Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Claim-Jumpers of the Riphaean Mountains

"The Moon Mines."
By Eando Binder (Earl Binder, 1904-65, and Otto Binder, 1911-74).
First appearance: Wonder Stories, April 1933.
Short story (15 pages).
Online at SFFAudio HERE (PDF) and Comic Book Plus (HERE; set page selector to 60 and 87).
"On the moon's treacherous surface, the drama of greed, treachery and deception was played out . . . ."
Chapter titles: "Suspicions" — "Kranto" — "A Second Visit" — "The Snare" — "Trickery"

Three centuries from now, Richard Harrington works as an agent for the United Socialist Republic of Earth (U.S.R.), and his latest assignment puts him in a situation that, if worse comes to worst, could exacerbate tensions between the Ginzies (slang for Martians) and humanity enough to lead to war; his boss gives him his orders:
"Harrington you're going to the moon to investigate the death or disappearance of Harvey Wood, their [the U.S.R. Station No. 7's] best mineralogist . . . mind you, their best . . . and it may be possible that the Ginzies are mixed up in this."
When Harrington gets to the Moon, Station 7's overseer is willing to consider the missing mineralogist as already dead:
"The man died an unknown death out there in the vacuum. There's a dozen different hazards that make it a gamble to even walk around. About all you can do is go and look for the body yourself, instead of asking a lot of questions of me."
As for the short-tempered Martian mining overseer at nearby Kranto, he says he's never heard of the man:
"I have told you once, he did not come."
Somebody must be lying . . .
The Riphaean Mountains
Principal characters:
~ Richard Harrington:
   "There is hardly any doubt that if he had lived many centuries before, when there was no Bureau of Employment, he would have become a pirate; or, living in a later age, a gentleman outlaw."
~ Chief Wilson:
   "Tall and spare, he had the demeanor of a hawk. Beady, black eyes peered from a shrewd face. Quick in all his actions and words, he kept an alert mind on the responsible activity of his agents."
~ Overseer Soderstrom:
   "He was a large, jovial-faced man with a quiet voice. His almost obese body was clothed in a leathern outfit of fine quality and texture. His curly black hair fell over his forehead."
~ Sul Minto Pruma:
   ". . . was a typical north country Martian; eight feet tall, bony, spindle-legged, fur-faced. His deep set eyes stared out at the visitor with the usual Martian haughtiness. In a glance the earthman knew that he was of the lower class of that world of cold, austere people."

Typo: "the lie-detector weighs you words."

- "Eando Binder" was a corporate name ("E and O") used by brothers Earl and Otto Binder, and usually by each of them when they wrote solo; see FictionMags HERE for the "Eando" listing, HERE for Earl's list, and HERE for Otto's listing. "The Moon Mines" was evidently Binder's second published story.
- Wikipedia (HERE) and the SFE (HERE) have plenty of background information about Binder, and he/they also have some credits at the IMDb (HERE); the ISFDb has carefully researched bibliographical information HERE (Earl) and HERE (Otto).
- Eando Binder created Adam Link (see HERE), while Otto by himself is credited with formulating a lot of the material for the Superman series at DC Comics, including these characters: Beppo the Super Monkey, Bizarro, Brainiac, Krypto, Jimmy Olsen (as Elastic Lad), the Legion of Superheroes, Lucy Lane, Supergirl (HERE), and Titano.
- The story takes place largely in a lunar area known at the time as the Riphaean Mountains but which are now designated Montes Riphaeus; see Wikipedia HERE.

The bottom line: "I'm quite disappointed that I'm still the last man on the moon."
Eugene Cernan

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