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Horace Gold & P. Schuyler Miller:
Apocalyptic Blockbusters



These stories were reprinted in Forrest J. Ackerman's Archival Recovery, or "The Time Vault" feature that he ran in paperback issues of "Perry Rhodan". Pretty hard-to-find, spectacular stuff from the Golden Age of the Pulps.

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Horace Gold
(as Clyde Crane Campbell)
"Inflexure"

© Astounding Stories, October 1934
(first story)
--/ fourth place apocalyptic sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award: time & dimensional storms
--/ awesome scale
--/ rare find

Clunky style, mind-boggling scale, epic "global disaster" canvas, a guilty treat to all lovers of pulp fiction, this crazy tale has everything, defining the genre of "apocalyptic pot-boiler": the obligatory drunk (yet still brilliant) scientist, prehistoric monsters crawling out of every hole, the element of surprise by an imminent, unavoidable doom, and most of all - the lasting image of Earth being saved by a cohort of hardened scientists in a huge battered airship. Come to think of it, the premise is quite intricate and spectacular even by the "wonder" standards of 30s Astounding: a fourth-dimensional star passes through the Solar System, turning Earth's dimensions inside-out and rotating time plane perpendicular to all other dimensions (don't ask). No wonder scientists get drunk in droves, unable to even start to explain this swirling, ROYAL MESS. Among the side-effects of this extra-dimensional star collision: ALL past and future inhabitants of Earth appear on its surface at once, creating hilarious religious and political repercussions. Gold has a blast describing individual and totalitarian ways to cope with such global heresy. The sudden collapse of all physical laws lead to stupendous human suffering, in some ways reflecting the fears and premonitions of pre-war era. With enough ideas to fill rows of books, this story predates such classics as "Riverworld" of Philip Jose Farmer and "Time Storm" by Gordon R. Dickson (they might, or might not have read it, but their books seem to be written as "Inflexure" remakes). The ultimate doom is (surprisingly) delayed by the titanic effort of past & future science geniuses, but then, sure enough, humanity turns to mutual extermination with a renewed vigor, and more apocalyptic visions soon follow.

I loved this "wonder soup". It seems that Gold has put all of his "pulp-blockbuster" ideas and "hackish" writing energies into this, his very first, tale - and then continued to write significantly less frantic, and frankly, more boring science fiction & fantasy.
review: 23-Dec-07 (read in 2007)

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P. Schyler Miller
"Spawn"

© Weird Tales, Aug 1939
The Titan, 1950
--/ second place apocalyptic sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award: Elemental Monsters
--/ style award
--/ awesome scale
--/ emotion award
--/ shock value
--/ rare find

Some stories are docile and can be easily re-told by the campfire, or in a circle of friends; some stories are so ferocious and wild, that you can only shake your head, utter "what the heck was that?" and forget trying to tell someone about the experience. How could anyone convey the steam-roller impact of crushing imagery and seriously twisted cataclysmic events, over-the-top emotional charge and enough horrific visuals to make any special effects producer sweat with professional envy? This is a shocking story, which inherits some fearsome atmosphere from H. P. Lovecraft, some from Clark Ashton Smith, some from Donald Wandrei. The mesmerizing, almost trance-like narrative, which only gets weirder with every page until it reaches some feverish pitch that no writer or reader can sustain for long. You are almost exhausted by the time the story ends... It's enough to say that even seasoned dark fantasy writers of the period (Henry Kuttner, for example) were overwhelmed and deeply impacted by it.

The Elemental Beings arise from sinister spores: the carnivorous ocean, the hungry gold-mountain, the undead prophet and his undead spawns - all wage battles against each other and against stunned mankind. All this looks and feels like Japanese disaster animation on drugs, 50 years ahead of its time. Add to it some kind of Russian revolution "red terror" mad marriage with Apocalypsis. I guarantee you, you will never forget the imagery in this warped tale, for better or for worse.
review: 23-Jan-07 (read in 2007)

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