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Edward E. 'Doc' Smith

(from "Triplanetary")
(Lensman series)
© Amazing, Jan 1934
Journey To Infinity, 1950
--all-time series : 1966 Hugo
--/ cool sf story


"The Challenge from Beyond"
(Round-robin serial: sf part + weird fantasy part)
© Fantasy Magazine, Sep 1935
The Challenge from Beyond, 1990
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find

The Ultimate SF&F Collectible! An extremely rare "round-robin" serial, published in the impossibly hard-to-get magazine (almost a fanzine) and only recently reprinted as a limited-edition chapbook. The similar SF round-robin serial "Cosmos" from "Fantasy Magazine" is also hard-to-find: it's been reprinted only in "Perry Rhodan" magazine, of all places! It's time for somebody to publish these serials together as one paperback... The best pulp writers at the time were asked to submit a story episode, and they all did - this tells you what an unpretentious and enthusiastic crowd they were - each keeping his or her own signature style, together making a sort of "Who's Who" catalogue of the fantastic pulps. The science fiction episodes were written by Stanley Weinbaum, Donald Wandrei, Doc Smith, Harl Vincent, and Murray Leinster. The weird fantasy parts were written by C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long. So far I have only read a few episodes, but let me tell you, it's almost like coming to the most delicious smorgasbord of all times... vintage and delectable stuff all over.
review: 30-Sep-06 (read in 2002)


"Course Perilous!"
(also as "The Robot Nemesis")
(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.


"First Lensman" (nv)
(Lensman series)
© 1950, Fantasy Press
--novel : 2001 Retro Hugo
--/ fourth place space sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale

"The Imperial Stars" (nv)
( Family d'Alembert )
(with Stephen Goldin)
© IF, May 1964
book: 1976, Ace books

"Lord Tedric" (nv)
(Tedric series)
© Universe, Mar 1954
book: Futura, 1970
--/ cool sf novel

"Masters of the Vortex" (nv)
(also as "The Vortex Blaster")
© Comet Stories, Jul 1941
book: 1960, Gnome Press
--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ awesome scale

"Pirates Of Space"
(from "Triplanetary")
(Lensman series)
© Amazing, Jan 1934
Fantasy Press, 1948
--all-time series : 1966 Hugo
--/ fourth place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale

"The Robot Nemesis"
(also as "What A Course!")
(Cosmos round-robin series)
© Fantasy Magazine, Jul 1934
Thrilling Wonder Stories, Jun 1939
Startling Stories, Jul 1950

--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ awesome scale
--/ rare find


"The Skylark Of Space" (nv)
(Skylark Series # 1)
© Amazing Stories, Aug 1928
book: 1946, Fantasy Press
--/ cool sf novel


"The Skylark of Valeron" (nv)
(Skylark series #3)
© Astounding Stories, Aug-Oct 1934
Fantasy Press, 1949
--/ cool space sf novel
--/ awesome scale

"As the mighty spaceship Skylark roved the intergalactic world, scientist Richard Seaton and his companions uncovered a world of disembodied intelligences. A world of four dimensions where time was insanely distorted and matter obeyed no terrestrial laws... where three-dimensional intellects were barely sufficient to thwart invisible mentalities!"

The Skylark series did not click with me, mostly because of incredibly clunky narrative style... no matter how forgiving I decide to be, dealing with 4 pages of narration recounting the events of previous books (conveniently told by a child to his mother: incredibly amateurish writing trick) is just too much. Sure, it's got bigger scale than the previous books, and a 1000km long spaceship, and all kinds of extra-dimensional mumbo jumbo. But I can't adore "Pontiac Aztec" no matter how bustling with features it promises to be. The Skylark series is just too cartoonish. Good for comic books, I suppose.


"Storm Cloud on Deka"
(The Vortex Blaster series)
© Astonishing Stories, Jun 1942
Super Science Stories, Jul 1942 Canada

The Vortex Blaster, 1960
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"The Strangler's Moon" (nv)
(with Stephen Goldin)
(The Family D'Alembert Series # 2)
© 1976, Pocket Books

"Subspace Survivors"
(Subspace series)
© Astounding, Jul 1960
Subspace Explorers, 1965
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"Tedric" (nv)
(Tedric series)
© Other Worlds, Mar 1953
book: Futura, 1970

"Triplanetary" (nv)
(Lensman # 1)
© Amazing Stories, Jan 1934
book : Fantasy Press, 1948
--all-time series : 1966 Hugo
--/ fourth place space sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale

"The Vortex Blaster" (nv)
(Lensmen Universe)
(also as "Masters of the Vortex")
© Comet Stories, Jul 1941
book : 1960, Gnome Press
--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ awesome scale

"The Vortex Blaster Makes War"
(The Vortex Blaster series)
© Astonishing Stories, Oct 1942
Super Science Stories, Feb 1942 Canada

The Vortex Blaster, 1960
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

"What A Course!"
(also as "The Robot Nemesis")
(Cosmos round-robin series)
© Fantasy Magazine, Jul 1934
Thrilling Wonder Stories, Jun 1939

--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ awesome scale
--/ rare find


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Collecting Pulp Magazines

Ephemera Interview with Avi Abrams

Enchanting Victorian Fairy Tale Art

"Then world behind and home ahead..."

Exceptional British Scifi Artwork from the 1950s

Space Pulp Art by Ron Turner and other British artists

Pulp Pleasures: Eando Binder

Great space adventure fiction from the 1930s
"Where Eternity Ends" and other rare gems

Epic Fantasy: the Start of the Journey

Part 2 of our "Best Classic Fantasy" series
incl. works by Henry Kuttner, Tolkien, etc.

