Saturday, September 08, 2007

Tarzan In Space...Sort of

The March 1941 issue of Startling Stories was graced with one of Bergey's best covers yet. A figure, looking a lot like a cross between Johnny Weissmuller and Victor Mature fends of a three-headed critter looking like a vulture, while the obligatory Bergey Babe has conveniently fainted. The cover promised a lot.
The issue leaps into the novel of the month, Sojarr of Titan by Manly Wade Wellman. "When the First Flight to Saturn Crashes on an Alien Moon, the Robinson Crusoe of Space Clothes Himself in the Laws of a Strange Science to Win a New World." This read better than I thought it would (how could I have doubted Wellman?). There are some interesting concepts and it could be made into an enjoyable film. The hardest thing to buy is that a three-year-old kid can survive on his own in such a situation. Illustrations are by Wesso.
Now we come to the issue's selection for the Scientifiction Hall of Fame, "The Worlds of If" by Stanley G. Weinbaum, originally printed in Wonder Stories, August 1935, and selected by Ted Carnell (1912-1972). Illustrations are not signed. The story deals with the "what might have been" if someone had made a different decision, perhaps taken a different path or even arrived late. There were several films dealing with this concept recently, "Sliding Doors" being one.
"Thrills in Science" by Mort Weisinger covers Galileo's experiment at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Samuel F. B. Morse and the invention of the telegraph, and the last days of Greek geometer Erastosthenes.
Next comes another short story, "The Eternal Moment" by Robert Arthur (1909-1969). "Eons Must Pass Before the Future Can Answer the Riddle Bequeathed to It by a Forgotten Century." Illustration is by Marchioni. There are some very interesting ideas in this story and the ending is quite unsettling.
The final short story for the issue is "Over The Space-Waves" by Stanton A. Coblentz(1896-1982). "The Minor Planets Are Not Always Inferior." The Jovian tyrant Lerhitum (turn the name inside out and find Hitler) threatens to destroy Mars. Finally, current events are showing up here with increasing frequency. The illustration is by Marchioni.
"Science Question Box" tackles Aquatic Life, Helium, Sunspots and investigating the Stratosphere. Then we turn the pafe to discover the Scientific Crossword Puzzle. Jack Binder's "They Changed the World" feature is AWOL for this issue as well as the previous.
"The Ether Vibrates" as usual plugs the next issue's novel, this time The Water World. Horrid images of Kevin Costner leap to mind. Now we get to the letters. Bernard Eddings of Charleston, WV list his ratings for the stories published thus far; Harry Jenkins of Columbis, SC does the same; Arthur J. Burks, in an undisclosed location, praises Hamilton's novel for the last issue; Nate O'Neil, of the Hartford, CT O'Neils indulges in some nit-picking; Jerry Datlow also heaps praise on A Yank At Valhalla (I'm reading it right now and it's okay, but no classic); Sam Basham, Jr., from Bardwell, KY pleads for back issues; and Lee O'Connell, Dearborn, Michigan follows in the footsteps of Forry Ackerman by writing his first letter to a science fiction magazine at the ripe old age of thirteen; and Sergeant Saturn signs off as "the Old Space Dog".
"Review of the Science Fiction Fan Publications" is made up of familiar titles, so I'm skipping names here. If you really want to know who is responsible you can find them in previous posts or drop me a note. Fanzines this time around are "Spaceways" by Warner, Avery and Marconette; "Pluto" by Manning(s), Paul, Gilbert "and others"; "The Comet" by Tom Wright and Jim Tillman, Martinez, CA; "Frontier" by Brazier and Deppiesse; and "Fantascience Digest" from Madle, Agnew and Fischer.
And, we close with "Meet the Author" where Manly Wade Wellman predicts "I, for one, am confident that the first attempted flight across space will take place in this century, and that many of us will live to see it..." He got that one right and it was probably sooner than he expected.
So until next time keep breathing in those pulp fumes.


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