Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I recently received a comment on my blog by Jean Michel, a writer and artist who has been a Doc Savage fan for many years. He has some of his graphics art-work on display on the "Clash City Design" blogspot.
Jean informed me that he was writing his own Doc Savage pastiche on a blogspot entitled Doc Savage & His Furious Five in The Sinister Plot of Helmut Faust. He asked that I read it and comment on it.
It can be viewed here:
What Jean has done is very interesting. He has re-imagined the characters and created an alternative "Doc Savage" storyline in which familiar names and characters are portrayed in an unfamiliar way. Doc Savage purists may balk at the boldness of his reshaping of the character Lester Dent created, but I have always enjoyed the occasional "Imaginary" or "What if?" stories that were seen on occasion in 1960s comics but have become a mainstay in the comic book world since Alan Moore wrote his ground-breaking "Watchmen" in the 1980s.
Jean is a good writer and he keeps the story moving as he introduces new elements in his own take on the Doc Savage mythos. I await with anticipation his new twist on the old characters and background material. Jean does so many new things that I do not want to give spoilers to his story line.
In any case I am enjoying this exercise in creative writing and I hope that other Doc Savage fans will likewise enjoy them.
One thing I hope to see in the future are some graphic images by Jean depicting the characters and scenes from his story.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In 1966 author Truman Capote wrote an intense docudrama book -- what he called a non-fiction novel -- about the 1959 mass murder of the Clutter family in the small Kansas town of Holcomb where people did not even lock their doors at night. It was entitled In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences. The murders had been done by a couple of drifters and Capote told their story in meticulous detail. His coverage and writing of this story was the basis for the recent critically acclaimed movie Infamous (2006) which boasted an all star cast including Toby Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Daniel Craig, Sandra Bullock, Gwyneth Paltrow, Isabella Rosselini, Jeff Daniels, and Peter Bogdonavich. This was one of the best films I have seen in recent years and I recommend it highly.
In his original book, Truman Capote had a scene in the county courthouse where they are discussing the fate of the two murderers. A local minister brings up how Doc Savage would handle the case not by execution or incarceration, but by operating on the killers brains and curing them.
The Reverend Post, overhearing the conversation, joined in. "Well,"
he said, passing around a snapshot reproduction of Perry Smith's portrait of
Jesus, "any man who could paint this picture can't be one hundred percent
bad. All the same it's hard to know what to do. Capital punishment
is no answer: it doesn't give the sinner time enough to come to God.
Sometimes I despair." A jovial fellow with gold-filled teeth and a silvery
widow's peak, he jovially repeated, "Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I
think old Doc Savage had the right idea. " The Doc Savage to whom he
referred was a fictional hero popular among adolescent readers of pulp magazines
a generation ago. "If you boys remember, Doc Savage was a kind of
superman. He'd made himself proficient in every field -- medicine,
science, philosophy, art. There wasn't much old Doc didn't know or
couldn't do. One of his projects was, he decided to rid the world of
criminals. First he bought a big island out in the ocean. Then he
and his assistants --he had an army of trained assistants -- kidnapped all the
world's criminals and brought them to the island. And Doc Savage operated
on their brains. He removed the part that holds wicked thoughts. And
when they recovered they were all decent citizens. They couldn't commit
crimes because that part of their brain was out.Now it strikes me that surgery
of this nature might really be the answer to --"
A bell, the signal that the jury was returning, interrupted
This reference is probably the cultural high point for Lester Dent's creation and it shows that even a pulp magazine icon may have important ramifications above and beyond the world of mere entertainment.
Tom Tryon was a handsome leading man in the 1950s and 1960s who was born in 1926 and died in 1991. He appeared in such films as The Millionaire, I Married a Monster from Outer Space, Moon Pilot, The Longest Day, Dr. Kildare , and The Cardinal. He also had a number of TV roles including that of Texas John Slaughter for The Wonderful World of Disney.
Today he is best remembered for his novels, most notably The Other (1971) and Harvest Home (1973). It is in the novel The Other that he has a Doc Savage reference in Chapter 1:
Frowning slightly, Niles carefully removed from a pocket a chameleon on a fine silver chain. He dropped it inside his shirt with the tobacco tin, then scrambled across to an upended crate partially hidden by the baskets. A divider in it held a pile of dog-eared magazines. He dug one out, then returned to the pool of light, holding it up to the flame. On the cover a man was struggling against a pack of vicious wolves, their fangs dripping gore onto the snow as they attacked a dogteam hopelessly entangled in the harness of a sled.
"'Doc Savage and the Winter Kingdom of the Akaluks,'" Niles read aloud. He peered expectantly beyond the candlelight into the dark. "Holland?"
