Saturday, June 27, 2020

"I'm Going To Blow a Hole Through Your Back Some Night"

"Destination—Death."
By Wilbur S. Peacock (1911/15-1979).
First appearance: Planet Stories, Winter 1943.
Short story (11 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).
(Parental note: Mild profanity.)

     "One man had to die on Uranus' frozen crust, so that the other 
might live . . ."

The perfect place for murder: millions of miles from the heavily traveled space lanes. The perfect plan: murdering your partner, claiming it was an accident, and cashing in on a fortune in kronalium. The only problem: the unforseen; the unanticipated elements that, 
in this instance, leave "plans in an awful mocking silence" . . .

Major characters:
~ Tom Headley:
  ". . . worked with the quiet sureness of a man whose life had been self-sufficient."
~ Bart Caxton:
  ". . . worked with the grim doggedness of a man who knows that his life hinges 
upon his speed in working."

Typo: "three graves" [probably gravs was meant].

Resources:
- While the planet Uranus hasn't been showcased in SFF as often as Venus, Mars, and so forth, it has appeared surprisingly often; see Wikipedia (HERE) for scientific fact about Uranus and (HERE) for science fiction about same. Does it rain diamonds on Uranus? 
See Wikipedia (HERE) for that speculation.
- The FictionMags thumbnail about Wilbur Scott Peacock: "Editor, writer of short stories and television scripts. Born in Kansas; died in Los Angeles, California." Peacock cruised through the usual pulp venues, ambidextrously producing Westerns, crime fiction, and SFF with equal ease. Also see the ISFDb (HERE) and the IMDb (HERE).
- Another pulpy Planet Stories concoction by Peacock is "Spider Men of Gharr," online at Comic Book Plus (HERE; select page 56 from the dropdown menu).
- Several Hollywood films with somewhat similar situational and character set-ups but entirely different settings and resolutions are discussed (SPOILERS: HERE, HERE, and HERE).
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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

"This Was Never a Case for Me"

"The House by the Ferris."
By Edward D. Hoch (1930-2008).
First appearance: The Saint Magazine, May 1966.
Reprinted in The Saint Magazine (U.K.), June 1966.
Collected in Leopold's Way (1985).
Short story (12 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).
     "She lives in an old house by the ferris wheel."

Just how credible is a witch's curse? A skeptical Captain Leopold intends to find out . . .

Principal characters:
~ Mrs. Held, the victim's wife:
  ". . . a tearful blonde in her early thirties worth a second look but not a third one."
~ Otto Held, the vic:
  ". . . was killed by that damned witch! They'll all be dead before she's through!"
~ Stella Gaze, the witch:
  "She put a curse on them—all four of them. She said they'd die by earth, air, fire and water."
~ Felix O'Brian, one of Otto Held's business partners:
  "You're here about this witch? And her threats?"
~ Walter Smith, also a business partner:
  "I have reason to believe he was murdered, and I'm requesting a police investi-gation."
~ George Quenton, another business partner:
  "What are you going to do, Captain? Wait until that woman kills Walter and me too?"
~ Sergeant Fletcher:
  ". . . and then the flimsy roof started to give, and he never had a chance."
~ Captain Leopold:
  "Until that moment, Leopold couldn't have put it into words. It was more of a feeling than anything else. He was almost surprised when he heard his voice say, 'Because it rained yesterday'."

Resources:
- "How long ago was this curse put on them?": Many people still believe they work. "A curse (also called an imprecation, malediction, execration, malison, anathema, or commin-
ation) is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to one or more persons, a place, or an object. In particular, 'curse' may refer to such a wish or pronouncement made effective by a supernatural or spiritual power, such as a god or gods, a spirit, or a natural force, or else as a kind of spell by magic or witchcraft; in the latter sense, a curse can also be called a hex or a jinx. In many belief systems, the curse itself (or accompanying ritual) is considered to have some causative force in the result. To reverse or eliminate a curse is sometimes called 'removal' or 'breaking,' as the spell has to be dispelled, and is often requiring elaborate rituals or prayers." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "The ferris wheel, as tall as a five-story building": A relatively recent invention. "The original Ferris Wheel was designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. as a landmark for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  
The generic term Ferris wheel, now used in American English for all such struc-
tures, has become the most common type of amusement ride at state fairs in the United States." (Wikipedia HERE).
- "Labor Day": The action in our story revolves around that particular holiday. (Wikipedia HERE).
- Michael Grost has an entire page devoted to Ed Hoch (HERE), part of which deals with our main character, Captain Leopold (HERE), featured in nearly 100 of his stories: "Hoch's most prolific series deals with Captain Leopold, a policeman in a city that rather resembles Hoch's native Rochester, New York. However, the Leopold stories do not contain the sort of 'local color describing a real city' that is often found in the police procedurals of other writers. Hoch tends to reserve such looks at real life locales for his other series, such as the Rand and Gypsy stories."
- If you're at all familiar with Edward Dentinger Hoch, then you already know about how he was one of the few crime fiction writers who could make a good living off the short story form, still an all but unparalleled achievement. Our latest meeting with Ed Hoch (FictionMags) featured one of his Simon Ark tales, "The Case of the Naked Niece" (HERE).
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Sunday, June 21, 2020

