Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the remaining short stories featuring Doctor Hackensaw and his supporting cast of reporter Silas Rockett, teen girl Pep Perkins and precocious boy Tintangeles Smith. FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE.
THE SECRET OF THE SUPER-TELESCOPE (August 1923) – Doctor Hackensaw’s new invention, a super-telescope, provides the most detailed looks at Earth’s moon ever seen. A secret civilization is detected and photographed. NOTE: This is the start of the first serialized Hackensaw storyline.
A CAR FOR THE MOON (September 1923) – Dr H and his perky teen sidekick Pep Perkins head for the moon on an interplanetary “car” invented by the wild genius. The space vehicle reaches escape velocity by first being whirled around and around on a Ferris Wheel type of device, then released.
DR HACKENSAW’S TRIP TO THE MOON (October 1923) – On their way to the moon, the doctor and his Girl Friday Pep Perkins deal with the traumas of weightlessness. Pep worries about a false murder charge awaiting her back on Earth if they ever get back.
WHAT HACKENSAW FOUND ON THE MOON (November 1923) – Dr H and Pep explore the super-advanced civilization that thrives under the lunar surface. The Queen of the Moon greets the pair with patience but distance, making it clear that she and her race consider Earthlings primitive and violent based on their video surveillance of them.
Hackensaw and Pep learn that the Queen is a shapeshifter and only appeared human to make them unafraid. She reveals that new moon beings are created chemically, not through sexual reproduction. As a farewell gift to the two Earthlings the Queen provides visual evidence of Pep’s innocence and the identity of the real murderer. They are sent back to Earth and advised not to revisit the moon.
THE SECRET OF THE MEMORY OBLITERATOR (December 1923) – Dr Hackensaw invents a device for dissolving connections between neurons in the brain and uses it to wipe clean memories from criminals to facilitate their rehabilitation.
THE SECRET OF THE SUBMARINE CITY (January 1924) – In his most ambitious project yet, the doctor designs and constructs an entire subaquatic city. He names the place Submarina but the project falls apart when the city is unable to hold back the enormous pressure of the depths and seawater starts to flood in.
THE SECRET OF PERPETUAL YOUTH (February 1924) – Hackensaw creates a process through which human cells rejuvenate themselves. He tests the process on an elderly volunteer. At first all goes well, but in the end nothing can stop the process and the woman ultimately regresses all the way back to a fetus.
THE SECRET OF THE MERMAID (March 1924) – A circus high wire performer falls and her legs are crushed beyond repair. Dr H takes her in, replaces her shattered legs with a mermaid’s tail for awhile and in the end replaces the mermaid tail with new legs which he cloned for her.
THE SECRET OF SIZE (April 1924) – The doctor experiments with inducing gigantism or dwarfism in animal life. At length he causes a cow to grow to dinosaur size. It escapes and goes on a rampage.
AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY HOURS (June 1924) – Hackensaw and Pep fly around the world in just 80 hours to far outdo the tale of Phileas Fogg. Their major obstacle comes in China, where their flying machine is confiscated and they must get it back.
THE SECRET OF THE FLYING HORSE (July 1924) – Dr H creates a mechanical, radium powered winged Pegasus for Pep Perkins. Her flying jaunts land her in trouble in Africa.
THE SECRET OF THE DREAM MACHINE (August 1924) – In a pointless story which provides a spoiler in its own title, Silas Rockett once again wants to time travel via one of Dr Hackensaw’s inventions. He finds himself back in 1776 trying to sell Ben Franklin and others on advanced technology from the future. It turns out that this time Silas was not really traveling in time, he was only dreaming via a programmable dream device of Hackensaw’s.
THE SECRET OF THE GRAVITATION SCREEN (September 1924) – Dr H invents a means of screening out gravity. Despite the obvious practical applications of such antigravity technology our hero winds up not following through until future stories.
THE SECRET OF THE MICROSCOPIC WORLD (October 1924) – The doctor discovers a subatomic world inhabited by humanoid beings. For an extended period he observes their culture and translates their language. In a monumentally stupid finale, the scientist panics at the sight of the subatomic world’s beautiful queen about to be devoured by a dinosaur-like monster and he DESTROYS THE ENTIRE WORLD WITH A DROP OF SULFURIC ACID!? Uh. Yeah. To spare one woman some misery he wipes out an entire world.
