Sunday, July 01, 2007

Llamkin's Travels

I am beginning to suspect that Oscar J. Friend and Mort Weisinger were related. This is the second issue in a row with the cover illustrating one of his stories. This time around Bergey illustrates a scene from the issue's novel, The Kid From Mars. And Bergey doesn't disappoint. We have a Bergey Babe, threatened by a couple of BEMs, being rescued by a guy in a funky hat.
The September, 1940, issue of Startling Stories saves the filler for later and leaps right into the novel, The Kid From Mars by Oscar J. Friend (1897-1963). "The Visitor from the Crimson World Could Perform Miracles-but They Weren't For Sale." I suspect Friend had been to the movies lately and was hoping to sell this one to Preston Sturges because it reads almost like one of the screwball comedies of the Thirties and early Forties. An explorer from Mars comes to Earth seeking that which the Earthmen have and Martians lack; a sense of humor. X-two-three-Z-four-seven-nine-eight-nine, also known as Llamkin, arrives in the middle of a polo match (couldn't be a baseball game) and is mistaken for an advertising stunt. He falls for an actress, escapes Nazi spies (finally, someone realizes there's a war going on in Europe) and kidnaps the President and takes him to Mars. All is told with a quirky sense of humor that appears to be inspired by the screwball comedies or Thorne Smith. Llamkin almost comes across as a blueprint for the character Data in a later Star Trek series. Illustrations are by Alex Schomburg.
According to Wikipedia after the war Friend was approached by Walt Disney who was interested in filming this with Danny Kaye. Unfortunately, nothing was ever done. But, on the plus side, it never became a Jerry Lewis film.
Next comes a guest editorial, "The Ally of Science" by Arthur K. Barnes (1911-1969) telling how Science Fiction helps the public accept scientific advances.
Jack Binder's illustrated series "They Changed The World" features "The Life Story of Galileo who first used the Telescope". A turn of the page then presents us with the Scientifiction Hall of Fame story, "The World Without" which first appeared in Wonder Stories, February, 1931, written by Benson Herbert. "A Strange New Realm Beyond All Sense and Reason-but Not the Mind of Man".
"Thrills in Science" by Mort Weisinger features Sir Issac Newton, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier and Henri Becquerel. "Science Question Box" deals with color changing fish sounds like a magic trick), rotation of the Earth and the origin of the Moon.
The next short story is "The Machine That Had No Flaws" by Ray Cummings (1887-1957). "A Perpetual Motion Device Is Impossible-But Necessity Is the Mother of Invention". A king offers his daughter's hand to whoever can invent a perpetual motion device. Another short story follows, "Kingdom Of The Ants" by Gerald Bowman (1901-1967). Bowman wrote a series of stories with the character Clive Halloran. This story was a reprint, first appearing in "Modern Wonder" for February, 1939. "Mondern Wonder" was an English publication aimed at the boy's market.
The Scientific Crossword Puzzle follows; all answers being numbers. "The Ether Vibrates" announces the next six Hall of Fames stories will be selected by "scientifiction's most outstanding followers, men who have read every story published in the last decade". First up is Sam Moskowitz. Letters this time around are by Kenneth Bartlett, Harry Schmarje, Herbert T. Brown, Savid Glazer, Walter Grale, D. B. Thompson, Art R. Sehrert, Alfred Edward Maxwell and Charles Hidley.
"Meet The Author" features autobiographical note by Oscar J. Friend.
This issue closes out with "Review of the Science Fiction Fan Publications." "Stardust" by Lawrence Hamling, Neil DeJack, Chester S. Geier, Paul Quaiver, Harry Funk, Harry Warner, Jr., and Herschel Jenkinson, Jr, coming out of Chicago leads the pack. Following are "Spaceways" by Warner, Avery and Marconette out of Hagerstown, MD; "Golden Atom" by Farsaci and Bernard S. Seufert comes from New York; "Polaris" by Paul Freehafer wings from Los Angeles; "The Comet" by Tom Wright is another California product, Martinez this time; Scienti-Comics by Philip Bronson of Hastings, Minn is described as "The saga of 'Robot Doom', in comic-strip technicolor"; "The M. S. A. Bulletin" comes from the Maine Scientifiction Association and is edited by Gerald W. Meader; "Horizons" is another Hagerstown product from Warner and Avery; "Cosmos" by Molesworth comes from Australia; Fantasy-News by the Nwy York team of Sykora, Taurasi, Moskowitz and Racic; and "Science Fiction Weekly" comes from exotic Brooklyn and the team of Lowndes, Wilson, Perri and Cohen. And this closes out yet another fun-filled issue of Startling Stories.


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