"We Are Going Up the Ladder"

THERE WAS A TIME when America's federal police force, the F.B.I., enjoyed enormous popularity with the public through often highly fictionalized movies and magazines 
devoted to them, a prime example of which is . . .

"Jail-Bait."
By Robert R. Mill (1895-1942).
Illustrations by Austin Briggs (1908-73).
First appearance: Blue Book, September 1939.
Short story (11 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).
(Note: Two lines transposed on page 78.)
     "I tell the world what a swell bunch they are to work for, and they tell the world how they hate to lose me. We both are liars . . ."

When civic lawlessness flares up and law enforcement can't do their job because their corrupt bosses won't let them, where do they go for help?

Principal characters:
~ Police Commissioner Golted of Bender City:
  ". . . honest at heart, courageous, rough and ready, but a firm believer in the magic of the nightstick, rather than the miracles of science."
~ Special Agent James "Duke" Ashby, F.B.I.:
  ". . . an exponent of the new school: A trained hunter of men, taught to make use of every aid science could extend . . ."
~ Big Steve Howak:
  ". . . runs this city."
~ Chief Inspector Martin Probar:
  ". . . gave an impression of capability and integrity, until the inspection was centered upon his shifty eyes, which were perhaps his outstanding feature."
~ Carl Sherman, head of the F.B.I. crime lab:
  ". . . peered through the glass. 'Plain as an electric sign,' was his verdict."
~ Vi:
  "Do I look like a truck?"
~ Bug-eye Sondus:
  ". . . is the weak sister of the trio . . ."
~ Sock Dracon:
  "What is the rap?"
~ District Attorney Samuel Leden:
  "Keep sitting on your brains, and let me do the thinking."
~ plus Special Agents Block, Holmes, Thomas, and Agent-in-Charge Edwards.
Resources:
- "the policy racket": There are all kinds of illegal rackets; see Wikipedia (HERE) for a list and follow the links therefrom.
- "during Prohibition": Well-intentioned but a very bad idea; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "our ballistics department": Bullets can't tell lies, but people can; see Wikipedia (HERE).
- "too hot in Atlanta, too dry in Leavenworth, and too damp in Alcatraz": A short list of well-known federal prisons of the day, the last the "star" of quite a few Hollywood movies and 
TV shows; see Wikipedia (HERE), (HERE), and (HERE and HERE).
- "the hot-squat": "(US, slang) The electric chair": Your Dictionary (HERE).
- "the Director": At the time it was J. Edgar Hoover, who served as the sixth Director of the F.B.I. for almost half a century: "On October 15, 1976, in reaction to the extraordinary 48-year term of J. Edgar Hoover, Congress passed Public Law 94-503, limiting the FBI Director to a single term of no longer than 10 years." See FBI.gov (HERE).
- If you've been following this weblog, then you've already met with Robert R. Mill, primarily through his "Tiny" David stories, the latest of which we featured (HERE).
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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

"Something Shrewd Was Called For"

"Grifters' Asteroid."
By H. L. Gold (1914-96).
Illustration by [Robert Bartow] Lubbers (1922-2017; HERE).
First appearance: Planet Stories, May 1943.
Reprints page (HERE).
Short story (16 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).

     "There are omnious pleajes of moby-hailegs in sonmirand which, howgraismon, are notch to be donfured miss ellasellabell in either or 
both hagasanipaj, by all means. This does not refly, on the brother 
man, nat or mizzafil saces are denuded by this ossifaligo...."


How do you con a conman? Let me count the ways . . .