"I've got this idea, see? For snow."
"Snow." Holland sniggered; was always sniggering.
"Sure. Like Doc Savage and the Winter Kingdom. Remember the frozen tundra? Well, with snow we could have our own Winter Kingdom down here."
"How?" He sounded mildly curious.
"Easy. With cattails."
"Cattails? You mean bulrushes? " Guffaws.
"Sure — bulrushes. It's a good idea, no kidding. If we went down to the river and got cattails, we could shred 'em up and have snow all summer. A Winter Kingdom — huh?" He watched Holland's face while he gave it thought; somehow he was always the one to make the decisions. Certainly Niles was pleased to be with him, pleased with his company, pleased they were not only brothers but friends as well. Only, truthfully, they weren't — not really. Not that Niles didn't desire it — they just weren't close. Niles found Holland strange, unpliant, distant. Often secretive, brooding. Of a dark nature.
Holland was his own person, a loner, and who was there could do anything
Watching, Niles saw Holland's solemn wink. The Winter Kingdom was pronounced as having possibilities. He felt elated; clever, Holland had called him. In the flickering candlelight he considered how little their contemplation of each other across the dimly lighted space did to bring them closer together, though he passionately wished it. Holland was wearing his favorite pink shirt and khaki shorts rolled at the thighs. His eyes shone remote and glassy like a cat's in the night. Gray like all the Perrys', sober and deep-set under a shock of sun-whitened hair, they were oddly tilted at the corners beneath dark slanting brows, giving occasional random expressions a curiously Oriental cast; sometimes it seemed he must have come riding with Genghis Khan across the steppes from Tartary.
Niles returned the magazine to the crate and resumed his place.
When this novel was filmed in 1972, it included a scene with a shot of a paperback with the title "Doc Savage and the Winter Kingdom of the Akaluks" and a cover that was as described above. This was, of course, not a real Doc Savage novel but it was an homage in one of the premier psychological thrillers of that period.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The Farmerphile Magazine Issue #14 has several articles that will be of interest to Doc Savage fans.
First of all well known artist Keith Howell is presenting for the first time a graphic representation of the the Wildman Coat of Arms that Phil Farmer had first described in his biographical work Doc Savage: An Apocalyptic Life. Win Eckert arranged for this and I encourage all Doc Savage fans to thank him for this. I have been waiting 34 years for this. Hopefully the new coat of Arms will be available for t-shirts, posters and coffee mugs.
Then we have a excerpt from the new novel written by Phil Farmer and Win Eckert The Evil in Pemberley House. It is the story of Doc Savage's daughter Patricia as she comes to claim her rightful inheritance in England in 1973. The story has many connections to the Wold Newton Universe and its extended family of adventurers. Currently, the authors are searching for a publisher. It is hoped that this completed story will be published very soon.
There is also an article by Savageologist Rick Lai The Doc Ravage Presidential Campaign. All of you are familiar with Rick Lai's masterful Doc Savage Chronology. This new article should be a real treat.
They are also running an article of mine This Played in Peoria? which is based on a brief speech I made at the Farmercon 90 celebration of Phil Farmer's 90th birthday in July 2008.
You may follow the link below to order your copy:
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Dr. Clark Savage Sr. (aka James Clarke Wildman, aka James Wilder) loved several beautiful women in his life many of whom died tragically.
In the mid 1880s, James Wilder met Priscilla Travis while he was traveling under the alias 'Clark Savage' with his cousin Richard Henry Savage. She was a vivacious young New York socialite and the sole heir to her father's railroad fortune. She belonged to the same illustrious family as William B. Travis who was the commander of the Alamo during its last stand against Santa Ana. Her Uncle Milt Travis was a Texas Ranger and one of the sidekicks of Jim Hatfield the "Lone Wolf " Ranger.
Priscilla's father, John, had made his fortune investing in railroads in Texas and other places in the southwest. Once he had amassed sufficient wealth he moved the family to New York to live the High Life along with other millionaires. At the time 'Clark' and Priscilla met in 1892, her father had died from heart disease and her mother was ill with some type of abdominal cancer (probably ovarian) from which she perished in 1896.
Priscilla had reddish-auburn hair and green eyes. She was a flirt and a bit of a scandal. She had no living relatives other than her ailing mother and lived entirely on her own. She had met 'Clark Savage' at a New York party and the two were immediately attracted. James Wilder was known for liking 'fast company'. They kept in touch frequently and James even established a residence in New York City under the alias 'Clark Savage' so they could spend time together. Priscilla was one of the few people who knew that Englishman James Wilder and American 'Clark Savage' were the same person. She often traveled to Baltimore in secret when James entered medical school at Johns Hopkins. She never told anyone where she was going and she traveled under different assumed names. Their friends thought it was all very romantic and mysterious and expected that it would be only a matter of time before Priscilla and James would become engaged.
