Wednesday, March 16, 2011
1930’s short story: "The Foreign Legion of Mars" by Frederic Arnold Kummer Jr.
Thanks to Doc Mars of the amazing French-language website Mars & la Science Fiction, you can download and read “The Foreign Legion of Mars” (pdf), a short story penned by American pulp sci-fi writer Frederic Arnold Kummer Jr. and illustrated by Polish American artist Julian S. Krupa, as it was originally published in the May 1939 issue of Amazing Stories magazine. Set on a frontier Mars, the storyline revolves around hard-bitten legionnaires, a mercenary Earthman, and a fervent missionary that seem to have the upper hand over the “bulge-eyed, web-fingered desert aboriginals.” Here are the opening lines:
My post was a place called Jerala. Smack in the middle of the Red Desert, twice as hot as hell and three times as dry. One scummy well, five forlorn-looking holu trees, and a dirty rabbit warren of a native village, all filth and fleas. In front of the village and strung out along the edge of the space-port were our barracks, the radio shack, and Blackie Slane’s ramshackle trading post. And that damned desert, flat as a table, as far as the eye could see. Oh, it was a lovely spot! ...
Surprisingly, the “Meet the Author” column in the May 1939 issue of Amazing Stories reveals few biographical details about the young Frederic Arnold Kummer Jr. (1913-1990), noting that he was residing in Baltimore at the time of publication.
Merci beaucoup, Doc Mars!