Main characters:
~ Joe Mallon:
  "The only thing that needs purifying around here is that blasted mayor's conscience."
~ Harvey Ellsworth:
  "Joseph, the good-natured artist in me has become a hard and merciless avenger. I shall not rest until we have had the best of this colonial con-man!"
~ Angus Johnson:
  "The saloon man removed his dirty apron and came around the bar. 'If that's an apology, 
I accept it. Now the mayor'll discuss filling your tanks. That's me. I'm also justice of the peace, official recorder, fire chief....'

  "'And chief of police, no doubt,' said Harvey jocosely.
  "'Nope. That's my son, Jed'."
~ Jed Johnson:
  "Johnson's eight-foot son, topped by a massive roof of sun-bleached hair and held up by a foundation that seemed immovable, had obviously been born and raised in low gravity. For any decent-sized world would have kept him down near the general dimensions of a man. 
He held out an acre of palm."
~ Genius:
  "With four hands, Genius played deftly upon a pair of mellow Venusian viotars, using his other two hands for waiting on the table."

Comment: Snake oil salesmen used to be a dime a dozen; now government officials have largely supplanted them.

Resources:
- Planetoid 42 would qualify as a minor planet today; see Wikipedia HERE.
Even Edgar Wallace got in on the planetoid craze.
- Also see Wikipedia (HERE) for background on Horace Leonard Gold; as an editor, Gold's greatest creation involved other authors: "In 1950 he started Galaxy Science Fiction, which from the outset he made one of the leading sf magazines, and for the editing of which he remains best known—indeed, notorious. Afflicted with acute agoraphobia as a result of his wartime experiences, Gold worked from his apartment, doing much of his work by telephone. The emphasis of Galaxy reflected his interests in Psychology and Sociology, as well as Humour . . ." (The SFE HERE). For a bibliography, see the ISFDb (HERE).
- Being a true pulpster, Gold wrote in several genres, not just science fiction; he placed seven stories featuring his series character Gilroy in both SFF and crime zines (FictionMags data HERE). (Note: na = novella; nv = novelette; and ss = short story):
  (1) "A Matter of Form" (na), Astounding, December 1938 (online HERE)
  (2) "Problem in Murder" (nv), Astounding, March 1939 (online HERE)
  (3) "Perfect Murder" (ss), Thrilling Wonder Stories, March 1940 (online HERE)
  (4) "I Know Suicide" (ss), Shadow Mystery, June/July 1947
  (5) "Love Ethereal" (ss), Suspense Magazine, Fall 1951 (a.k.a. "Love in the Dark")
  (online HERE)
  (6) "The Old Die Rich" (na), Galaxy Science Fiction, March 1953 (online HERE)
  (7) "At the Post" (nv), Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1953 (online HERE).
All of these were collected in Perfect Murders (2002; see ISFDb HERE and Amazon.com HERE).
- One of Gold's SFF stories passed through EQ's editorial hands: "The Deadly Man," Fantastic, Summer 1952 (as "And Three to Get Ready...") in Ellery Queen’s 
Mystery Magazine, August 1972.
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Friday, June 12, 2020

"Sometimes There Is a Deadly Sincerity in Jest"

HERE WE HAVE a couple of seemingly unrelated short short short stories, one from an American forties pulp and another from a pulpier British pulp from the fifties; what they have in common isn't their pulpiness so much, however, but that venerable crime fiction trope, the perfect murder:

"Two-in-One Murder."
By Edward J. Donovan (?-?).
First appearance: Detective Tales, January 1941.
Short short short story (2 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).
     "He himself was thinking how easy it would be to put cyanide in one of the capsules."

A bitter pill, indeed . . .

Character list:
~ Frank Luster:
  ". . . managed to conceal his feelings better than his cousin . . ."
~ Harry Smokely:
  ". . . alone would know how the murder had been accomplished."
~ Mike Ahearn:
  ". . . grimaced in disgust as he picked up the phone."

Resource:
- Information about Edward J. Donovan is practically nonexistent; what we do know can be found at FictionMags (HERE).
~ ~ ~
"The Mystery of the Tuesday Man."
Author unknown.
First appearance: Radio Fun, October 19, 1957.
Short short short story (2 pages).
Online at Comic Book Plus (HERE; select page 15 from the dropdown menu).
     ". . . they saw they had a murder case on their hands . . ."

While it involves chocolate cakes and scones, there's nothing sweet about this crime . . .

