Thursday, February 26, 2015

Amazons vs the Scaly Ones

You would think that Mars--being the Planet of War--would be where you would most likely run into Amazon warriors. But according to novella "The Golden Amazons of Venus," by John Murray Reynolds, Venus is the place to find these rather dangerous ladies.

Published in the Winter 1939 issue of Planet Stories, "Golden Amazons" is a strong and entertaining Space Opera.

It opens with the launch of the Viking, a large space ship that will be attempting the second exhibition to Venus. Mars has been settling for decades, but the one previous attempt to explore Venus resulted in a missing space ship. The Viking is going to try again.

By the way, the crew includes a Scotsman named Angus McTavish. Such is my Star Trek conditioning that as soon as he was identified as a Scotsman, I knew he'd be the chief engineer. And by golly, he was.

Despite the presence of a Scottish engineer, trouble pops up even before the space ship gets to Venus. The captain, Gerry Norton, discovers someone is secretly using the ship's radio for unknown reasons. Gerry is knocked unconscious before he can catch this someone.

But there's little time to worry about that once they get to Venus, where Gerry quickly rescues a beautiful, golden-skinned woman from a trio of reptilian humanoids.  Still more proof that the universe is stuffed to overflowing with beautiful princesses. They are simply everywhere.

The situation is thus: There is a civilization that emigrated to Mars from Venus thousands of years ago. They've lost most of their science--they have a few big ray guns to defend their main city and some border outposts against the reptilians (called the Scaly Ones), but their ground troops use bows and swords.

Oh, and their babies are 90% female, so the military is entirely made up of women.

Shenanigans ensue--Gerry, Angus and Closana (the princess--who to be fair does kick butt quite effectively after her initial rescue) are betrayed and captured the the Scaly Ones, taken by submarine to the enemy's main city. The leader of the Scaly Ones tries to get Gerry to lure his ship there to be captured.

More shenanigans ensue. There are fights, escapes, contact with rebels among the green-skinned humans enslaved by the Scaly Ones, more escapes and a super-scientific civilization living in an invisible city. The story comes to a truly exciting climax when Gerry and most of his crew, separated from the Viking, help the Amazons fight a desperate but losing battle against hordes of Scaly Ones. Reynolds does a nice job of getting various plot points he has introduced to all pay off at the end.

This is a great story. John Murray Reynolds is probably best remembered for writing the Ki-Gor stories for the pulps (Ki-Gor being perhaps the best of the Tarzan knock-offs) under the name John Peter Drummond. But he wrote a number of excellent stories under his own name as well, "The Golden Amazons of Venus" is typical of these--imaginative, fast-moving, well-constructed, leaving you both satisfied to have read a good story and sad that in real-life there is no army of Amazon warriors battling reptile-men across the surface of Venus. Because, darn it, there should be!

You can read "The Golden Amazons of Venus" HERE.

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