But Priscilla still had casual liaisons with other young men in between her visits to 'Clark.' He knew about this but he did not mind. Priscilla was a 'wild child' and that is what attracted him to her. He did not seriously entertain the idea of marrying her. Their relationship was one of mutual enjoyment. He doubted that 'Prissy' could ever be a proper wife. As Clark became more involved in his medical studies, and her mother became more ill, Priscilla's visits became less frequent.
When James learned about his family's financial problems in 1894, he left the US to go to Canada leaving Priscilla with the promise that he would return. In fact, he never did. During his adventures which were chronicled in Ian Cameron's book "The Lost Ones", James Wilder fell in love with a Viking-Eskimo maiden, Freyja, who died a tragic death. After the conclusion of this adventure, James was taken home by Ned Land and met Arronaxe Larsen, Ned's granddaughter and the daughter of Wolf Larsen. The two were married and when James had finally saved his family's fortune in Canada, he and Arronaxe went to England in the hopes that his real father would now claim him as the true heir to the Holdernesse Legacy. Alas, that was not to be.
Priscilla was not a blushing wall flower and she loved male companionship. When letters from 'Clark' stopped coming (even before his captivity with the Viking-Eskimos) she did not stay unattached for long. Priscilla bounced back and started dating again. She never heard from 'Clark' after 1895. For all intents and purposes 'Clark Savage' had disappeared without a trace.
Ironically, 'Clark' had introduce her to his friend Hubert Robertson who was in a loveless marriage arranged by his father. Hubert and Priscilla became clandestine lovers and this lead to the ultimate decline of Hubert's marriage. They kept their affair secret because if word got out, Hubert's father would have disowned him. The lovers were very discrete. In fact, Priscilla kept up the pretense that she was still seeing the missing 'Clark' on secret rendezvous when in fact she was actually with Hubert.
Eventually Hubert's father died and shortly thereafter, Hubert discovered that his wife was having affairs with several different men one of whom claimed he wanted to marry her. He confronted his wife with the evidence, never revealing his own adultery. They mutually agreed to a divorce for 'irreconcilable differences.' The divorce decree was to be finalized in June of 1901, and Hubert planned to wed his beloved Priscilla at sea in the Mediterranean that summer with his friends from Harvard -- James Wilder and Gunter Asch -- in attendance. He had purchased a schooner in Jamaica for the occasion, the Orion.
Robertson accepted a position as a visiting professor in Zoology at the College de France in Paris that year and he sailed his yacht to Marseilles. Priscilla secretly came to Paris in the late summer and the two had an early "pre-honeymoon" while he was teaching. For reasons of propriety, they tried to keep their relationship secret even from the faculty of the College. But such a thing is almost impossible to do when you are young and in love in Paris. In the US, all that her friends knew was that Priscilla was living "somewhere in Paris". Most of her American friends believed that she had gone to Europe to be near her old flame Clark Savage. In Paris, Priscilla actually lived under the assumed name, Clarisse Dauphin. No one ever suspected the relationship between Priscilla and Hubert though it became well known at the college that he had a mistress in Paris.
In late May of 1901, the events chronicled in The Adventure of the Priory School occurred and Hubert along with the Wilders, Priscilla, and Gunter Asch set out early for the Caribbean. While at sea, Hubert as captain of the ship married his Priscilla and it was duly noted in the ship's log. Wilder decided to assume the identity of Clark Savage again and Arronaxe was given the alias of Clarisse Dauphin. Since she spoke fluent French, they figured that she could pull off the deception. On board the Orion, Robertson recorded another marriage ceremony between Clark and Clarisse in the log.
The story of Doc Savage's birth has been told before and we will not go into detail about it here. Arronaxe finally realized she was 3 months pregnant during their flight from England. Clark Savage Junior was born on the Orion during a light squall near Andros Island in the Bahamas. They got word to Ned Land who came to help find the treasure and to see his grandchild. Neither of the marriages nor the birth were registered in the Bahamas. It was their intention to do so upon landing in New York.
Seeing that he had a strapping new son, Clark Sr. determined that he would do as much for his child as he could. He would be a better father to his son than his own father had been. Dr. Asch ran a clinic in Switzerland which specialized in assisting in the rehabilitation of the wealthy and powerful -- especially the children of such people -- who had handicaps and moral failings such as alcohol or cocaine addiction. Asch had theories about the raising of children and how to maximize their potential. Clark Sr. asked Asch to help design a program so that his son would be raised scientifically.