Characters:
~ Arthur Harold Starcroft:
  ". . . seems to have been a neat and methodical man."
~ Mrs. Starcroft:
  "It must have been robbery. No one would have killed Arthur for anything else, because everyone liked him."
~ Inspector Stanley:
  "There's one very significant thing. That Lancaster Avenue—it's very badly lit."
~ Detective-sergeant Horace Bloom:
  "Do you think that change in time had anything to do with the murder, sir?"
~ Superintendent Elton:
  ". . . it is true that his wrist-watch, which was badly damaged, with the glass broken, 
had stopped at ten minutes to nine."
~ Mrs. Browning:
  "I saw his van next door yesterday evening."
~ Mr. Browning:
  ". . . wait a minute, though. He didn't call on Monday."
~ Mr. Walshe:
  ". . . that big bank payroll robbery last week was at Linchborough, and that's only six 
miles from here."

Resources:
- Inspector Stanley was a sort of Sexton Blake knockoff who enjoyed a long career in the British Radio Fun weekly comic, which ran from October 15, 1938 to February 18, 1961. 
Here are the Inspector Stanley adventures that we can find on Comic Book Plus:
  (1) December 7, 1941 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (2) September 24, 1949 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (3) October 29, 1949 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (4) June 12, 1950 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (5) December 2, 1950 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (6) December 9, 1950 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (7) December 16, 1950 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (8) December 30, 1950 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (9) January 13, 1951 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (10) January 13, 1951 (second copy of number 9)
  (11) January 20, 1951 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (12) October 13, 1951 (HERE; pages 14-15)
  (13) February 2, 1952 (HERE; pages 14-15; text faded)
  (14) August 9, 1952 (HERE; pages 14-15; text faded)
  (15) February 5, 1955 (HERE; pages 12-13)
  (16) June 8, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (17) July 6, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (18) July 13, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (19) July 20, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (20) July 27, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (21) August 3, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (22) August 10, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (23) August 17, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (24) August 24, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (25) August 31, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (26) September 7, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (27) September 14, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (28) September 21, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (29) September 28, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (30) October 5, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (31) October 12, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16; text smudged on 16)
  (32) October 19, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16) (see above)
  (33) October 26, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (34) November 30, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16)
  (35) December 28, 1957 (HERE; pages 15-16).
The Inspector also appeared in some of the Radio Fun annuals:
  (36) 1948 Annual (HERE; pages 35-40, 118-122, and 154)
  (37) 1951 Annual (HERE; pages 41-45).
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Wednesday, June 10, 2020

"It Picked Up the Crowbar and Stepped Towards Me"

"Murder at the Tesseract House."
By S. R. Algernon (Sean Green).
Illustration by Jacey.
First appearance: Nature/Futures, 20 May 2020.
Short short short story (2 pages).
Online at Nature.com (HERE; PDF).

     "Too many clients had lost themselves in visions of the past."

The past. The dead past, they say. Just how dead is it, really?

Resource:
- We've already featured Algernon/Green's SFF (HERE).

Saturday, June 6, 2020

"I Still Believe It Was Murder"

IN TODAY'S STORY, our sleuth makes unusual use of a soap eraser and a loquacious "air raid warden" to set a trap for . . .

"The Meticulous Murderer."
By Mel Watt (?-?).
First appearance: Detective Tales, June 1943.
Novelette (16 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).
     "He took enough to sleep from now on."

 Chapter One: "When he rose, he stood gazing at the body for a full minute, as if seeing a picture. A picture he didn't like."
 Chapter Two: "Meticulous Murder"
 Chapter Three: "Man-Trap"
 Chapter Four: "Diller-Killer"

A good synonym for "meticulous" is "fastidious" ("being very concerned about matters of cleanliness"), which fits our murderer to perfection . . .

Main characters:
~ Marian Innes:
  ". . . was standing by a desk, her body as stiff as a statue, her hands clenched by her 
sides, her eyes fixed and staring, but every muscle in her deadwhite face quivering uncontrollably."
~ Jim Innes:
  "Seated in the chair before the desk was her husband. The upper part of him was 
lying on the desktop, his arms stretched ahead."
~ Sergeant Mulcahy:
  "His face was the map of Ireland, but behind it was a hard-working, shrewd brain."
~ The M. E.:
  "He's a suicide, isn't he?"
~ George Stanton:
  "There's twenty-five thousand dollars in negotiable stocks missing and unaccounted 
for."
~ Larry Rhodes:
  "Nobody ever lets me in on anything."
~ Eileen Hollis:
  "He was often nervous and depressed."
~ Klingelhuts:
  "You vant to rent apartment?"
~ Professor Jonathan Tack, instructor in abnormal psychology in the Crime Lab at 
Central University:
  "He's frightened to death of guns. He would probably faint at the sight of blood. 
He doesn't mind murdering, but he has to do it without bloodshed. Abnormal psy-
chological quirk in the gentleman."

