Tag Archives: Science fiction

PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: HIS FINAL STORY

Northwest Smith no letteringBalladeer’s Blog concludes its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed our solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

13. SONG IN A MINOR KEY – For this farewell vignette featuring Northwest Smith we get an oddly touching piece that enhances Smith’s character without ruining the mystery. He and Yarol are back on Earth to visit the spot where Northwest committed his first crime exactly 20 years earlier, setting his life on its present course.

Northwest Smith 3He reveals that Northwest Smith is not his real name (Well, duh! I always figured his real name was Northwest Rabinowitz.) and is uncharacteristically serious- minded as he soaks in the atmosphere of the woodland area where his fate was determined so long ago.  

Our melancholy outlaw ruefully ponders his life that might have been and the woman he might have shared that life with. He contemplates the home they might have had together and more as we get tantalizing glimpses into Smith’s past here in this place … where he killed his first man. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES ELEVEN AND TWELVE

Northwest Smith frenchBalladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed our solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

11. QUEST OF THE STAR STONE (1937) – It’s crossover time! C.L. Moore decided to do a story in which her two most famous pulp creations – Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry – meet each other. Trouble is Jirel’s adventures take place around the year 1500 while Northwest Smith’s stories are set over 1,000 years later. Any reader of pulp fiction knows that’s no real obstacle so let’s dive in.

Jirel of JoiryThe story opens in Jirel’s time. She is leading her obedient band of male outlaws in an assault on the castle of a sorceror named Franga. Our sword-wielding heroine battles her way through to Franga’s chamber where she seizes a mystic gem called the Star Stone. That jewel is so powerful but so unfathomable that even Franga was still trying to discover how to harness its arcane energies. Jirel defeats Franga and forces him to flee between dimensions, but as he leaves he promises Jirel that he’ll return to get revenge on her and get the Star Stone back – just as soon as he finds a champion capable of matching Jirel’s courage, cunning and force of will. “No matter what world or what time I find them in” he adds, letting the reader know what’s coming up. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER FORTY-SIX: MAY 1911

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE

Fool Killer picPART FORTY-SIX – Items of note in the May of 1911 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s version of The Fool-Killer:

*** Pearson’s Fool Killer figure targeted money-obsessed clergymen and pretended they wanted a new version of the Ten Commandments emphasizing profits.

*** The Fool Killer targeted the way so many corrupt millionaires were suddenly overcome with “medical ailments” when they were being investigated or after getting sentenced to prison time. 

*** In another of the surreal satirical bits which Pearson was writing more frequently, this month he had the Fool Killer encounter a medical abomination called the Composite Man. The Fool Killer visited the Rockefeller Institute in New York (called the Rocky D Oilyfeller Institute in Pearson’s odd stylistic blend of Frank Baum and Walt Kelly with Bullwinkle & Rocky).

              The reason for the visit? Our title character wanted to check in on the latest work on medical transplants. The doctors at the institute surgically removed the lone healthy body part on a variety of their most far-gone patients and sewed them all into a lone figure called the Composite Man and the Pieced-Up Man interchangeably.

              The Composite Man had the head of a preacher, the chest of a drummer, the heart of a lawyer, the stomach and bowels of a farmer, the left arm of a blacksmith, the right arm of an editor, one leg of a dude and the other leg came from a tramp. The competing portions of the Composite Man’s anatomy not only prevented him from accomplishing any one undertaking but resulted in him breaking into his component parts and dying within one day of his release. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES NINE AND TEN

Northwest Smith 6Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

9. LOST PARADISE (1936) – A smuggling job has taken Northwest Smith and Yarol to Earth. Afterward the pair find themselves relaxing in New York City which, in their era, is a multi-leveled metropolis reaching high into the sky.

The pair witness the theft of an enigmatic parcel from a very small and fragile man. That man turns out to be a member of the Seles race; a people who have secretly lived among humans for millions of years. The Seles are so ancient in fact that they lived on Earth long before the continents had their present shape. The tectonic shifts that created the modern-day layout of the planet destroyed the cities of the Seles, who established subterranean bases where they have lived undetected by humanity since then. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES SEVEN AND EIGHT

Northwest Smith coverBalladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930′s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

7. THE COLD GRAY GOD (1935) – A smuggling jaunt has brought Northwest Smith back to Mars. While hanging out in the cold and snowy Martian city of Righa our hero gets hired by a most unusual client. Her name is Jaida, a beautiful Venusian woman who years previously had been THE singing sensation of the Cabaret circuit at the network of casinos and leisure resorts of Jupiter’s colonized moons. At the height of her fame Jaida turned her back on success and went into seclusion.

