Monday, February 12, 2007

Astounding Hamilton

"The Sargasso Of Space" is one of the better early stories I've read lately by Edmond Hamilton. His short novel, The Prisoner Of Mars (1939)was okay, but much too dirivative of The Prisoner Of Zenda. I couldn't get into The Three Planeteers (1940) but will try again sometime. So it was a happy chance that I stumbled on a forgotten magazine in my collection, The September, 1931, issue of Astounding.
I'll go ahead and say that Wesso's cover was pretty good, except for the background guy running through space. But the idea of a fight in the vacuum of space with glass helmets at risk was pretty gripping.
And Hamilton's story is pretty gripping, too. A freighter runs out of fuel on the run from Jupiter to Uranus, and is drawn into a part of space called "the dead-area", where the light gravitational pull of the outer planets doesn't reach. The idea is, obviously, based on ships being trapped in the Sargasso Sea on Earth. I can't say if the science is any good, but Hamilton has crafted a fine, exciting story. They enter a large junk field consisting of thousands of wrecks and decide to explore some of the wrecks to see if there is any fuel left. Then they encounter the survivors of a mutiny on another ship and wind up in a fight for their lives. All in all, it's a very satisfying story and one that revived my interest in Hamilton.
Next time I'll have another 1931 issue of Astounding.


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