Tag Archives: Science fiction


Reader Daniel Kibblesmith reminded Balladeer’s Blog that I had not followed up my reviews and revisions of the original Killraven stories (1973-1976) at Marvel Comics with my usual collection of links in one handy blog post. Here we go:

Killraven 1WAR OF THE WORLDS – Jonathan Raven, rechristened Killraven in the gladiatorial circuit of Earth’s alien conquerors of the “future,” leads a group of Freemen in an attempt to retake the planet. CLICK HERE   

THE SIRENS OF SEVENTH AVENUE – After learning the truth about Earth’s alien conquerors AND about his possession of “The Power” (a pre-Star Wars variation of the Force), Killraven leads his Freemen against genetically modified women called Sirens as well as against assorted other post-apocalyptic threats. CLICK HERE

Killraven WarlordTHE WARLORD STRIKES – On the run after the destruction of their Staten Island rebel colony, Killraven and his Freemen run afoul of the Warlord, a human quisling who has wanted revenge against the rebel leader ever since he escaped from the gladiatorial pens. CLICK HERE 

THE MUTANT SLAYERS – The Freemen are joined by scientist Carmilla Frost and her monstrous creation Grok as they battle the Warlord and an assortment of mutated Earth creatures and deadly beasts from the aliens’ home planet. CLICK HERE  Continue reading

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Blue Book May 1912TALES OF TWENTY HUNDRED (1911-1912) – Written by William Wallace Cook, originally serialized in the monthly publication Blue Book Magazine from December of 1911 to May of 1912. This is Balladeer’s Blog’s third look at a work by THE William Wallace Cook and in this case it’s a six-part serial consisting of a half-dozen interconnected short(ish) stories.

PART ONE: THE BILLION DOLLAR CARGO (December 1911) – The year is 2050 A.D. Airships run by solar energy fill the skies while land vehicles are powered by radium engines. At hospitals “germicide treatments” can heal people of virtually any illness. Mind-reading machines called psychographs are used to read the thoughts of people who are on trial.

The United States, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Austria and the nations of Scandinavia comprise a huge geopolitical entity called the Quadruple Alliance. That alliance’s greatest global rival is the Federated States of South America, made up of the nations of Central and South America. 

masc chair and bottleGeo-engineering on a massive scale has become possible. Wealthy industrialist Vincent Blake has already completed a project involving the elimination of the Aleutian Islands to allow the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean to turn the Arctic region into a place with more moderate temperatures. Hilariously, this is depicted as having no adverse effects on the planet. (Hey, it’s a 1911 story.) 

Next on the schedule for Blake is an even more ambitious project – he plans to straighten the Earth’s axis and provide mild summer conditions year-round all over the world. This type of absurd notion was also featured in the 1894 book A Journey in Other Worlds, previously reviewed here at Balladeer’s Blog.

In that earlier story the establishment of year-round moderate weather was presented as a fait accompli and had had no negative side-effects. In this tale the Federated States of South America are convinced that Vincent Blake’s project will negatively impact them and launch violent plans to stop him. Continue reading

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A Round Trip to the Year 2000A ROUND TRIP TO THE YEAR 2000 aka A FLIGHT THROUGH TIME (1903) – Written by THE William Wallace Cook, this story was originally serialized in Argosy magazine from July through November of 1903. 

A Round Trip to the Year 2000 has the same light-hearted, jocular approach that we associate with the Back to the Future movies. The fact that the time travel device is a reconfigured automobile adds another similarity.

In the year 1900, New York author Emerson Lumley has written a book about the possible uses of the subconscious mind. A criminal took advantage of Lumley’s methods in the book to hypnotize the author into robbing a bank and Emerson is now on the run from the law, with his most dogged pursuer being police detective Jasper Klinch.

Lumley is contemplating suicide when he receives help from the midget scientist named Dr Alonso Kelpie. The good doctor takes Emerson to the laboratory on his estate. He offers Lumley the chance to drive Kelpie’s newly-invented time-coupe into the future, specifically the year 2000. In return Alonso wants his chrononaut to bring back assorted information when the coast is clear.

1903 FordSince Lumley was already on the verge of ending his life anyway, he agrees to be the human guinea pig for Dr Kelpie’s time-car. Just as he’s driving off to the future, however, the relentless Detective Klinch shows up and leaps into the vehicle beside our hero.

The pair grapple as the car drives through the time-stream and Lumley knocks Klinch off the car and into the year 1950 while he continues the trip to the year 2000. Continue reading

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Struggle for EmpireTHE STRUGGLE FOR EMPIRE: A STORY OF THE YEAR 2236 (1900) – Written by Robert W Cole. I left out the first half of the title for the headline, since The Struggle For Empire sounds like a mundane history book. In reality this novel was a very, very early example of the Space Opera sub-genre.  

