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Pulp Pleasures: Eando Binder

Guilty Pleasure: Reading Competent, Spectacular Science Fiction in Hard-to-Find Pulps
Part 1 - Eando Binder

Exceptional quality of adventure and sense-of-wonder 1930s-1940s science fiction from brothers Earl Binder and Otto Binder writing as Eando Binder. They also used pen-names: John Coleridge, Gordon Giles, Will Garth

(top left: original unknown; bottom left: writer Otto Binder)

The Rare & the Beautiful... obscure issues of pulp magazines, full of fantastic, engrossing fiction... enter the world of collectible pulps: read our previous issues on DRB SF site: Rare Pulps, Issue 1 and Issue 2.


Eando Binder
"The Black Comet"
(as John Coleridge)
(Mad Moor Series)
© Science Fiction, Jun 1939
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion award
--/ rare find

This story has not been reprinted since its appearance in a pulp - nor any of the stories about the legendary space explorer Mad Moor. And this is a shame, because this series is a perfect example of wide-eyed, enthusiastic, sense-of-wonder fiction so beloved by fans in the 1930s-1940s. This particular installment is somewhat short on the plot and ends quite abruptly, but where it truly shines is describing great space liners, cool-cat space pilots, and conveying the romance and dangers of no-holds-barred (wild west style) space exploration - it even includes a shockingly violent stand-off with hordes of Martians, machine-gunning them to oblivion a la Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch" (1969). Other than that crazy episode, it's a beautiful, smoothly told adventure story - full of excitement and the Glory of the Spaceways!


Eando Binder
"Five Steps To Tomorrow" (nv)

© Startling Stories, Jul 1940
novel: Curtis Books, 1971
--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

Here the Binder Brothers take the Alexander Dumas' classic "The Count of Monte Cristo" plot and set it in space (featuring a huge prison satellite and enough intrigues to feed a crazed imagination of, say, a Cold-War era KGB counter-espionage unit). The "Monte Cristo in Space" plot was later re-used by other science fiction writers, most notably by Alfred Bester in his "Tiger, Tiger". "Five Steps To Tomorrow" is an impressive effort for 1940, but it ultimately failed to grab me, or stay with me for any significant time. Oh well. My opinion of Binder remains high. He is definitely the "pulp king" of short stories, but perhaps the longer form was somewhat of a challenge to him (or to "them", to be exact)...


Eando Binder
"Lost in Alien Dimensions"

(Cosmos: round-robin 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.


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.


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"?).


Eando Binder
"Where Eternity Ends" (nv)
© 1939, Science Fiction, June
--/ fourth place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ emotion award
--/ awesome scale
--/ romance award
--/ rare find

I can share the enthusiasm of early sci-fi fans Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury who wrote letters to Charles Hornig, the editor of this pulp, saying how they appreciated the raw excitement and wonder that this magazine brought to science fiction market of the times! This novel is everything that "sense-of-wonder" space adventure yarn can be - written in spare and concise prose (almost minimalist in style; "Kraftwerk" German electronic music would be a perfect soundtrack for it) and bursting with stupendous ideas and seriously mind-boggling special effects.

This is a Captain Future novel that Edmond Hamilton never written; a "Lost in Space" script for the 1930s, done on steroids; a full-speed-ahead storyline which can potentially be turned into something deeply psychedelic and exciting like Gordon R. Dickson's tour-de-force "Time Storm", perhaps? The idea of traveling to the border of space and time (with accompanying bizarre physics and space-time-continuum-disruption effects at the fringes of this anomaly) is obviously preposterous enough to be super-exciting, although it could only occur in some parallel Universe (talking about suspension of disbelief!). But who cares about plausibility, when you have a great cast of characters (including an evil scientist and his lovely daughter), glorious Edmond-Hamilton-style space vistas, crazy plant-like aliens, and beginning of a glorious romance with a beautiful lady: sounds like a perfect pulp adventure recipe to me!

(art by John Harris)



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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.