Short Reviews – Red Witch of Mercury by Emmett McDowell

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Red Witch of Mercury by Emmett McDowell appeared in and was double-billed with Spider Men of Gharr as the featured story of the Summer 1945 issue of Planet Stories.

I’m no longer surprised by how good the average Planet Stories piece is.  Going by what some of fandom was saying in the subsequent issue’s Vizigraph, the Summer 1945 issue of Planet Stories was damning evidence of how far the publication has fallen.  If this is the bad, how great the golden age must have been!

Red Witch of Mercury is a story of intrigue, crime and corruption.  It’s a solid thriller, through and through.  Mercury may be on the brink or civil war. A handful of Earthnoid interests control over half of the resources on the small world, including the lucrative wine trade.  There is some resentment among the Mercurian populace, but the Earth government has just granted the Mercurian people a new degree of freedom and self-governance.  Though revolution could wreck the advancements the Mercurians have made towards independence, rumors are circulating that the Mercurian Patriot movement may still consider violent insurrection to drive the trusts off once and for all.  With the coming of the Festival of Rains, a celebration of the union of the rain god Nemi and his bride the soil which “would make a Roman Orgy look like a Sunday School picnic”, there’s fear that the streets could explode in riots at a moment’s notice.

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