When they found the treasure they informed the Bahamian authorities and had it sent back to New York on a bonded cargo ship. Gunter Asch had gone back to Germany over the summer, but he returned in November to assist at the birth. Afterwards he returned to Germany by commercial liner. He planned to meet the Savages in New York to help them start the training program for Clark Jr.
As the Orion was sailing to New York, it was caught in a terrible storm. The ship was literally torn apart by waves and wind. The only survivors were Hubert Robertson, Clark Senior, Clark Junior, and Ned Land. The women and the other crewmen were all lost. Hubert was able to salvage some records, but the ship's log was lost.
My sources record an incredible story, the veracity of which I cannot confirm, but I present it to you anyway. You may believe it or not. It appears that Arronaxe had baby Clark Jr. in her arms at the time that the ship broke up and she drowned in the ocean. The survivors struggled to find each other in the stormy seas for several hours. Eventually Clark Sr, Hubert and Ned were able to find a life boat and get into it. At first they could not find any other survivors including baby Clark. They feared that he had been drowned with his mother, but after dawn as the storm calmed they heard a loud wailing that sounded like a baby crying. They followed the sound and found a naked baby Clark floating on his back and screaming like a banshee. None of them believed that a baby could have survived for several hours in the cold waters of the Atlantic without dying of hypothermia. When they got him out of the water, baby Clark was hot to the touch. His body had already compensated for the cold water. They wrapped him in a woolen blanket and he slept fitfully.
They were only in the water for 32 hours when they were rescued by a ship of the US Revenue Cutter Service (the organization which was later renamed the Coast Guard in 1915). During that day in the lifeboat, the men rehearsed their story so that there would be no confusion.
In order to conceal his identity, it was decided that James would continue to use the alias of Clark Savage and that Arronaxe's real name would not be mentioned. Originally Clark Sr. was going to continue to claim Clarisse Dauphin as his wife's name, but Hubert objected. He recommended that instead, Clark Sr. should claim that Priscilla was his wife and the mother of his child. His reasoning was this. The relationship between Clark Savage and Priscilla Travis was well known and of long standing. No one knew about her relationship with Hubert. When Priscilla had gone to Europe, most people had assumed she was meeting Clark. It was far more believable that they might have gotten married than that she had married Hubert. Besides, Priscilla had a sizable family fortune of which Clark Sr could make good use. Hubert had his own fortune which was much larger and he did not need Priscilla's money. And technically, as her husband, the disposition of her estate was up to him anyway. With the ship's log gone, the survivors could say whatever they liked. Besides, this would give baby Clark one parent who was a proven American citizen so that he could be guaranteed American citizenship even if his father's identity as a British subject was ever discovered. Ned Land agreed to the deception to protect the future prospects of his grandson.
James Wilder alias "Clark Savage" took a cold hard look at what had happened in his life. His own weakness for bad companions had caused him to deceive and then kidnap his own younger brother. It also cost the life of Dr. Heidegger from the Priory School. It could also have cost the life of his younger brother. Wilder had caused great anguish to his father the Duke of Holdernesse who out of fatherly concern assisted him in escaping from England to avoid prosecution for kidnapping and murder. James' actions had most certainly cost the life of his beloved wife and it was only by the grace of God that their son had survived. This is where Clark Sr. decided that he needed to make amends for his many sins. His life was failure. He was on the run from the law and was certain that it was only a matter of time before the caught up with him. He decided that his son would be means of atonement. Young Clark Jr. would not only be raised "scientifically", but with the purpose of righting the wrongs done in the world and making it a better place. The plan would come into better focus as time went on but this is where the germ of it began.
When Gunther Asch came to America to help in Clark Jr.'s training, he likewise became a willing party to the deception about Priscilla and embraced the vision of making Clark Jr. an
übermensch. After Asch and Clark Sr. had had a falling out years later, Asch returned to Germany and eventually told the true story of Doc Savage's birth and training to German Intelligence.
So it was decided that the mother that Clark Sr. identified on baby Clark's birth certificate would be Priscilla Travis Savage who had supposedly become pregnant in the Fall during their tryst in Paris. Clark Sr. and Priscilla had been allegedly married on board the Orion by Robertson in January 1901. Priscilla was supposed to have stayed on board the yacht during her confinement and given birth on May 25th assisted by Dr. Asch. After the birth, the Orion sailed to the Caribbean. When they sailed, Hubert ostensibly brought along his French mistress, Clarisse Dauphin. With the log gone, and all the survivors in agreement, the deception was successful.
