“Doc Savage, Man of Bronze:” The Origin of the Superhero Group

doc

Cover art for Doc Savage magazine

Doc Savage and his oddly assorted team might be considered the progenitors of today’s “Fantastic Four” and many other teams of superheroes — even Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos.” -Stan Lee, creator of Marvel Comics’ “Spider-Man” and “The X-Men”

There are probably two reasons to read pulp fiction that’s 70, 80, 90, and even 100 years old. The first is that you’re a true fan of the genre. The second is, if not for these ancient heroes, we wouldn’t have the modern ones that, at least up until recently, were box office blockbusters at the movies.

In the mid-1960s as I was about to enter Junior High, I didn’t realize these stories existed and more, I didn’t know that various publishers had finally convinced the owners of these older properties to allow them to appear as paperbacks. It was the perfect time for me. I was the age and sex of the target audience, and the average price for a paperback was around 40 to 60 cents a copy. Heck, back then, even a comic book cost 12 cents.

So Edgar Rice Burroughs’ entire Tarzan and John Carter of Mars book series abruptly appeared in mall bookstores all across the country. So did E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman and Skylark series along with what Robert E. Howard and every other author under the sun wrote about Conan the Barbarian.

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Review of The World of Science Fiction 1926-1976: A Personal Past and Uncertain Future

skylark

Image captured on Amazon

This my second and last review of the late Lester Del Rey’s 1980 book The World of Science Fiction, 1926-1976: The History of a Subculture. The first review was more political and cultural. This one is more personal.

First of all, the copy I currently possess is a first edition. Like I said, the first printing of this tome was in 1980, and according to the old fashioned stamps in this library book, it was first acquired by my local library system on January 24, 1980. It’s like holding a piece of history in my hands.

The first 22 chapters are interesting, but also made up of long lists of ancient science fiction stories, their authors, which magazines they appeared in, the editors, and occasionally what was going on in the world around them. A tad dull overall.

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Review of The World of Science Fiction 1926-1976: “But What Good Is It?”

Cover image of Lester Del Rey’s “The World of Science Fiction 1926-1976

Finally finished The World of Science Fiction 1926-1976 by Lester Del Rey and I must say it is both very informative, and for long stretches, pretty boring.

This is one of two (probably) reviews, and today’s write up is the most “controversial” of the two.

The book was published in 1980 so 40 years of science fiction have passed since Del Rey opined “But What Good Is It?” in the 34th chapter. To Del Rey, the purpose of science fiction was to entertain, but then he remarked on page 348:

What disturbs me more is the whole concept of purpose as applied to any literature. To the Marxists, intent upon subordinating everything to the good of the state, the arts must serve a direct purpose of life — usually propaganda, I’m afraid. But why people in this country accept such Marxist ideas is a puzzle.

Del Rey died on May 10, 1993, about 13 years after penning this tome, and I’m glad he didn’t see what’s happening to field of science fiction today.

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Conquistador

Ships on the Paraguay River at Asunción, Paraguay © Ilkov Filimonov/Dreamstime.com

Juan’s flight from his native Briviesca to Asunción in Paraguay was grueling, especially after two layovers. He was grateful to find a cab to take him the sixteen miles into the city.

“Senor wants to be taken to the river? No particular place?” What passed for Spanish in this country seemed almost barbaric to Juan.

“Yes, it doesn’t matter.”

The cab driver thought it odd that the Spaniard had no luggage, but Juan wasn’t planning a lengthy stay, or not one the cabbie would understand. As his mind and existence was cast backward, the cab, the buildings, the city itself became increasingly alien.

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The Beggarman Goes Hunting

Bass Reeves

Bass Reeves. (Credit: Public Domain)

Indian Territory – Oklahoma – 1880

The fact that he was a former slave was obvious because he was a black man of a certain age, but his clothes and his manner also marked him for a beggar and a thief on the run from the law, or at least that’s what it seemed.

Most folks thought they were safe from the law in Indian Territory. The region that would one day be known as Oklahoma was ruled by five tribes, the Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw, all forced from their ancestral homelands because of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The tribes governed through their own courts but only had authority over themselves. That meant anyone not of the tribes, from a scalawag to a murderer, could only be pursued by Federal officers and not local law enforcement once they crossed into Indian Territory.

The beggarman had walked twenty some miles that day and he had another ten to go. He ate some of the hardtack and jerky he carried in a ratty looking burlap sack while he watched the small fire burn in front of him. He’d brought a blanket to guard against the cold as he slept on the grasslands of the high plains, but that was all the belongings a man could see. None of that bothered him including being approached silently from behind.

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The Colonials

pictograph

© @any1mark66

“Wallace, I’ve seen your evidence and the supporting papers, but they don’t explain one critical piece of information.”

“Like if the Chinese had visited America frequently and in numbers from 1,300 BC until 500 AD, why didn’t they colonize, right Hendricks?”

This was a frequent argument between the British and Native American archeologists, however Hendricks had a point. Pictographic evidence of extended Chinese visits to North America included numerous artifacts in Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. So why did they stop?

“I’ve already introduced Dr. Christina Esquivel, Hendricks.”

