sunken World: An exciting first novel with some interesting points to make

The Sunken World by Stanton A. Coblentz

Ever since reading the truly beautiful and unforgettable fantasy When the Birds Fly South (1945) around 3 ½ years back, I have wanted to experience another book from the San Francisco-born novelist and poet Stanton A. Coblentz. Unfortunately, just as “Coblentz” is not exactly a household name these days, his books are hardly to be found at your local modern-day bookstores. Coming to my rescue once again, however, were the fine folks at Armchair Fiction, who currently have no fewer than five of the author’s titles in their very impressive catalog. Choosing at random, I opted for Coblentz’s very first piece of fiction, The Sunken World … and a very fortuitous choice it has turned... Read More

The World of the Giant Ants: Bugging out

The World of the Giant Ants by A. Hyatt Verrill

In two novels that I recently read, Ralph Milne Farley’s The Radio Man (1924) and its sequel, The Radio Beasts (1925), engineer Myles Cabot accidentally transports himself to Venus and discovers a society of enormous and intelligent ants, the so-called Formians. But, it would seem, if a certain book of 1928 is to be believed, Cabot did not have to leave planet Earth to discover such gigantic and civilized creatures. The book in question is The World of the Giant Ants, which initially appeared in the pages of Hugo... Read More

The Moon Terror: A wonderfully pulpish double feature

The Moon Terror by A.G. Birch

During my first, recent visit to London, besides doing all the typical touristy things, I also happened to visit several of the very fine bookstores that the great city currently offers. The used-book stores on Charing Cross Road were especially interesting to me, but I also stopped in at Forbidden Planet (so much better than the Forbidden Planet store here in NYC), the mammoth independent bookstore called Foyles, and, of course, the Waterstones on Piccadilly. It was at this gigantic bookstore, supposedly the largest in Europe, where I found the volume in question, The Moon Terror, by A.G. Birch. It was not a hard sell for me; as soon as I read that this short novel originally appeared in the pages of Weird Tales magazine, I purchased it on the spot. As it turns out, this novel made its debut in the May and June 1923 issues of “The Unique Magazine”; th... Read More

Armageddon 2419 A.D.: Passing the buck

Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan

I would imagine, at this point, that you have previously heard of the fictional character named Buck Rogers. And indeed, dating from his initial comic strip appearance in January 1929, and proceeding on to radio shows (starting in 1932, Buck Rogers was radio’s very first sci-fi hero), a 12-part film serial (starring the former Olympic swimming medalist Buster Crabbe), several TV adaptations, video games, and comics, the character has been fairly ubiquitous for almost 90 years now. To be sure, Buck’s comic strip was so very popular in the early ‘30s that it spawned, in January 1934, a rival sci-fi strip starring Flash Gordon, a character that Crabbe would also portray in three fondly remembered film serials.

But unlike Flash, Buck had, as his actual provenance, a literary background. That predecessor, you see, was one Anthony Rogers, who initially appeared in Philadelphia-born Read More

Seven Footprints to Satan: Marvelous entertainment

Seven Footprints to Satan by Abraham Merritt

Readers of Abraham Merritt's first four novels — The Moon Pool, The Metal Monster, The Face in the Abyss and The Ship of Ishtar — may feel a little surprised as they get into his fifth, Seven Footprints to Satan. Whereas those earlier fantasy masterpieces featured exotic locales such as the Pacific islands, the Himalayas and Peru; extravagant purple prose, dense with hyperadjectival descriptions; and living light creatures, metallic sentient cubes, a lost semi-reptilian race and battling gods, Seven Footprints to Satan Read More

Orlando: Witty and fun

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

[In our Edge of the Universe column, we review mainstream authors that incorporate elements of speculative fiction into their “literary” work. However you want to label them, we hope you’ll enjoy discussing these books with us.]


Orlando, by Virginia Woolf, is funny. Okay, it’s not snort-beer-out-your-nose funny, (it’s Virginia Woolf after all,) but it’s still witty and fun… probably about as “fun” as Woolf got. The writing is poetic, political and smart, and the story goes nowhere you would expect from the woman who wrote Mrs. Dalloway and To The Lighthouse.

Orlando is presented as the biography of a young British nobleman. The biographer’s voice is very present throughout the book, and at times the biographer shares with us the joys and difficulties of writing a biography; reading through sc... Read More

The Island of Captain Sparrow: An old lost world fantasy now on audio

The Island of Captain Sparrow by S. Fowler Wright

During his profitable pirating career, Captain Sparrow discovered an unknown South Pacific island that appeared to consist entirely of rocky cliffs but contained a lushly fertile inland landscape. It could only be accessed at high tide from a small hidden recess high in the cliffs. Sparrow and his crew, who were wanted all over the world for their crimes, made the island a hideout where they stowed heaps of gold bars and lots of guns and ammunition. Before his last voyage, Sparrow left some of his crew, several Chilean women, and his young son on the island. But Sparrow had tempted fate one time too many; he and his remaining crew were caught and hanged. Not knowing what happened to their leader and the rest of his men, the pirates and women left on the island degenerated into illiteracy and lawlessness.

A couple of generations later, Charlton Foyle, drifting alone in a lifeboat, h... Read More