This identification allowed Clark Sr. to lay claim to the Travis estate and -- along with the money from the treasure found in the Caribbean -- it assisted him in establishing himself on Wall Street and starting the unique training program for his son.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Academically, Mathilda showed a penchant for literature and history. She entered undergraduate training at age 14 and started graduate studies at 17. She earned a PhD in English literature and eventually completed another PhD in European History. Linguistics was also one of her hobbies and she has earned a Masters in that field. Like father like daughter.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
A mysterious pale complected stranger named Ool with watery blue eyes, a black cape and an odd accent stalked New York City. The stranger used a fluttering motion of his hand to bring sudden death! He was searching for a pair of thick black-lensed goggles which were the key to finding a hidden realm under the frozen north where giant mushrooms grew and all manner of strange fungi.
In solving this mystery, Doc and his crew found a lost civilization that had gone underground thousands of years ago. These people had adapted to life underground and were technologically advanced. There sole source of light is strange device that makes the air itself glow but it can only be seen using the black lensed goggles. The primary source of food for him these people were fungi and fish.
Who were these people and how was it that they had adapted to living in a land where it is always night?
Several of the Doc Savage Super Sagas describe lost human races that had gone underground thousands of years ago to avoid some great catastrophe. The discovery of the city of Taz in the Super Saga "The Mystery Under the Sea" points to a technologically superior civilization that once existed in a sunken land in the Atlantic Ocean which led to the fabled story of Atlantis.
The strange pale people of the Land of Always Night must have been a colony from that same culture which went underground to avoid whatever destroyed Taz. This was a radical solution since it meant that they had to live in total darkness. Whatever they were fleeing must have been truly monstrous.
Of necessity, these refugees needed to make a number of adaptations, including genetic ones in order to survive. To begin with, they lost most of their skin pigmentation since they did not need protection for the sun's ultraviolet rays. But as a consequence, they could not use sunlight to manufacture Vitamin D3 which is generated by UVB rays in surface people. Furthermore, they had no good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Retinoids, and other nutrients which only come from green plants.
Then there were the vision problems. In a world with no high-output light source, vision would be practically useless and the "glowing air" device they had was decidedly unreliable in moist air as the Super Saga showed. Color vision especially requires much higher levels of ambient light than one finds underground. The goggles only enhanced light and dark vision and did not distinguish color.
The goggles themselves used photomultiplier technology and they were not merely crystal filters as the Super Saga implies. The power source was a small nuclear reactor that used a high yield radioactive isotope. The radiation was contained by a light-weight ceramic material.
According to my sources, the true capabilities of the Night People were not disclosed in the Super Saga to prevent a panic. For a variety of reasons, these people preferred to remain in their underground world and it is a good thing that they did!
I have discovered that the Night People were an artificially enhanced client race that the Taz civilization had developed to perform tasks such as mining and manufacturing in the depths of the Earth. They also were apparently granted abilities to make them effective underground soldiers to counter a threat from an underground source. One may speculate that the Night People were put in place to prevent the incursion of the underground realm of XINAIÁN into Taz's territories. the story of the XINAIÁN realm has been told in the Story "The Mound" by Zealia Bishop and H. P. Lovecraft.
In order for them to function effectively underground, the Night People had been given several anatomic and physiological endowments. First of all their livers had been enlarged and were capable of synthesizing several biologically important substances that surface people must obtain from vegetable sources including Vitamin C, Biotin, Vitamin A and a host of retinoids and bioflavinoids.
They had a particular enzyme system derived from sulfur-reducing bacteria that was capable of actively generating 2-carbon fragments from carbon dioxide and synthesizing sugars in a manner similar to photosynthesis but in the absence of sunlight. This same system activated Vitamin D3 as well without light. This process generally used sulfur as the terminal electron acceptor, but could use other molecules including sulfite, thiosulfate, acetonitrile, and even oxygen as the terminal electron receptors. The other sulfur-containing substrates are not very efficient, acetonitrile produces hydrogen cyanide which is toxic, and oxygen is frankly damaging to the organelle that houses the enzyme system if it is used for very long. For this reason while they can use othere compounds for short periods of time, elemental sulfur is a requirement in the Night People's diet to maintain optimum health. There was quite a bit of sulfur in their underground realm and this allowed the Night People to survive on a diet that would be substandard for surface people.
