1939


The New Adam: Of mice and mentation

The New Adam by Stanley G. Weinbaum

Stanley G. Weinbaum was one of the great “what if…” authors in sci-fi history. Perhaps no other writer before or since has been so influential, and shown so much early promise, only to have that budding career cut tragically short. The Kentucky-born author caused a sensation when his very first tale, “A Martian Odyssey,” appeared in the July 1934 issue of Wonder Stories, and its ostrichlike central alien, the unforgettable Tweel, was a true original of its kind. In a flurry of activity, Weinbaum went on to create some two dozen more short stories, plus three novels, before succumbing to lung cancer in December ’35, at the age of 33. (Robert Bloch, a friend of Weinbaum’s, has since written that he actually died of throat cancer; don’t ask me.) It had been many years since I’d read the classic Balla... Read More

Slaves of Sleep: Not an E-Meter in sight

Slaves of Sleep by L. Ron Hubbard

Potential readers of L. Ron Hubbard's Slaves of Sleep who might be put off by the author's association with the cult of Dianetics and Scientology need not be concerned here. This novel first appeared in Unknown magazine in 1939, more than a decade before Hubbard's first Dianetics article was published (in Astounding Science Fiction) in May 1950. Thus, in Slaves of Sleep, there's not a mention of “auditors,” “clears” or “E-meters” to be found. Rather, this is an extremely fast-moving and colorful fantasy tale, told with much brio and panache. In it, we meet Seattle shipping magnate Jan Palmer, a rather pusillanimous young man who is falsely accused of the murder of a visiting professor. I'm not giving anything away by saying that this murder was actually the work of the hairy, fanged and 15-foot-tall jinni Zongri, w... Read More