Strange Shadows: Best Classic Fantasy

Fantasy "glitches in the matrix",
...lovely baroque magical lands, and more

Classic Cyberpunk SF Novels: Reviews

Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, K. W. Jeter, et al
(awesome must-reads)

10 Possible Sources of "Avatar" in Classic Science Fiction

Going beyond the obvious "Dances with Smurfs"...
(many stories worth reading)

"Steampunk" Anthology: Full Review

some truly crazed stories in there...
(plus artwork by John Coulthart)

"Dune", Plus Often-Neglected
Other Novels by Frank Herbert

"Dune", plus some overlooked gems:
"The Santaroga Barrier" and "The Green Brain"

Universe at Play:
Two Must-Read Novels of the Fantastic

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon...
and David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas"

Two of the Most Entertaining SF Novels from the 1980s

"Vacuum Flowers" by Michael Swanwick...
and Tim Power's "The Anubis Gates", of course!

"The Body Snatchers" and Other Alien Pods

Fiction by Jack Finney, Vance, Simak and Bloch
mind impostors and emotion imitators

Exploring the Noir and the Grotesque

Jack O'Connell "The Resurrectionist"
and other newest examples of the bizarre

Overpopulation, Sex and Sensibility

Robert Silverberg's "The World Inside"
and other classic sf blasts

H. P. Lovecraft "At the Mountains of Madness"

and other masterpieces of terror
including original illustrations

"Constellations", edited by Peter Crowther

original anthology, 2005
full review: mind-bending stories

The Ultimate Guide to New Writers of SF&F

more than 2,000 writers, 1990-2009
Ratings, awards, web links

The Surreal Office

"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
Weird fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Vernor Vinge

Mind-shattering Novels of Philip K. Dick

"UBIK", "Now Wait for Last Year", etc.

Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human"

There’s a problem with this new gestalt being: needs a conscience.

Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
The ultimate weapon, controlled by a gorgeous woman

Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
Epic space opera gems and horror surprises

Rare Pulp SF&F, Issue 3

Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
Rediscovered gems of wonder & adventure

William Gibson's Novels

"Pattern Recognition", "Neuromancer"
A Fractured Delight...

Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"

"Bester was the mountain, all the rest of us..."
Pyrokinetic writing in one neat package

Two Novels by Samuel R. Delany

"Nova" and "Babel-17"
New Wave Milestones, and then some.

Theodore Sturgeon's "The Cosmic Rape"

(and more reviews of his fiction)
Classic SF at its best and most humane

Travel Distant Worlds!

Vintage Space Travel Posters, and more.
Part 3 of Pulp Sf art series...

Alastair Reynolds' Epic Novels

"Chasm City" and "Revelation Space"
And it's only the beginning...

Rare Fantasy Gems by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Hidden Gems of Pulp Fiction
When two star writers become husband and wife

Grand Old Times... in the Future

Overview of Pulp Art
A Loudly Lurid Universe of Sci-Fi Illustration

Exclusive: Interview with Nancy Kress

From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction
A Spectrum of Wonder

Jack Vance

"To Live Forever"
and other Vance extravaganzas

Alastair Reynolds

"Pushing Ice"
Cosmological "noir" chase across space

Charles Stross

"Missile Gap"
Mind-bending Cold War world-building

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 2

Rare stories from the "Age of Wonder"
incl. David Keller, Horace Gold etc.

Ultra-Rare Serials from "Fantasy Magazine"

"Cosmos" + "Challenge From Beyond"
incredible line-up of writers

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 1

Neat & Rare Stories
incl. the mad rally story "The Racer"

Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
incl. Gallun, Schachner, Campbell

Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
incl. Heinlein, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell

Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

"Apocalyptic Blockbusters"
"Inflexure" and "Spawn": guilty pleasure

Interview with John C. Wright

Plus his advice to new writers
Adventures in Space & Magic

Frank Belknap Long

"The Horror from the Hills"
Great Lovecraftian Weird Novella

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Plus his Recommended Reading List
A Triumph of the Bizarre

Alastair Reynolds, Part 2

More "Galactic North" Stories
A Mixture of Hard Sf, James Bond & Jaws...

Alastair Reynolds Review

"Galactic North"
staring down infinity...

Most Shocking Article

"Holey Fools" by M. Christian
Warning: Gross Subject Matter

Alfred Bester Review

"The Stars My Destination"
"...nail it to the Retro Hugo voting board..."

Larry Niven Review

"Neutron Star"
"better get GP alien ship hull"

Poul Anderson Review

"Ensign Flandry"
"or how to start a sub-genre..."

Thomas M. Disch Review

"The Squirrel Cage"
"...seriously mind-bending stuff..."

Henry Kuttner Review

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (The Last Mimzy)
"...great storyline for a pretty average movie..."

Robert A. Heinlein Review

"The Moon is the Harsh Mistress"
" caused a tooth ache, and put my brain on freeze..."

Frank Herbert Review

"Destination: Void"
"...a layered cake of ideas and a scientific extrapolation on a genius level..."

Harlan Ellison Review

"The Abnormals"
"...editors slapped the most outrageous titles on his stories..."

James White Review

"All Judgement Fled"
"...the tension is palpable, soon to grow almost unbearable..."

Grand Adventure Strikes Again

Space Opera Article, by Avi Abrams
Based on Arthur Clarke's "Against the Fall of Night"

William Gibson Review

"Burning Chrome"
"...sheer pyrotechnics and exuberance of style..."

Ace Double: Murray Leinster

"The Pirates of Ersatz /The Mutant Weapon"
"...the characters might as well be cats or hamsters..."

Astounding Stories, May 1935

Pulp SF Magazine Review
with many original illustrations

Also read recent posts:
Author's Pen Names - Most Complete List Ever
The Wonder Timeline: SF&F Restrospective
Space Adventure Article



"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)

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.