Sulfur was the most common material used in this process. This generated hydrogen sulfide which gives the Night People and their realm the distinct odor of 'rotten eggs.' Hydrogen sulfide is highly toxic and is chemically very similar to hydrogen cyanide. As a consequence, the Night People are very tolerant of both of these poisonous chemicals. The same protective mecahnisms also make them resistant to carbon Monoxide too. Nevertheless too much of any of these three chemicals can be fatal even to them. Trying to survive for too long on a substandard diet may result in auto-intoxication for them. They have several pathways to detoxify hydrogen sulfide including the synthesis of the essential amino acids cysteine and methionine both of which contain sulfur. There are also bacteria in the the intestines of Night People which can oxidise hydrogen sulfide to elemental sulfur and sulfates.
The capability to use sulfur to power chemical syntheses is present in intracellular organelles called sulfoplasts. These are similar in size and design to the mitochondria in eukaryote cells that use oxygen to generate cellular energy and the chloroplasts in plants in which photosynthesis occurs. The sulfoplast has its own DNA and protein synthesis system that uses unique ribosomes unlike those used in the main cytoplasm of the cell.
Night People also have been given enhanced retinal sensitivity to light and dark with a greater density of rods in the central area of the macula and a relative paucity of cones compared to the eyes of surface people. Consequently, their color vision is less sensitive than ours, but their night vision is extraordinary. The sensitivity of the rods has been shifted deeper into the infrared as well to improve thier vision. Their irises and pupils are enlarged compared to that of surface dwellers to let in more light.
Their eyes have also been designed to be "inside out" when compared to that of surface dwellers. (It is rumored that this is an extremely rare genetic variation among surface humans as well.) The human eye normally sends the optic nerve inside the eye and then spreads out to form the retina. Where the nerve enters the eye is a physiological "blind spot" which we normally suppress so that it is unnoticeable. The Night People form the retina from behind like the Octopus.
The macula in surface people is insensitive to light and dark but highly sensitive to color. It is the most central part of our visual field and is necessary for reading and fine detail vision. At night we have two blind spots in each eye including one at each macula! But the Night People because of the way their eye is constructed have no blind spot at all.
The Night People have also inherited the ability to generate large amounts of electrical voltage in their bodies that can further increase the sensitivity of the retina. It allowed them to boost their vision in the same way that night vision goggles do using a photomultiplier effect. It also gave them a kind of "Radar Sense" that allowed them to perceive nearby objects in the dark using capacitance and radiowave projection.
The photo-multiplier ability fades with age as the eye becomes less sensitive to light. The power to generate electircal potential also decreases with age. That is the reason why the Night People developed the goggles which figure so prominently in the Super Saga. Ordinary young and middle aged people are able to see the "glowing air" effect with their naked eyes and have some limited color vision which makes the world look like a pastel-colored sepia photo. But the villain, Ool, (who was an older man) could not see the "glowing air" reliably. That is why he had the set of goggles with him when he escaped. Even so, he still had the ability to generate an electrical field sufficient to shock a surface dweller.
This ability to generate electricity is similar to that of the electric eels and a full sized adult male Night Person could generate a hefty shock which could be used as an offensive weapon. About one Night Person in a hundred is an adept who has an even greater electrical power which could generate potentially lethal shocks over short distances even though there was no direct contact with the victim. This power can be enhanced by selective mating of adepts with each other, but the Night People's government forbade the interbreeding of adepts except under a specific license. The adepts are automatically trained for the police and the military, but they are forbidden to be members of the ruling class. Any adept born into a noble family must renounce his or her claim to any title.
Other genetic differences included enhanced senses of smell, taste, touch, and hearing which use a similar electrical multiplier mechanism to the one that enhances their vision. The ears of the Night People are slightly larger than ours and their heads are wider to separate the ears more and enhance their ability to detect and localize sounds and echoes. Night People have a sensitivity to ultrasonic frequencies slightly better than that of dogs but not anywhere near that of bats. In the dark they can navigate by sound alone.
They also have longer more sensitive fingers and toes than surface people. Their skin contains light sensitive cells which gives them enhanced Dermo-Optical Perception. They are able to detect light and dark (and even some color) using these skin receptors in low-intensity light. Using this talent they could read the words in a book under starlight using their finger tips.
While vision remains the dominant sense for these people, hearing is a close second and the structure of their brains reflects this with enlargement of the auditory cortices. They also have enhanced spatial orientation skills. But their bodies are designed to move slowly and carefully in the dark and they cannot run for long distances. But they are great climbers and have a powerful grip in their fingers and toes.
Since the Night People's diet is primarily fish and fungi, it is low in carbohydrates and saturated fats. They have relative glucose intolerance and can become diabetic on some normal surface dweller's diets. Ool was quite smitten with chocolate candies on his first trip to the surface. He did not realize that even though they tasted good, for his race they were not a healthy food. A moderate amount of roughage may give them intestinal cramps and even constipation. They also can be overdosed with fat soluble vitamins from dietary sources because these are synthesized in their liver. And the saturated fats from red meats can cause premature cholesterol plaque formation and accelerated atherosclerosis. A well balanced diet can keep the production of hydrogen sulfide to a minimum and decrease the "rotten egg" odor to a point where it is not noticieable by surface dwellers.