In 2236 A.D. Earth’s dominant geopolitical entity is the Anglo-Saxon Federal Union, consisting of Great Britain, the United States and Germany. This union of nations came about during a World War that was fought during the early Twentieth Century. That conflict pitted the Americans, British and Germans against the French and the Russians.

The Anglo-Saxon Federal Union emerged triumphant, with France carved up and lost to the mists of history. (The author was British.) London, now a megalopolis spreading out for hundreds of miles, is the Earth’s capital city. It also serves as the capital for the star-spanning empire which Earthlings have established.

Mascot sword and pistolInitially the Earth colonized and inhabited the planets and certain moons of our own solar system all the way out to Neptune. (Pluto was not discovered until 1930.) In a quaint quasi-Steam-Punk way, all of those planets and moons have Earth-like atmospheres and conditions.

The perfection of anti-gravity and other technology led to the construction of space ships that could fly at the speed of ten million miles per hour. Robert W Cole takes H.G. Wells’ colonialism analogy from War of the Worlds into space, as humanity is depicted settling and colonizing planets in multiple star systems.

Earthlings also stripped uninhabitable planets of all their minerals, precious metals and other natural resources. Power and greed rule the zeitgeist. Complications arise when humanity at last encounters another intelligent race in the 23rd Century.     Continue reading


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The StrangerTHE STRANGER – Given the current uproar over the disastrous Chibnall retcon, Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the “brief shining moment” when Colin Baker was starring in what is often called a bootleg Doctor Who series. Less antagonistic interpretations call the BBV series a pastiche or a knowing “homage” to Doctor Who.  

When The Stranger series of stories first came out it was a few years after the original run of Doctor Who was over. For the many Colin Baker fans who felt he got robbed of an opportunity to shine as the Doctor for reasons beyond his control, these episodes were basically just barely-concealed stories featuring Colin’s regeneration of the timelord from Gallifrey. 


*** Colin Baker went from playing an enigmatic traveler in time and space known only as the Doctor to playing an enigmatic traveler in time and space known only as the Stranger.     

Colin Baker*** The most popular companion of Baker’s Doctor was Peri Brown, played by Nicola Bryant. The Stranger’s companion was “Miss Brown,” played by Nicola Bryant.

*** The Doctor and his companions traveled in a time/space vehicle called the Tardis. The Stranger and his companions traveled in a never-seen vehicle coyly referred to as their “mode of transportation.” Continue reading


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FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below. 

Killraven cornerKILLRAVEN: THE END

My final Killraven post will look at the last few story elements that writer Don McGregor transferred from KR’s canceled Marvel series over to his independent Sabre series at Eclipse Comics. For my detailed look at how McGregor used many Killraven elements in the 1978 Sabre graphic novel click HERE .

Regular readers know I give Don McGregor a lot of praise for his work on Panther’s Rage and on the Killraven stories at Marvel, at least until his half-assed, rushed and unsatisfying KR graphic novel in 1983 (see previous installment). Unfortunately the 1983-1985 Sabre series at Eclipse Comics represented McGregor’s writing at its worst.

With hindsight we readers can see that, back at Marvel, the editors clearly reined in Don’s tendency toward self-indulgent and pretentious rambling. Over at Eclipse there were no such constraints on him, making the 1983-1985 Sabre stories unbearable to read. The series went from bi-monthly to quarterly to “whenever” and was mercifully axed with its 14th issue.

Sabre 5This final Killraven installment will deal with just two issues of Sabre. One that reflects what KR and his band of Freemen would have faced had they reached their Yellowstone Park destination before their 1973-1976 series was canceled, and one that reflects another adventure that the rebellious Freemen might have faced on their long odyssey to Yellowstone.


As the overall title for this Sabre story would indicate, any sense of subtlety was now beyond Don McGregor. If further proof is needed, the main villain in this tale is named Joyful Slaughter. Seriously.       Continue reading


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FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL COMICS STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven in his glory daysKILLRAVEN GRAPHIC NOVEL (1983)

Chapter Four: Let It Die Like It’s The Fourth Of July

SYNOPSIS: February, 2020, or 37 years in the future, like it would have been to readers in 1983. Killraven and his Freemen continue their guerilla war against Earth’s alien conquerors.

Their current target, as this four-chapter story comes to a close, is Cape Canaveral. The site has been upgraded with alien tech and serves as both a fortress for the aliens and as a hub of the High Overlord’s Project Regenesis. The High Overlord himself is currently inside the Cape personally overseeing the final stages of this project.

With him is Keeper Saunders, the human quisling who separated Killraven (Jonathan Raven) from his brother Joshua Raven when they were children.     Continue reading


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