Resources:
- "It's the air raid warden": During World War Two wardens, all volunteers, were ubiquitous, but even they weren't able to stop The Lookout Air Raids: "the second time the continental United States was attacked by enemy aircraft during World War II"; see Wikipedia (HERE) for this little-known event.
- "I'll bet you my set of tires": To readers of the time a meaningful reference to wartime rationing, since all the rubber was going to the war effort. "During World War II, ration-
ing was a large part of life on the United States Home Front. Tires were the first items 
to be rationed." (Sara Sundin HERE).
- Mel Watt's detective fiction writing career spanned twenty years (FictionMags HERE); his only series character was limited to two appearances:
   Prof. “Mephisto” Jonathan Tack:
   (1) "The Meticulous Murderer," Detective Tales, June 1943 (above)
   (2) "Home Sweet Homicide," Detective Tales, September 1943.
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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

"You Are the Plant"

"Stellar Showboat."
By Malcolm Jameson (1891-1945).
Illustration by [A.] Leydenfrost (1888-1961; HERE).
First appearance: Planet Stories, Fall 1942.
Short story (20 pages).
Online at Project Gutenberg (HERE).

     "A drama more fantastic than any the stage had ever produced 
was being plotted behind the curtains of the Showboat of Space. 
And between its presentation and inter-world disaster, waiting for 
his cue, stood only the lone figure of Investigator Neville."

There's a white collar crime wave sweeping through the outer Solar System; it's up to an undercover cop equipped with some fancy technology to put an end to what he calls "the Callisto-Trojan extortion racket"—provided he puts in enough rehearsal time . . .

Principal characters:
~ Colonel Frawley, Chief Inspector of the A.C. division of the I.P.:
  "'You say that there has been a growing wave of blackmail and extortion all over the System, coupled with a dozen or so instances of well-to-do, respectable persons disappearing without a trace. And you say that that has been going on for a couple of years and several hundred of our crack operatives have been working on it, directed by the best brains of the force, and yet haven't got anywhere. And that up to now there have been no such cases develop in the asteroids. Well, what do you want me for? What's the emergency?' The colonel laughed and dropped the ash from his cigar . . ."
~ Special Investigator Billy Neville:
  ". . . grimaced. He was not fond of plainclothes work."
~ Hallam:
  ". . . seems unhappy. He made two calls on a high officer of the Radiation Corporation and after the second one he came very angry and ruffled looking."
~ Milo Lunko:
  "He was so clever, in fact, that we were never able to make an arrest stick, let alone bring him to trial. That accounts for the absence of his picture from the gallery. He was also clever enough to fake his own death. The evidence we have as to that was so convincing we closed the file on him."
~ Simeon Carstairs:
  ". . . was of fair height, stockily built, and had remarkably frank and friendly eyes for a self-made man of the asteroids. Not that there was not a certain hardness about him and a considerable degree of shrewdness, but he lacked the cynical cunning so often displayed 
by the pioneers of the outer system. Neville noted other details as well—the beginning of 
a set of triple chins, a little brown mole with three hairs on it alongside his nose, and the 
way a stray lock of hair kept falling over his left eye."
~ Mariquita Carstairs:
  "Her Spanish blood heritage was evident in her warm dark eyes and proud carriage. 
Equally evident, were the lines of past suffering in her face. It did not take a detective 
to see that here was a pair who had at last found mutual consolation."
~ The captain of the Fanfare:
  "But my dear sir, as much as I would like to cooperate, I cannot do that."
~ The steward of the Fanfare:
  ". . . lapsed into complete speechlessness."
~ Colonel-General O'Hara, Head of the Bureau of Identification:
  ". . . was a gnome, scarcely five feet tall, with bulging eyes and wild hair that stood 
helter-skelter above his wrinkled face. He was staring at his desk blotter with a 
venomous expression, and his lower lip hung out a full half-inch."
~ The showboat:
  "I forget that your work has been mostly on the heavy planets where they have plenty of good playhouses in the cities. Out here [the asteroid belt] among these little rocks the diversions are brought around periodically and peddled for the night. The showboat, my 
boy, is a floating theater—a space ship with a stage and an auditorium in it, a troupe of 
good actors and a cracking fine chorus. This one has been making the rounds quite a 
while, though it never stopped here before until last year. They say the show this year 
is even better. It is the 'Lunar Follies of 2326,' featuring a chorus of two hundred androids 
and with Lilly Fitzpatrick and Lionel Dustan in the lead. Tonight, for a change, you can 
relax and enjoy yourself."