THE SECRET OF PERPETUAL MOTION (November 1924) – Hackensaw revives his antigravity screening method and uses it to develop perpetual motion motors. The invention is stolen and must be recovered before global stability is threatened.
THE SECRET OF THE EXTINCT MICROBE (December 1924) – Dr H travels to Egypt where he discovers a microbe amid the paraphernalia of an ancient tomb. He cultivates the microbe and unleashes a plague that infects humans and dogs. An angry mob is about to kill Hackensaw when he rescues himself with a cure which saves all the plague’s victims.
A JOURNEY TO THE YEAR 3000 (January 1925) – Dr Hackensaw and Pep Perkins travel to the year 3000 A.D. Idiotically enough, author Clement Fezandie depicts evolution having changed the human race during this short period of time. Humans of the year 3000 have larger heads and smaller bodies than we do now. In addition they have adopted the weird custom of removing all teeth during infancy and altering the gum tissue to make it hard enough to chew with.
As for technology, books are subatomic sized and are read via microscope-like devices. Bio-engineering has made all germs controllable, and organ transplants are safe and commonplace. When Pep accidentally strikes a person while driving a futuristic vehicle, an escape back to the past is necessary.
THE MYSTERY OF THE Z-RAY SPECTACLES (February 1925) – The doctor perfects Z-Rays, which are even stronger than X-Rays. He works Z-Ray use into spectacles which law enforcement personnel can use. However, crooks steal the spectacles first and the inventions must be recovered.
THE MYSTERY OF THE WALKING SKELETON (March 1925) – Hackensaw constructs an army of mechanical skeletons so that the European colonial powers can use them to put down uprisings in Africa and the Middle East.
THE MYSTERY OF THE RADIO CIPHER MACHINE (April 1925) – Dr H devises a high-tech cipher machine for use in espionage (and romantic) intrigues in Constantinople. Hackensaw is sort of a “Q” figure here.
THE MYSTERY OF ATOMIC ENERGY (May 1925) – The doctor harnesses atomic energy to dig a canal through part of the Sahara Desert, transforming remote locales into thriving seaports. A rival inventor steals the technology and threatens to unleash an atomic explosion in New York City if he is not paid extortion money. The villain is stopped, but part of Central Park is annihilated in the process.
A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (June through September of 1925) – In the other serialized Dr Hackensaw adventure, the scientist uses atomic energy to power an earth-boring device called the Dart. With Pep Perkins riding alongside, Doc travels 1,500 miles beneath the Earth’s surface.
Once there our adventurers discover that our planet is hollow and the center sports a breathable atmosphere but zero gravity. Hackensaw and his sidekick work to counter the zero-g effect and explore. They encounter a variety of life forms, many of which have suction cups on their appendages to simplify their movement in the gravity-free environment.
Hostile life forms include a hominid with a split tail and tentacles for limbs, plus a huge crocodile type of monster. Thanks to the atomic guns that Hackensaw invented, menaces are easily dealt with and the explorers eventually return to the surface.
SOME MINOR INVENTIONS (Amazing Stories, June 1926) – Clement Fezandie’s Dr Hackensaw moved from Science and Invention magazine to Hugo Gernsback’s iconic Amazing Stories. The drama took several steps backward, however, as Hackensaw showed Pep Perkins some new inventions like a voice operated typewriter, a device for calculating a human’s age and a robotic – and therefore supposedly TRULY impartial – judge.
THE SECRET OF THE INVISIBLE GIRL (Amazing Stories, July 1926) – The Dr Hackensaw stories end with a whimper in this unsatisfactory tale. For a colleague, the doctor invented special cameras which don’t need light to take pictures and which can also capture on film the “aura” of living things. (And this was long before Kirlian photography!) The aura of a humanoid girl was caught on film in Africa at a time when our hero’s colleague – Keene – is certain that no girl was around.
Curious, Dr H goes to Africa with his sidekicks and manages to pinpoint the location of the invisible girl through inventions that track her scent and glasses which let him see her aura. He captures the invisible girl and takes her back to New York. Once there he uses clothing and makeup to give the girl a visible appearance but she dies from being taken out of her native environment. How and why she was invisible is never covered, nor are the ethical considerations of Hackensaw removing her from Africa.
FOR 22 MORE 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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