More than 10,000 books and stories rated and reviewed! - About this site

Home A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z Pen names
reviews of books and stories by author's name
SF&F Timeline 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000-Now Best!
retrospective look at sf&f year-by-year
The Ultimate Guide to New SF&F Writers (from 1990 till now)

Astounding Stories, May 1935



John Russel Fearn
"Earth's Mausoleum"
© Astounding Stories, May 1935
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ awesome scale
--/ rare find

The Sun is destroyed and the Moon transformed into a miniature sun... Stupendous stuff. Every chapter leads to something larger and more exciting in a good old Doc Smith tradition. It does not shine in literary qualities, but for the pure "summer blockbuster" of pulp entertainment, this is a very good pick. This novelette also describes the process of terra-forming with wonderful detail for 1935. Some memorable scenes will stay with the reader: for example, the energy tower, depicted on the pulp cover, designed to turn our Moon into a small star. (let's not go into the science of it here)


John W. Campbell
"The Escape"

(as by Don A. Stuart)
© Astounding Stories, May 1935
Cloak of Aesir, 1952
--/ cool sf story

"An odd love story forms the core of "The Escape," where a brave new world relies on neural coercion to enforce matings." I found this story not to the usual Campbell standards, but still engaging. "The Cloak of Aesir" collection in general left me unmoved, mostly because Campbell adopts a more dry, academic, flat narrative style in these stories. Which is strange, considering that he usually chose the pen-name Don A. Stuart to go with his more emotional, atmospheric pieces, such as "Twilight" or "Night".


Eando Binder
"Set Your Course by the Stars"
© Astounding Stories, May 1935
--/ cool sf story
--/ idea award
--/ rare find

This is a strange story based on a simple "what if" premise, played out between two space explorers: what if there was no diffusion of light in open space, and light from the infinite Universe could effortlessly add up before reaching our eyes? In this story the space pilot explains why he could not set course by the stars: the space around him was WHITE from a lot more stars than anybody expected... Remember the vision of "inverted" star-fields that astronaut Dave Bowman sees at the end of "2001: A Space Odyssey"? Black stars strewn over white space? Well, it seems that Earl and Otto Binder brothers beat Arthur Clarke to such a spectacular sight by 30 years at least.

According to the story, this crazy notion of "white space" could prove why our Universe is not eternal or infinite, because if that was true, then the combined light from all infinite and eternal stars would hit us from the heavens, and there could be no darkness. Maybe in some alternative world, with different set of physics... Certainly not in our case, but that fact should not prevent you from enjoying this simple "what-if" thought-variant story (perhaps a precursor to Isaac Asimov's classic "Nightfall"?).


Stanton A. Coblentz
"An Episode In Space"
© Astounding Stories, Sep 1935
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ rare find

Standard fare for the pulps of the Thirties, but in no way easy to find today. When did you last read a very straightforward story about landing on a forbidding planet, meeting creepy inhabitants in caves, being attacked by them, and shooting them all to hoobenajeebies, or smithereens, whichever you prefer. Kind of a computer game without a monitor or a joystick. As such, it is colorful, with good "resolution" graphics, logical and satisfying script. They DID stop writing such stories as early as the Forties, so this sub-genre is fast receding into literary oblivion, leaving behind crumbling pulp pages instead of red-shift.


Donald Wandrei
"The Whisperers"
© Astounding Stories, May 1935
Avon SF Reader, Feb 1947
Strange Harvest, 1965
--/ cool apocalyptic sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award

Another strange tale. The world is experiencing the worst plague in history (described quite vividly, including some Soviet propaganda press-releases). Something infects people and makes a strange whispering sound in their bodies as it kills them off... It turns out that this sound is the full blast of microscopic civilizations of sentient aliens who also have a much faster time rate, so after entering the human body they evolve, have an epic history and an apocalyptic finish - all in a matter of hours! As though this idea was not wild enough, Wandrei tells us about the remedy - getting drunk and making these industrious "virus" civilizations finish themselves sooner; in other words, stressing out these little buggers with a totally mad (drunk) rat race. Do you sense an irony here?


Raymond Z. Gallun
© Astounding Stories, May 1935
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find

This is an uninvolving planetary tale about a strange civilization, and a quest of a particular being toward... greater heights of... I did not really care much for this character, but the story environment is professionally told and weird, as usual.


David R. Daniels

© Astounding Stories, May 1935
--/ cool sf story

Average stuff. Two marooned spacemen debate should they go on to the stars; being in a hopeless situation, they choose exploring over slow death.


J. George Frederick
"The Einstein Express"

© Astounding Stories, May 1935
--/ cool sf story
--/ awesome scale

A curious debate over how a superior being (the size of a Galaxy or larger) would see the surrounding Universe and travel in it by macroscopic "steps". Such movements would surely defy the "speed-of-light" limit, just like our cars would seem to move with stupendous speed from "a tiny molecular being's" viewpoint. Size does matter; with another scale come another laws of physics (if you doubt that, observe completely different laws of quantum and astro-physics, and the bridge between them that is, well, missing). As for how our Universe might look "from an outside point of view", a series of amazing extrapolation pictures were published recently, showing the clusters of clusters of Galaxies, which seem to join together in strands, knots - weirdly similar to... neurons and structures inside a human brain. Think about that.

This is the recent NASA computer model of the "Large Scale Structure" - meta-clusters of Galaxy Superclusters, in other words the view of our Universe from the "outside". Is this the ultimate shape of our cosmos, or just "neurons" in an even larger-scale order?..


John Taine
"Twelve Eighty-Seven"

© Astounding Stories, May 1935
--/ cool sf story

Simply a future-warfare story... but considering the direction human history was going in 1935, this story carries a creepy premonition. The tank war (see illustration) and the bomber squadrons depicted in the story bear an uncanny resemblance to the ones from WWII, but also to their Cold War era variants. Such "dark military optimism" often appeared in the pre-war pulps, and was supposed to stir up patriotism, because the war in general needs as much patriotism, ideology and propaganda as it can possibly gobble up.


In general, this is a great issue, a veritable "Who's Who" in the Thirties Pulp Scene: just look at the contents: Campbell, Binder, Wandrei, Coblentz, Gallun, Fearn ! Harl Vincent does not have a story in this issue, but - surprise! - his name can be plainly seen on the cover! Looks like somebody goofed up (making this issue more collectible, I suppose), or he got pushed out in order to make way for the "bigger guns".

Click to go to "Dark Roasted Blend" site



Post a Comment

<< Home


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.