“Charmed,” though the older man’s tone indicated he wasn’t. “What’s a geneticist have to do with archeology, Wallace?”

Christina looked forward to deflating this air bag. “I’ve just finished a five-year comparative genetic analysis between various Native American peoples and those from the Hubei, Hunan, and Yunnan regions of China. DNA markers are too similar to be the result of chance.

Meaning?” Hendricks’s voice was laced with anticipation and dread.

“Meaning,” Wallace continued, “that the Chinese did colonize America. Indigenous people like Christina and I are their descendants.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge of the Week of November 14, 2017. The idea is to use the image above to inspire writing a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

The pictograph reminded me of articles I’ve read suggesting that the Chinese rather than Columbus or any other European or people from across the Atlantic, “discovered” America, perhaps sometime between 1,300 BC and 1,421 AD depending on which source you consider. Granted the information is highly speculative, but it makes a good basis for a story. The suggestion that there could be a genetic similarity between the Chinese people and Native Americans was also briefly mentioned in my source. To read more, go to DailyMail.com.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Where Did Our Home Go?

factory

© J Hardy Carroll

How’d we get here? One minute we were fighting an Imp horde and the next we landed here. The demons were experimenting with a portal stone. That’s it.

We’re on Earth but it’s not home. I’ve gotten a day job so I can buy food. I push myself through the gap in the gates with the groceries.

Newspapers say the year’s 1988. Raul’s family died in a famine in the 11th century. Yana was abandoned during an earthquake the next century. Prisha’s family were killed in Calcutta’s 1737 cyclone.

I’ve got to get them back to the only home they’ve ever known…dragonworld.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields writing challenge. The idea is to use the image of the old warehouse above as the inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is exactly 100.

I don’t think I’ve done my concept justice. It’s part of a larger idea I’ve been toying with, one I briefly touched on a few days ago.

Imagine the abandoned and unwanted children of the world throughout history being whisked to a different place and time, one where they are taken care of by dragons. Then imagine in a war an accident sends them back to Earth, but way too far in the future. What would happen then?

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Turn and Face the Change

alternate universes

Two days before he took his first trip through the time gate, Major John Kelgarries had a hush-hush meeting at Operation Retrograde with Antoine R. Barnes, Head of the Temporal Mechanics division, the last word in temporal field operations and perhaps the one person in the operation who actually understood the Forerunner time map.

It was late. Just about everyone was asleep at the arctic base except those personnel on night duty. They were in a small conference room. Barnes had cut the surveillance feeds. This was strictly off the record.

“That’s the long and the short of it, Major. Assuming your mission to bring back the survivors is successful, I can only predict to a 48% accuracy how our history and our present will be changed.”

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Walkabout

great barrier reef

© Google 2012

Barega saw himself here in dreamtime. Merindah the Seer woman told him it was his time for the walkabout, his spiritual transition so that he could join the men of their people.

His journey would be long and take many days. Barega would be traveling alone for the first time in his fourteen years of life. His father taught him well the skills needed to succeed in his travels.

He found himself here near the great water, the one he had dreamed about. There were many living beings in their land that were revered, and Barega knew that beneath the great water, many more existed. However, he now realized what his experience in dreamtime meant. This mighty reef was alive, too. He walked across the rock and sand to touch its many bodies and souls.

Today he was a man and men must protect the spirits of all life

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google street view image above as a prompt to craft a bit of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, the Pegman takes us to The Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

I learned a lot about the Reef (actually it’s made up of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching over 2,300 km or 1,400 miles long) at Wikipedia and Adventure Mumma.

Wikipedia says that: “according to a study published in October 2012 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985.” This coral bleaching is attributed to human use impact such as fishing and tourism as well as runoff and climate change.

The good news is that the reef has died off many times before, usually during each ice age, and then recovered, but the original environmental conditions have to be restored.

I also learned that about 12,000 years ago, a person could walk from the land directly out to the reef. Since I’ve recently been interested in writing time travel stories about going back to that period in history, my “Walkabout” tale simply fell into place.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

The Long Memory

piazza navona

© Sally-Ann Hodgekiss

“This is the man I saw when I was in Piazza Navona, Officer. The one who vandalized the Fontana del Moro.”

“Thank you, Mr. Russo. We have your statement and the court will contact you about his trial.”

Giovanni Russo left the police station and two police officers escorted the vandal to an interrogation room.

“Sir, you have no identification. Who are you? Why did you decapitate the figures on the Fontana with a rock?”

“Stop questioning him, Romano. He should have a lawyer.”

“He isn’t asking for one, is he, Bianchi?”

Both officers looked at the mysterious man. They’d never understand the thoughts transpiring behind those ancient, haunted eyes.

Piazza Navona had been built on the site of the 1st century Stadium of Domitian where the Romans went to watch the games. That was where he’d died for the first time. Since then, an endless stream of reincarnations brought the horror back with each lifetime. Now in 2011, his current incarnation was quite insane.

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – May 14th 2017 writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 164.

On September 3, 2011, the Fontana del Moro was really damaged by a vandal, though he was photographed by security cameras rather than seen by a live witness.

Also, the Piazza Navona really was built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian. I used these two bits of history to craft my wee tale this morning.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.