Night People are very sensitive to light. They are virtually blind in direct sunlight and will get sunburned easily. Their skin does contain some melanin because it enhances the ability of their radar sense to detect the presence of other people. Some few Night People have a melanin content which approaches that of fair-haired Scandinavians.
Because they are so well suited to their underground environment, the Night People are happy to remain where they are. But now that Ool has escaped and found that the upper world is inhabitable, we should not be surprised if some Night People may venture forth into our world for either befeficent or nefarious reasons.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
The South American adventure entitled "The Mental Wizard" was first published in March of 1937. Doc and his crew discovered an exotic woman named "Z" whose every strand of hair has been coated with pure gold! Furthermore, this woman had a genius IQ, could read minds, project emotions, and even cause visual hallucinations.
We discover that she is a Princess from a lost colony of Egyptians who live in an underground city in the Amazon Basin. Their ancestors allegedly came across the Atlantic Ocean before the reign of King Tut led by the Pharaoh Klantic who had discovered the secret of incredible mental powers. They had created an underground city in the southern side of the Amazon inside a mile-long statue of Klantic himself. Any visitors to this lost Egyptian world were not allowed to leave. The ruling family was descended from Klantic himself and Z was the last of her line. The people in the lost city waited anxiously for Klantic to return them.
During her brief trip to the outside world, Z taught herself English and astounded Doc by reading technical journals with incredible ease. She also could read the thoughts of those around her. At one point when she felt that Doc and his men were being ambivalent, she was able to use her powers to make them all fall in love with her simultaneously. But of course, her eyes were really on Doc!
Supposedly, the secret of her powers was a reddish dust that was stored in the temple of the city and which she had ingested during her childhood. Monk Mayfair tried it and all it did was give him indigestion. Meanwhile he began to analyze the powder but we never learned its secret.
During their sojourn in the city, Doc Savage was able to 'prove' to the populace that he was actually Klantic who had returned to his people. While he was there, the people feasted and Doc did not catch on until they were half-way through that it was a wedding ritual for him and Z.
The mystery of Z and her powers was never solved in the story. It was assumed that she inherited them genetically and that there was no way to induce such powers in others.
Recent information has come to light concerning the actual identity of "Klantic". It seems that the time when Klantic and his people fled Egypt was right after the events recorded in the Book of Exodus in the Bible. The Pharaoh at that time was Ramses II who had many sons by many wives and concubines. One of his sons Khalfani Kek (meaning "the dark Lord Kek shall rule") became a priest and a wizard. It was he and his fellow wizards who did battle with Moses in Pharaoh's court in Exodus:
And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
"When Pharaoh says to you, 'Prove yourselves by working a
miracle,' then you shall say to Aaron, 'Take your rod and cast it down before
Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'"
So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the LORD
commanded; Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and his servants, and it
became a serpent.
Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers;
and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts.
For every man cast down his rod, and they became
serpents. But Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.
Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded; in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, he lifted up the rod and struck the water that was in the Nile, and all the water that was in the Nile turned to blood.
And the fish in the Nile died; and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts; so Pharaoh's heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them; as the LORD had said.
So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.
But the magicians did the same by their secret arts, and brought frogs upon the land of Egypt.
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your rod and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.'"
And they did so; Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and struck the dust of the earth, and there came gnats on man and beast; all the dust of the earth became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.
The magicians tried by their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast.
We can see that according to the biblical account, the Egyptian magicians had true powers and up to a point they were able to match their power against Moses and Aaron. Eventually though Moses and Aaron were able to perform feats that they could not duplicate and so the magicians failed which led to a disastrous defeat for Ramses. In his anger the Pharaoh banished his son, Khalfani Kek and his entire retinue of priests from Egypt. When he did so, they took the secret of their arcane arts with them and -- using their powers -- sought refuge from Ramses wrath on the other side of the world. The name "Klantic" is just a corruption of "Khalfani Kek."
We know that in Alexandria Egypt there were ancient adepts known as the Alchemists who used a form of gold in a white powder that was known as 'mfkzt' or the Paradise Stone. This powder was used to make conical cakes that were ingested by the Pharaohs. It was revered as nourishment of the 'light body' (the ka) and was said to increase general aptitudes of leadership, such as awareness, perception and intuition. It was also thought to increase longevity. There was a fabled "Elixir of Life" made from this gold by the alchemists which purportedly had the ability to restore youth and perfect health. There is also the rumor of a hidden civilization where a form of gold turned human blood a golden color and granted longevity. (See the story "Golden Blood" by Jack Williamson.)
