Lords of the Stratosphere (Review)

Lords of the Stratosphere (Review)

So it’s another shorty this week, a novella from the 30’s by Arthur J. Banks in the golden (and wildly off scientifically) age of Scifi. Game of Thrones takes up so much of my time.

But it’s not a bad little shorty, a tale of high (50,000 feet, which feels like we’re talking outer space in this age of Ford Trimotors) adventure. As usual, there are two toothy, swarthy, intellectual yet two-fisted heroes, these with the unlikely names of Lucian Jeter and Tema Eyer. And Tema and  Lucian (I kept thinking of that movie) are going to go for a high altitude record, only lose to a rival who was ready first. The other fellow accents, he’s overdue for weeks, and then his frozen-solid body parachutes down onto their very roof. A clear challenge from someone “up there”.

Yet weirder things are happening. Ships get picked up by rays and dropped. Cows get picked up and vanish. And in one of the most stunning images of terror from this era (which we often see as both censored and unimaginative), skyscrapers in New York begin to tear free of their foundations, lifting up into the sky, their terrified inhabitants who chose to leap to their deaths merely floating next to them, only to be dropped from 5000 feet to crash in ruins. The metropolis is being systematically destroyed, millions of deaths, and its up to our heroes to stop this.

Now, I’ll admit that I never like it when some evil scientist incorporates not one scientific breakthrough but four or five. I’m left thinking of this guy perfecting an evil device, then going into work the next day to embark on a totally different line of research. And it was laughable that the villain’s objectives were a single world government and the intermixing of races (things I’m fine with – well, granted that theirs was a stronger and less voluntary form than I would have liked). But our heroes go aloft at 150 mph, taking something like a day to climb to 55,000 feet, to win the day.

RULES FOR EVIL OVERLORDS (ADDENDUM): If I need to chain the heroes to my decking, I will make sure a painted circle denotes their limit of reach. And I will execute any key-bearing guards who step inside this radius.

Otherwise, a great load of fun, and free too, on Project Gutenberg HERE.