"Greatest Show of the Void—Come One, Come All—Your Money Back if Not Absolutely Satisfied"

Typo: "the smaller doomed [domed] settlements".

Resources:
Let's admit it: Space probes have rendered the pulpsters' imaginations obsolete—but their productions are still a lot of fun.
- "little Pallas, capital of the Asteroid Confederation": "Pallas (minor-planet designation: 2 Pallas) is the second asteroid to have been discovered, after 1 Ceres. It is one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System, and is a likely remnant protoplanet. With an estimated 7% of the mass of the asteroid belt, it is the third-most-massive (and third-largest) asteroid, being three quarters the mass of 4 Vesta and one quarter the mass of Ceres. It is about 510 kilometers (320 mi) in diameter, slightly smaller than Vesta." (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- "on Io and Callisto": Moons of Jupiter; since 1979 Io, in particular, has proven to be a disappointment to most SFF writers. "With over 400 active volcanoes, Io is the most geo-logically active object in the Solar System . . ."; regardless, it did star in a major Holly-
wood movie (Wikipedia HERE, HERE, and HERE). "Despite its size and early discovery, 
[Callisto] has not been featured in fiction as much as the other Galilean satellites." 
(Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- "soured Ganymede and Europa": "Ganymede's size made it a popular location for early science fiction authors looking for locations beyond Mars that might be inhabitable by humans. In reality, Ganymede is a cold, icy, cratered world with a vanishingly thin atmo-
sphere." (Wikipedia HERE and HERE). "Europa is the smallest of the four Galilean sat-
ellites and the second closest to Jupiter. It is theorized to have an ocean of liquid water underneath its icy surface; the thickness of the ice is much debated. The probable 
presence of the water ocean has made it a favored location for modern fictional specu-
lation about extraterrestrial life in the Solar System." (Wikipedia HERE, HERE, and SPOILERS: HERE).
- "Vesta and Juno industries": Isaac Asimov's first story featured Vesta. (Wikipedia HERE 
and HERE). "Juno is one of the larger asteroids, perhaps tenth by size and containing approximately 1% the mass of the entire asteroid belt." (Wikipedia HERE and HERE).
- Twenty-four years later, an early Star Trek episode also featured a group of space-traveling performers (SPOILERS: IMDb HERE; SPOILERS: Wikipedia HERE; and SPOILERS: Memory Alpha HERE).
- "from Venus, where the air was over-moist, heavy and oppressive from its stagnation, to windy, blustery Mars, and then here, where there was no air at all." He got the last two right. "Venus is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth's 'sister planet' because of their similar size, mass, proximity to the Sun, and bulk composition. It is radically different from Earth in other respects. It has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% carbon dioxide. The atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface is 92 times that of Earth, or roughly the pressure found 900 m (3,000 ft) underwater on Earth. Venus is by far the hottest planet in the Solar System, with a mean surface temperature of 735 K (462 °C; 863 °F), even though Mercury is closer to the Sun. Venus is shrouded by an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light. It may have had water oceans in the past, but these would have vaporized as the temperature rose due to a runaway greenhouse effect. The water has probably photodissociated, and the free hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by the solar wind because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field. Venus's surface is a dry desertscape interspersed with slab-like rocks and is periodically resurfaced by volcanism." (Wikipedia HERE). As for Mars's atmosphere: "Dust devils and dust storms are prevalent on Mars, which are sometimes observable by telescopes from Earth. Planet-encircling dust storms (global dust storms) occur on average every 5.5 earth years on Mars and can threaten the operation of Mars rovers." (Wikipedia HERE).
- Malcolm Routh Jameson's promising career was cut short by cancer; see Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE). His story "Blind Alley" (1943) was adapted as a Twilight Zone episode in 1963: (IMDb HERE) and (SPOILERS: Wikipedia HERE).
- By now we're quite familiar with Jameson's work: "Prospectors of Space" (HERE) and "Murder in the Time World" (HERE).
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