Saturday, March 12, 2011

Martian SF story descriptions: "The Revolt of the Star Men" by Raymond Z. Gallun (1932)

Thanks to Google Books, I’ve been browsing Starclimber: The Literary Adventures and Autobiography of Raymond Z. Gallun (Wildside Press, 2007). Born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin in 1911, Gallun began writing during the pulp era of the late 1920's and soon established himself as one of the leading American science fiction authors of his time. Here's how Gallun described one of his early works, a novelette titled “The Revolt of the Star Men” (1932):

A number of my co-workers at the shoe factory had been sent to the sanatorium, too. Several didn't come back.

But, for the living, life doesn’t stop. With some of the money for “The Lunar Chrysalis,” I bought myself a new portable typewriter. So, without renting a machine, I could type up a long novelette that I had been working on through the summer—“The Revolt of the Starmen.”

I’d come quite a ways in learning how to handle mystery, fast-action suspense, and even characters. As for the scientific part, I took what I had used in “The Space Dwellers”—hardy, radioactively energized, outer space-compatible life, and added another parallel notion: if there could be fierce, quasi-humanoid warriors native to space itself, why couldn’t they also have natural, living mounts of the same unique metabolism as themselves to ride?...No, nothing like actual horses in form—but flattish radially-ridged disks of exotic, rubbery flesh, rather! And, from their ventral surfaces, why couldn’t they project propulsive energy, perhaps corpuscular? Thus, wouldn’t this allow them and their primitive riders to go charging off into whatever interplanetary or interstellar distance as nomads of the universe?...I had these starmen under the control of a slick humanoid at first—a Martian nobleman who plotted to use them to help him gain control of Mars and Earth….Till the starmen rebelled….

I was proud of that yarn. I sent it to [editor Hugo] Gernsback, and he accepted it promptly [and published it in the Winter 1932 issue of Wonder Stories Quarterly.] Payment would be due, as usual, on publication. Elated by my success, I hastened eagerly to write more for Gernsback.

[Starclimber, p. 44]

Raymond Z. Gallun (1911-1994) is also the author of Skyclimber (1981), a novel in which “a space settler is torn between loyalty to his Martian home and allegiance to Earth.”

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