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David H. Keller



"The Doorbell"
© Wonder Stories, Jun 1934
Tales From Underwood, 1952
--Groff Conklin's story selection
--/ cool sf story

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"The Emigrants"
(Cosmos series)
© Science Fiction Digest, Jul 1932
Fantasy Magazine, Dec 1934

Perry Rhodan, Ace Books
--/ fourth place space sf series
--/ wonder award
--/ awesome scale
--/ rare find

Unreal... This is simply the most unique event in history of science fiction, the collaboration between the brightest stars in the field, some at the beginning of their career, some at the peak of their powers. The list of writers is a shining "all-star" galaxy in itself. The fiction is... well, it's certainly big-scale, brimming with grand conflict, ridiculous science, unpronounceable names and places, and more BANG that you ever encountered between soft book covers - testing, in fact, the limits of reader's imagination and believability. Impossibly hard to find today, "Cosmos" spanned the issues of "Science Fiction Digest", and then "Fantasy Magazine" (the installments were not printed in the issues themselves but as a separately-bound supplements).

Personally I liked the "Last Poet" part of the serial and the crazy, absolutely delirious space battle extravaganza contributed by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. A multi-dimensional "Wrongness of Space" anomaly attacks our system; a bunch of alien menaces and mad scientists pop out of every wrinkle of time and space, flying around (some may say chaotically) and driving the serial to its bang-up finish - good old Edmond Hamilton destroying planets Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus with an atomic disintegrator ray in his "Armageddon in Space". In other words, "The Cosmos" series is well worth searching out, it's a monumental literary artifact from the "wonder pulps" era, quite enjoyable even to this day.

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"The Evening Star" (nv)
(Harry Brunton series)
© Science Wonder Stories, Apr 1930
Fantastic Story, 1952


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"The Ivy War"
© Wonder Stories, May 1930
--Groff Conklin's Story Selection
--/ third place apocalyptic sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: plants invasion
--/ awesome scale
--/ rare find

How's this different from "The Day of the Triffids"? This story is shorter, bigger in scale, and more cinematic. It throws one special effect after another at the reader, who should've grown used already to the mind-boggling apocalyptic scenarios in the pulps. Of course, I have to admit, I'm partial to the subject matter, as well. The carnivorous plant invasion is a cool thing, no matter what year it's been written. I am still waiting for the big-budget CG Hollywood movie to properly show this kind of stuff in IMAX. Bottomline is, this is the CLASSIC and the most exciting treatment of this idea - with wonderfully scary & visual writing, able to give any botanist second thoughts about creepy-crawley plants.
review: 15-Jan-08 (read in 2006)

----------------------------------------------



"The Life Detour"
© Wonder Stories, Feb 1935
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ rare find


David Keller is another popular pulp SF writer whose stories are consistently not reprinted and completely overlooked by publishers. Works of Ray Cummings and Milton Lesser (to name just a few) have suffered the same fate. It must be the fact that publishers do not read original pulps, only anthologies, which are severely limited in their choices. Keller was so popular that editors even had a "trademark" for his stories: "Kelleryarns". One can see why - a solid idea (in this case a desciption of "heavy water" - way ahead of its time in nuclear research) presented through a very visual set-up (here, a bridge literally spans the gap between Engineers and Dreamers in a future society). A fascinating Kelleryarn, among the Heinleinisms and Asimovations of our times.
review: 05-Aug-06 (read in 2005)

----------------------------------------------

"The Literary Corkscrew"
© Startling Stories, Mar 1941
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find


"The Lost Language"
© Amazing Stories, Jan 1934
Amazing Stories, Jul 1971

--/ cool sf story

----------------------------------------------
Another one of my absolute favorite pulp covers:





"The Metal Doom" (nv)
© Wonder Stories, May-Jul 1932
--/ cool apocalyptic sf novel
--/ awesome scale
--/ rare find

Pretty self-conscious and very "proper" pulp novel of economical disaster, caused by a rapid & global deterioration of metal. All the obvious consequences ensue, which is why I could not be bothered to read the last dozen pages. Very predictable (but classic, nevertheless) scenario told in pretty fluid, but uninspired style. David H. Keller set out to write a "category-killer" novel and he perhaps succeded - this novel is counted among the best published in "wonder pulps". It reads partly like a L. Ron Hubbard pot-boiler though, partly as a very, very poor-man version of H. G. Wells.
review: 10-Jan-08 (read in 2008)

----------------------------------------------

"No More Friction"
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Jun 1939
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find


"The Rat Racket"
© Amazing, Nov 1931
--/ cool sf story

"Service First"
© Amazing Stories Quarterly, Win 1931
Great SF Classics magazine, 1967
--/ cool sf story
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find


"The Sleeping War"
© Wonder Stories, Feb 1931
--/ cool sf story
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find


"The Thing in the Cellar"
© Weird Tales, Mar 1932
Life Everlasting, 1949
Tales from Underwood, 1952
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

"Unto Us a Child Is Born"
© Amazing, May 1933
--/ cool sf story



"The Worm"
© Amazing, Mar 1929
Tales from Underwood, 1952
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award

-----------------------

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EXPLANATION OF THE RATING SYSTEM:

"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.


All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

Our PERSONAL AWARDS (ratings) are highlighted in RED and PURPLE:
--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

--/ fourth place :

--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)
ALL "BEST OF" LISTS ARE LOCATED HERE

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
- series :
- novella :
- story :
- collection :

Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

--/ idea award
originality of idea / concept

--/ adventure award
exhilarating plot, excitement / action

--/ style award
outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

--/ romance award
intense and beautiful love / relationships

--/ humour award
funny and cool

--/ emotion award
touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

--/ shock value
altogether wild

--/ awesome scale
mind-boggling; further enhances sense-of-wonder

--/ rare find
very hard to locate, mostly from old pulps, never reprinted, etc.

Again, please feel free to leave your own review or comment under every writer's entry; also recommend us other stories you liked.