THE ARCTIC DEATH (1927) – Written by Wilford Allen, On A Far World, covered below, was a prequel to this same tale. The Arctic Death is set in the 1930s, which was “the near future” when the story was first published.
A mysterious epidemic called the Arctic Death is spreading southward from the North Pole, leaving countless frozen bodies in its wake. Professor Charles Breinbar, the greatest scientific mind of the decade, uses high-tech “Q-Rays” to determine that the victims did not just die of cold but were snuffed out by malign disembodied entities of some sort.
Breinbar devises special insulation which allows him and his assistant to enter the region currently being affected by the spreading wave of fatalities. Investigating the area our heroes witness people dropping dead in the streets after being affected by energy emanating from floating balls of light.
Investigating further, Breinbar determines that the floating balls of light are not true individual entities but can instead join with their source as one big colony creature. He and his assistant trace the path of death to the far north starting point of the Arctic Death epidemic.
Once there the duo encounter an immaterial alien being who is the source of the collective consciousness of the floating lights. This alien telepathically tells our heroes that it has come from a distant universe from where it has hungrily studied the Earth with its ample supply of life forms to feed upon.
Breinbar appeals to the creature’s nobler instincts, trying to talk it into sparing our planet, but the being refuses. Gambling, the scientist presents himself to be absorbed into the alien and once inside the thing’s consciousness he pits his own mind against it.
Charles Breinbar emerges triumphant in the cerebral duel and the world is saved.
The Arctic Death is a fun little tale which put me in mind of the Jon Pertwee/ Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes. +++
ON A FAR WORLD (1928) – The same author presented this prequel the following year. Professor Breinbar the Great came to believe in extraterrestrial life-forms years earlier because he discovered a way of tapping into intergalactic telepathic communications between races from planets light-years apart.
The first time he used this technique it gave him a virtual ringside seat to a genocidal war between worlds. On a distant planet called Dekka a Dekkan physicist named Corring learned that aliens from Drubba – another planet in their solar system – planned to attack.
Thousands of Dekkan years earlier the Drubbans had visited Dekka and were at last following through by launching a planned invasion. With one of Dekka’s moons serving as a base for the Drubbans the invasion began.
The Drubbans consist of two races – brobdingnagian giants who move slowly but are nigh-indestructible, and dwarves who use their great speed to their advantage. Both races used disintegrator rays and similar high-tech weapons against the Dekkans as the war raged.
The Dekkans wiped out the dwarves but the giants proved almost impossible to destroy. Those Drubbans “drubbed” the Dekkan military forces and were hunting down the survivors to kill them all and take possession of the planet.
Corring and some associates tapped into the same type of intergalactic telepathy system that Breinbar has now gained access to. Alien intelligences taught the Dekkans how to create a plague to kill the Drubban invaders but it took forty Dekkan years.
By then the pitifully few Dekkans left alive faced the daunting task of trying to repopulate their world and rebuild their civilization. Back on Earth, Breinbar sensed that the alien informing him about these events was itself in imminent danger of some sort.
The story ended on that unsatisfying note. I speculate that an editor may have forced a change and that Wilford Allen originally may have intended a cliffhanger ending implying that we Earthlings were next on the slate for destruction by any surviving Drubbans out there.
We’ll never know I guess. +++
FOR EIGHT ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES OF ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION CLICK HERE
FOR TEN MORE EXAMPLES OF ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2014/03/03/ten-neglected-examples-of-ancient-science-fiction/
FOR WASHINGTON IRVING’S 1809 depiction of an invasion from the moon click here: https://glitternight.com/2014/05/05/ancient-science-fiction-the-men-of-the-moon-1809-by-washington-irving/
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