Fall and Winter Review Round-Up

Been a long time since I shared a list of the stories I’ve been covering at Castalia House.


http://www.castaliahouse.com/46255-2/ (Queen of the Martian Catacombs, by Leigh Brackett)














Summer Review Round-up

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a round-up of my Castalia House Short Reviews.

One of the cool things is, since someone uploaded scans of a ton of Planet Stories back in December of last year, you can actually read a most, if not all, of the stories I’ve been talking about! Going forward, I’ve been including links to where you can read the stories within the articles themselves. Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about Queen of the Martian Catacombs.

14_1949_fall_planet_anderson.jpg.scaled1000raid on the termites














A Quick Short Review Round-up

Here’s a quick look a what I’ve been talking about over at Castalia House.  If you haven’t read these, check them out.  Or better yet, find these stories and read them yourself if you can!

Coming of the Gods by Chester Whitehorn – Martian vs Rat-men
Assault on a City by Jack Vance – A pulp dame saves herself from rapists.
Cosmic Yo-yo by Ross Rocklynne – Asteroid Haulers crash the competition and find true love
Mists of Mars by George A. Whittington – A Martian Princess’ revolution succeeds with the help of a space cop
The Spider Men of Gharr by Wilbur Scott Peacock – Cryofrozen action scientist awakes to find Earth conquered by evil aliens
Retro Fandom Friday – 1940s fans celebrate and complain about Sci-fi


Who was Albert de Pina?

My new year’s resolution is to answer that question by the end of 2016.  Over a couple of years in the mid-40s, de Pina wrote 8 stories for Planet, including two collaborations with the prolific Henry Hasse.  He would go on to do two more collaborations with Hasse in other magazines in the 50s before disappearing.  His last story for Planet, Moon of Danger, was one of the best in the issue.

Though de Pina was comparatively a flash-in-the-pan of the pulps, in the mid-40s, at least amongst Planet Stories’ readership, he must’ve been numbered among the greats.  In the Vizigraph, Planet Stories’ letters section, he’s frequently listed in the same breath as Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, Ross Rocklynne or Gardner F. Fox as an author that fandom is demanding more stories by.  A 14 year old Algis Budrys has a letter published in a 1945 issue saying “I want more De Pina”.  I hadn’t thought much of it at first; Moon of Danger was great, yeah, but having read three issues and in three issues seen fans clamoring for more de Pina, I’m starting to wonder, “Who was this lost great of science fiction?”

There’s very little information online about de Pina.  The only verifiable work by de Pina available on Amazon is a 2015 reprint that collects A Hyatt Verrill’s “Beyond the Green Prism” alongside “Alcatraz of the Starways” which was a collaboration with the much more well-known Hasse.  A biography of Christ, The Galilean, A Life of Jesus, is the main work attributed to someone named Albert de Pina; though the timeframe is correct (1945), I’ve yet to find anything that suggests that it was written by the pulp science fiction author.  Still, you never know!

So, my goals are threefold:

-Find out who the heck this Albert de Pina guy was.  Part of this will require me to hunt down the issues of Planet from 43-45 with his stories.

-Find out if there is an estate to get in touch with or if his works have fallen into the public domain.

-Find out if it would be feasible to put together an omnibus of de Pina’s works.

In other cool news, a fit of mania last night saw around 2000+ words done on Mage Lords of Ruach!  If I can keep it up, I may have it finished in time to include in issue 2 of Cirsova.

Supplement to Quick Musings on the Depiction of Women in Science Fiction

Planet Stories’ publisher, Fiction House, also put out a sister line of science fiction comics called Planet Comics.  A lot of these covers show the kind of women who filled the pages of sci-fi in the olden days better than I can do justice to in words.

Oh, hey, look who has their hand on the gun that's blowing up the solar lens focused on earth!

Oh, hey, look who has their hand on the gun that’s blowing up the solar lens focused on earth!’

That dude will get there eventually, but not before that lady has zapped the monster a few times.

That dude will get there eventually, but not before that lady has zapped the monster a few times.

I guess with no man around, she'll have to zap the 3 headed T-Rex herself!

I guess with no man around, she’ll have to zap the 3 headed T-Rex herself!




Women are crack shots with ray guns, too!

Women are crack shots with ray guns, too!

That is going to hurt...

That is going to hurt…

She looks more mad than afraid; Mars God of War is grimacing because he's about to get zapped.

She looks more mad than afraid; Mars God of War is grimacing because he’s about to get zapped.

ADDENDUM: John C. Wright beat me to this years ago.  Thanks for pointing this out, Scholar-at-Arms!

Feminine Names for Strong Women’s Novels

Short Reviews – The Sword of Johnny Damokles, Hugh Frazier Parker

The Sword of Johnny Damokles originally appeared in the March 1943 issue of Planet Stories.  The version reviewed was the reprint featured in the Fall 1953 issue of Tops in Science Fiction.

A tribe of evil Neptunian lizard men have stolen a copy of Mein Kampf and used it as a blue print to unite the other tribes of evil Neptunian lizard men to launch a war against Earth.  Only Ti, the brave spaceman, and Johnny Damokles, the charming Greek space cook, can stop them!

Seriously?  You need more than that?

Okay, I’ll talk about the two most interesting aspects of this story.  First of all, it’s worth noting that this piece was written mid-war; Greece had completely fallen to the Germans just two years earlier. Secondly, in the distance future portrayed in the story, out of all of the people in the human solar empire, only the Greeks managed to retain their unique cultural identity.

Of course, this means that Johnny Damokles comes off at first as a caricature of the fat clumsy Greek (“Why you a make the fun of the Greeks?  She are a great peoples!”), but he eventually wins over Ti by showing himself to be both brave and clever, willing to fight and brave death against tyranny to prove the worth of Greece’s greatest legacies of philosophy, freedom and individuality.

At least according to ISFDB, Hugh Frazier Parker never had any other stories published, which is a damn shame.