Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Pulp Report: Giant Bees and a Robot Stalin

Amazing Stories, August 1952

In the waning days of the Pulp, it appears that publishers were moving towards an emphasis on pure ‘sci-fi’ rather than the sci-fi/fantasy/GGA genre that was in vogue a few years earlier. There seems to be a real maturation of pulps, as there seems to have been a movement away from sensationalism.

This cover really caught my eye – it’s wonderfully elegant and leaps off the page. I just love the design and the atmosphere established by the painter. The first story ‘The Return of Michael Flannigan’ involves a Cliff Steele-like protagonist who returns to Earth to only to find that it is on the brink of nuclear catastrophe. We’ve got some love, action, and even theology mixed into this one. It’s quite an engaging story, and the characters are strong - especially the Robot-Stalin who secretly took control of the Soviet Union after the death of the real Stalin. Can you beat that?

The next story, ‘Threat From Above’ is a definite step down – basically just an ‘Attack of the Giant Electric Bees’ story more suitable for one of DC’s comic book anthology titles list My Greatest Adventure. The third story ‘Black Angels Have No Wings’ features honeymooners threatened by bat-like humanoids living deep beneath the Earth’s surface. It bounces along at a nice clip and is good B-movie fun. The story features a gorgeous Virgil Finlay drawing. I wonder if he was still working for pulps at this time, or if it was a reprint.

1 comment:

Ray_Rivard said...

You can't go wrong with a Virgil Finlay cover. Gorgeous cover art. He was still doing art into the early fifties, but that's when the pulps started dying off and he moved into paperback cover art, mostly of the scifi variety. His stippling technique is amazing. Just for reference, he started submitting art to Farnsworth Wright, at Weird Tales, in 1935. He was only 21 at the time.