Tag Archives: Marvel Science Stories

Jack Vance and the Golden Girl

luruluStories from Marvel Science Stories May 1951

By far this issue’s most poignant story is “Golden Girl” by Jack Vance. At first only a select few 
are allowed to see the alien female, brought to a small, private hospital by Bill Baxter, the man who found her amid the wreckage of her ship. “. . . it was rumored that the golden woman was beautiful. Young and fantastically beautiful.”

Bill appoints himself her guardian, but of course with no official standing, those in authority are quick to dismiss him. Fortunately, Lurulu, the golden girl herself, prefers Bill’s company to the other strangers vying for her attention—so he stays. And for a time that’s enough, until the story reaches its fateful end.

Vance must have liked the name of his female lead, his final novel, in 2004, was titled Lurulu, a sequel to Ports of Call (1998).

Richard Matheson’s The Thing

RMCSfullStories from Marvel Science Stories May 1951

Richard Matheson builds anticipation and tension until “The Thing” is finally revealed in his story of the same name. Set in a future where food has been superseded by pills: “Isn’t it a brutal comment on the times that the simplest and most ordinary pleasures can assume such vast incredible proportions?”

Since “The Thing” is pretty much everything, I won’t spoil the fun here. The story was reprinted in Richard Matheson: Collected Stories, Volume 1 (Gauntlet Press 2003).

May 1951 was the first of three digest-size issues of this magazine, and the last with this exact title. With the August 1951 edition it became Marvel Science Fiction.

William Tenn and Hallock’s Madness

TennStories from Marvel Science Stories May 1951

The following passage from William Tenn’s “Hallock’s Madness” sparked my interest in his story right from the start:

“Wells W. Hallock in a straitjacket! Huge, fearless Hallock who had shot his way out of the under- ground temple in northern India where the original, primitive Thugee was practiced, who penetrated to the vampire cult of Lengluana and took flashbulb photographs!”

Hallock’s madness is all in his head, and unable to get out, his only course of action is to enlist Ransom Morrow to go in after him. Not a simple task from a straitjacket. But the man is persuasive and has forbidden fruit in his favor. The same sweet gift of the palm that started his troubles.

With imaginative characters, setting, and plot Tenn delivers a memorable story, told in beautiful prose, with his distinctive dry wit. The story was reprinted in Here Comes Civilization: The Complete SF of William Tenn, Volume 2 (NESFA Press 2001).

Mack Reynolds’ Second Advent

bestofmackreynoldsStories from Marvel Science Stories May 1951: “Second Advent” by Mack Reynolds

Reynolds mines the wary relationship between humans and robots on the planet Plemeth in this story. Some 300 years ago a rag tag band of humans settled there, only to be wiped
out by a virus. With the arrival of the elite crew of the battlecraft, Hiroshima, the new rulers plan
to expand their territory—with the unexpected support of the subservient robots who’ve waited 300 years to set the world right.

Mack Reynolds (1917–1983) was an oft used pseudonym of Dallas McCord Reynolds, son of Verne L. Reynolds, twice a presidential candidate of the American Socialist Labor Party. Mack’s science fiction stories lent themselves well to the underlying social themes he wanted to explore, of which “Second Advent” is a great example. The story was reprinted in the collection, The Best of Mack Reynolds (Pocket Books 1976).

Betsy Curtis’ The Ones

marvel_science_5_1951Stories from Marvel Science Stories May 1951: “The Ones” by Betsy Curtis

“The Ones” opens in the luxurious Venusberg Club where importer Ebon Macklure reveals his slavery sideline when he kidnaps Galactic Guardsman Arnaud Grath and the beautiful dancer, Aleesa, transporting them to the Ones of Crae for the handsome profit of five thousand units.

Forced into hard labor on the surface of the cruel planet, both captives soon find themselves brought before the Ones for their insolence. The terrible secret of the Ones belies the aliens’ true nature and Arnaud, with the help of another Guardsman, Marco Neery, strikes a bargain that saves the day for all concerned. “The Ones” provides an entertaining space adventure, most memorable for its supporting lead, Aleesa, who projects strength and courage as a defiant captive, in a welcome relief from the female stereotypes so typical of this era.