Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Sargosso of Space

I've written before about my admiration of pulp and comic book writer Edmond Hamilton. Recently, I ran across a short story he published in Astounding Stories magazine in 1931 that emphasizes just how cool and imaginative Hamilton was.

Due to a fuel leak, a space ship ends up floating helpless near the outer edge of our solar system. They soon drift to a point in space where all the gravitational forces of the sun and the planets are perfectly balanced. Hundreds of other wrecked ships are there as well.

The crew begins to search other wrecks, hoping to salvage some fuel. They run into survivors from another ship who claim to want to help, but actually have a violent agenda of their own. A flurry of captures, escapes and hand-to-hand space combat follows.

The whole thing is more fun than a barrel of space monkeys from beginning to end. The idea of a graveyard of space ships is inherently cool and generates some great mental images. The plot moves along rapidly but logically, generating both tension and excitement. The characterizations are pretty basic, but we like the heroes and loath the villains, which is all we really need out of a short, fast-moving pulp adventure.

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I wish there were more writers like Hamilton around today--guys who could produce intelligent plot-driven stories that have a consistent internal logic. These stories entertain us as well as stimulate our imaginations. That is always a good thing.


"The Sargosso of Space" is, by the way, avaialable to read or download for free from this site.

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