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Wonder Stories, February 1935






WONDER STORIES, FEBRUARY 1935 - FULL REVIEW

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Eando Binder
"The Robot Aliens"
© Wonder Stories, Feb 1935
Wonder Story Annual, 1950

--/ cool sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find


A major novella describing the invasion of "robot aliens" of the title, with the subsequent battles being waged in cities and throughout the countryside. Similar to the "War of the Worlds", this story is just one of many, many such stories about a straightforward (even primitive) Menace from the Skies. Such type of story was eventually brought to its ultimate level of boredom by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle in their "Footfall" - and I figure that the only way to improve on this sub-genre would be to show several such invasions happening at once, with humans merely getting in the way or even completely ignored (as, for example, in 1973 novella "Chains of the Sea" by Gardner Dozois), unaware that aliens are actually trying to wrestle the Earth from its true owners... hamsters, or maybe multi-level marketers :)

By the way, I found a curious info, that "the first use of the word "robot" in the United States was probably in Eando Binder's 1935 story, "The Robot Aliens"... which may also be the first story in which the word "alien" is used to describe an extraterrestrial." I'm not sure if it's true, but this novella certainly created a stir when it appeared, and even earned a reprint.



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Derwin Lesser
"Fatal Glance"
© Wonder Stories, Feb 1935

It has been said that anything imaginable by the human mind is possible. We can imagine only things and combinations of things that we have known and therefore the most fantastic conception is not in the least bit "alien" in its essence. What's more, a thing entirely outside of our realm of experience and existence may even destroy our mind as it enters it. This story takes a "glimpse of an utterly alien world" and turns it into a fatal experience for human observers. There is an interesting side-thought to this: I think I agree with C. S. Lewis, when he says that if we can imagine something, then it's bound to exist somewhere or sometime. The fact that we are created to hope and dream for certain things makes these same things a definite possibility.

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Edmond Hamilton
"The Truth Gas"
© Wonder Stories, Feb 1935
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find


This is a predictable story about what would happen if everybody told the truth... especially governments (it includes a cool jab towards Soviet propaganda, which was already notoriously known in the West). By the way, it is still a mystery to me how many officials in America were swooned and deluded by Stalin's lies during the infamous trials, and even wrote of the Soviet Union as a well-run and organized state. Were they sincere in missing the truth? The lies were certainly grandiose enough...

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David Keller
"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.

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