Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Really, Really Old Time Capsule

Read/Watch 'em in Order #88

So far in our walk through the August 1939 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories, we've encountered one flawed story and one pretty good story. Now we come to "The Warning from the Past," which is a corker of a tale by Robert Moore Williams.

It seems that there was an advanced civilization on Earth that had its heydey while our ancesters were still eating gnats picked out of each other's chest hairs. But then extraterrestrial invaders arrived. The ancient civilization defeated them. In a snit over this, the invaders left behind germs that would survive into modern day as the common cold. But at the time, these germs were deadly enough to wipe out the ancients.

Fortunately for us, they left behind several time capsules that would activate and let us know where they were buried if the invaders' space ships were detected approaching Earth again. 15,000 years after the capsules were buried, this happens. Invaders from the stars apparently hold grudges a really long time.

The ancients left instructions for how to build heat rays and aerial torpedos that destroyed the invaders last time. But this time around, the invader ships are equipped with an inpenetrable force field. Soon, most of Europe and America is in flames.

It's up to an electronics expert who is almost crippled emotionally with grief, using the ham radio he built as a kid and the determination to go forward when he's dismissed as insane, to save the world.

"The Warning from the Past" is a fast-paced and effective science fiction story with a dollop of emotional punch added to it to give it real backbone. I've enjoyed Williams' stories before, though when I reviewed his Jongor of Lost Land stories a few years ago, I did find them flawed.  Here, he does exactly what he sets out to do--tells a tense and frightening alien invasion story with a unique backstory that all succeeds in highlighting one man's personal heroism.

You can read this issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories HERE.

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