It turns out the former singer “found religion” in the form of the esoteric worship of The Un-Nameable One, the god of Mars’ distant past. The god is worshipped now only by super-secretive cults throughout the solar system; cults which claim to know the secrets of the ancient lettering which adorns most Martian households but whose meaning has long been forgotten. Jaida hires Smith to recover a stolen relic of the dark religion from the Righa crook who nabbed it. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES FIVE AND SIX

Northwest Smith: C.L. Moore's ruthless swashbuckler of the spaceways.

Northwest Smith: C.L. Moore’s ruthless swashbuckler of the spaceways.

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

5. JULHI (1935) – After a smuggling run to Venus Northwest Smith foolishly lets his guard down in an underworld tavern and gets shanghaied away to the Venusian island called Vonng. Smith is the latest kidnap victim from lowlife hangouts to wake up weaponless on the deserted island as a sacrifice to Julhi, a lovely yet monstrous creature with a beautiful upper body but multiple lower limbs.

Julhi is just one of a race whose dimension shares the same space as Vonng’s crumbled ruins but where time passes much more slowly than in our realm. The story wouldn’t be out of place on the renewed Doctor Who series. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH: STORIES THREE AND FOUR

Northwest Smith 3Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930’s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here:  https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

3. SCARLET DREAM (1934) – Once again lying low between illegal activities of some sort Northwest Smith finds himself in the Martian city of Lakkmanda. The city’s illicit markets are legendary throughout the solar system and Smith buys a very odd scarlet blanket made of some otherworldly silk-like material. The blanket was found on a deserted spaceship with no sign left of the original crew, which should have warned our hero away from the odd blanket but if it had there would be no story. Continue reading

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THE ARTIFICIAL MAN (1884): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

Artificial ManTHE ARTIFICIAL MAN: A SEMI-SCIENTIFIC STORY (1884) – Written by an unknown figure under the pseudonym Don Quichotte. 

This short story from the August 16th issue of The Argonaut is an early example of trans-humanism. The title figure, bearing a malformed head and short limbs, encounters the tale’s narrator. At first the artificial man seems to be very old but suprisingly, he claims to be just 18 years of age.

The artificial human says his scientist creator “grew” him in a bell jar and that he does not eat like normal people do. Instead, he was given a synthetic stomach into which nutrients are injected and his stomach contains gastric juices from a calf which enable him to digest the nutrients. Continue reading

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PULP HERO NORTHWEST SMITH – STORIES 1 AND 2

PZO8005-Cover.inddBalladeer’s Blog continues its examination of another neglected pulp hero – in this case Northwest Smith. Created by the female author C.L. Moore in the 1930s Northwest Smith was a ruthless outer-space smuggler and mercenary decades before Han Solo. With his Venusian partner Yarol at his side and armed with a trusty blaster Smith roamed the solar system in his deceptively fast spaceship The Maid. In the course of their criminal pursuits the two often found themselves in the role of reluctant heroes, sometimes with the fate of entire planets at stake. For more on Northwest Smith and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/ 

1. SHAMBLEAU (1933) – In this Northwest Smith debut story our anti-hero is lying low between smuggling capers in the Martian city of Lakkdarol. While passing time in the more dangerous quarters of the city Northwest gets the hots for a Martian woman of the Shambleau species and saves her from being killed by a pursuing mob of Martians, Earth colonists and expatriate swamp-men from Venus. Continue reading

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THE SPEEDY JOURNEY (1744) ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

The Air Ship departs the Earth as Fama and the Astral Body look on.

The Air Ship departs the Earth as Fama and the Astral Body look on.

THE SPEEDY JOURNEY (1744) by Eberhard Christian Kindermann. This work of proto-science fiction begins with the fictitious discovery of a moon orbiting the planet Mars over a century before Phobos and Deimos were observed in real life. From there it features a journey through space to reach this celestial body.  

The Speedy Journey represents an odd but entertaining fusion of scientific speculation and elements of Christian beliefs. Fama (“Fame”), an actual angel from Heaven heralds the discovery of the fictitious moon of Mars and even sings the public praises of the team of scientists who set out to explore the satellite. In the peculiar fictional world presented by Kindermann in this book the general public takes in stride these visitations from angels who serve as virtual P.R. flacks for men of science.   Continue reading

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