1929


The Light in the Sky: Aztec Two-Step

The Light in the Sky by Herbert Clock & Eric Boetzel

In H. Rider Haggard’s 16th novel, the epic blockbuster Montezuma’s Daughter (1893), the reader is introduced to a young man named Thomas Wingfield, a European (half English, half Spanish) who is captured by the ancient Aztecs in the New World of the 16th century. Wingfield eventually becomes something of a living god among them, marries the titular Otomie, and witnesses the arrival and eventual conquest of the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. It is a truly wonderful piece of historical fiction, with minimal fantastic content. But 36 years later, another book would be released with many of the same plot points mentioned above, but updated to a modern setting, and with the fantasy elements very much in the fore... Read More

The Sea Girl: The original water-gate break-in

The Sea Girl by Ray Cummings

A little while back, I had some words to say concerning Garrett P. Serviss’ truly excellent apocalyptic novel The Second Deluge, which was originally released in 1911. In that book, the Earth passes through a so-called “watery nebula,” and the resultant downpours cause the world’s oceans to rise over 30,000 feet, effectively inundating the entire planet! Well, now I am here to tell you about another Radium Age wonder, with precisely the opposite scenario. In Ray CummingsThe Sea Girl, all the oceans on Earth mysteriously start to drop ever lower, until the point is reached where barely a drop remains, thus changing practically everything on our fair planet!

Read More

Venus Liberated: When Tinus met Coris

Venus Liberated by Harl Vincent

Have you ever thought to yourself, while reading a particularly good book, “What a fantastic movie this novel would make!”? Of course you have … it’s a practically inevitable occurrence. And it is one that has just happened to me again, while reading Harl Vincent’s 1929 offering Venus Liberated. Indeed, featuring as it does space travel, a visit to two nearby worlds, weapons and assorted gadgets of superscience, romance, warfare, and some truly hissable and hideous aliens, the book would have been a natural, it seems to me, as the source of a 1950s sci-fi film … or, given the requisite $200 million budget, a blockbuster summer movie today. Some kind of ultimate pulp epic of the most colorful kind, this is a book that practically screams for the big-screen treatment.

And yet, the fact that it has not been given any cinematic consideratio... Read More

The Greatest Adventure: Dinosaurs and dynamite

The Greatest Adventure by John Taine

In the 1957 Universal film The Land Unknown, a quartet of men and one woman discover a tropical wonderhell 3,000 feet below sea level in the frozen wastes of Antarctica, replete with killer plants and savage dinosaurs. But, as it turns out, this was not the first time that four men and one woman had battled prehistoric monsters and inimical flora in a surprisingly balmy valley on the frozen continent. That honor, it would seem, goes to a book called, fittingly enough, The Greatest Adventure, written by John Taine. In actuality, “John Taine” was the pen name of Scottish mathematician Eric Temple Bell, who used his own name only when he authored books on science and math, reserving the pseudonym for when he wrote works of science fiction, of which he created 15, starting with 1924’s Read More

The Maracot Deep: What’s doing in Atlantis NOW?

The Maracot Deep by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Readers who know of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle through his Sherlock Holmes stories, his tales of Sir Nigel in the 14th century, the Napoleonic adventures of Brigadier Gerard or the sci-fi escapades of Professor Challenger might still be unfamiliar with The Maracot Deep. Published in 1929, only a year before the author's death, this short novel amply demonstrates that Doyle still retained all his great abilities as a spinner of riveting yarns, even in his twilight years. At a mere 140 pages, the novel(la) is a compact but densely written fantasy of the discovery of the remnants of Atlantis.

It seems that Professor Maracot (a kind of early 20th century cross between Jacques Cousteau and Robert Ballard), along with an American naturalist and an American engineer, had suffered a terrible accident while in his bathysphere off the... Read More

Mary of Marion Isle: Another wonderful Haggard adventure

Mary of Marion Isle by H. Rider Haggard

The great H. Rider Haggard wrote a total of 58 novels before his death in May 1925, and of that number, four were released posthumously. Mary of Marion Isle was his penultimate creation, one which he wrote in 1924, although, as revealed in D.S. Higgins' biography of Haggard, the idea for the story first came to him in 1916, while sailing to Australia and watching the albatrosses circling his ship. The novel was ultimately released in April 1929, and, as stated by Higgins, was limited to a run of only 3,500 copies by the publisher Hutchinson & Co. Somehow, many years ago, I got my hands on one, and in fair shape, too. I'm glad I did, because it turns out to be another wonderful Haggard adventure, although many reviewers (Higgins included) tend to denigrate these later Haggard titles as being mere rehashes of older works. Well, I suppose that some of the themes and set pieces in... Read More

The Monster Men: Edgar Rice Burroughs melds Dr. Moreau with Frankenstein

The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs are both legion and loyal, as evidenced by the long lasting popularity of his characters. Tarzan of course is his most famous character, and John Carter of Mars (and Virginia) was the main character of a recent poorly marketed (but I thought still well done) Disney film. But Burroughs was an extremely prolific author who wrote a lot more than just Tarzan and Martian stories. One of his earliest efforts was this adventure story set in the south Pacific near Borneo. In many ways it can be considered Burroughs’ take on both Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and H.G. Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau. Originally published as “A Man Without a Soul” in 1913 in the Pulp publication All-Story Magazine, The Monster Men was later published under the present title as a hardcover book in ... Read More