This white 'mfkzt' powder has been identified with an allotrope of gold known as m-state gold. M-state elements are a unique form of gold and other transitional metals such as silver, platinum, iridium, copper, and rhodium which are much more biologically active than their metallic form.
A mono-atomic element is not the same as a colloid. Colloidals are still in metallic cluster form, albeit in very small clusters. A colloidal element is one with a particle size so small that it will not settle out but remains evenly and semi-permanently suspended in water. However, a colloid is still in its metallic state, and exhibits the normal chemical properties of that metal.
In m-state, atoms have their electrons paired up into what are called "Cooper pairs". These Cooper paired electrons are not available as valence electrons and therefore do not form molecular bonds. An atom must have the ability to bond to other atoms of the same element in order to be metallic. Cooper pairing is one of the prerequisites of superconductivity, and in their m-state form, transitional elements are generally superconductive. While physicists have been searching for many years for room temperature superconductors, biologists have known for a long time that superconductive effects can be seen in living organisms.
Cooper pairing and superconductivity are generally properties associated with Bose-Einstein Condensates or BECs. BECs are substances which are composed of many atoms but which behave as a single atom. The common current belief among physicists is that BECs cannot exist at temperatures much higher than absolute zero or in a superconductive matrix structure. However, m-state elements may be the exception to this rule.
The Cooper-pairing of the electrons in these atoms or di-atoms seems to create a Meissner effect around each atom/diatom unit. This Meissner field provides a non-local quantum connection between other nearby m-state units so that together they exhibit behavior which follows the rules of quantum mechanics. If you have a great number of these mono-atom/di-atom units they can exhibit quantum physical behavior at classical physics scales. M-state elements may function within organisms by facilitating communication between cells, and are especially abundant within brain tissue. Some assays done on pig and calf brains showed that they contained 2.5% iridium and rhodium by weight.
The reddish powder that was stored in the temple of Klantic may have been a stable form of transitional metals -- mostly composed of gold -- in a form in which it could easily be converted to the m-state by secret chemical processes. We already know that the Klantic scientists could manipulate gold in a way that is not possible for us even today. Even in the 21st Century, we are not able to coat individual human hairs in pure gold.
What Z had received in small amounts over her entire life had been specially prepared conical cakes of m-state forms of gold and other metals which were incorporated into her growing brain tissue. As she grew up, she was instructed in techniques and disciplines to make the best use of this m-state matrix within her central nervous system. This then was the source of her extraordinary mental powers.
The secret of this process was lost to the Old World when Ramses banished the failed priests and sorcerers from Egypt and for centuries alchemists in east and west have tried to recover it. But the real secret had gone across the Atlantic Ocean and had hidden itself in the jungle awaiting a time when the secrets would once again be of use to the world.
One wonders if this m-state gold may have also been responsible for the intelligence enhancing formula from the Super Saga The Too-Wise Owl published in March of 1942.
Now, Doc Savage has become heir to these secrets which he had not yet revealed to the world. It appears that he may have used the m-form of gold in his longevity formula. What else does he plan to do with these secrets?
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Carson Drew was the father of the teenage detective Nancy Drew. He had brown hair and blue eyes. He was originally from the small town of River Heights, Illinois. He was a widower in the 1930s and apparently had been a classmate of Ham Brooks at Harvard Law School. The books say that he was a graduate of "Hale University." I assume this meant that he attended Yale as an undergraduate and went on to Harvard for law.
His wife, Mildred Austin Drew, had died in 1914 when their daughter Nancy had been only three years old. Carson and Ham had gone into partnership in 1906 after Ham started his own law firm. During the Great War when Ham Brooks went into the French Foreign Legion, Carson Drew managed the practice for him. In the next decade Carson made a small fortune which remarkably survived the Stock Market Crash in 1929. In 1930, he retired and moved back to his home town, River Heights in Illinois. Carson opened up a small law office there to keep himself busy. The Drews got a dog name Togo and bought a three story brick house.
Carson Drew shared several cases with his daughter, Nancy. Father and daughter worked well together as a team. This relationship would would prove mutually beneficial and set Nancy on the course of her future career.
Carson's sister Eloise who had moved to New York with them initially was a teacher in a private school in New York City. She maintained an apartment in Manhattan and Nancy often went to the city to visit her. The Drews had a housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, who was an excellent cook and a staunch church-goer. She became a mother-figure to Nancy after the death of her mother. Hannah was constantly worried about Nancy and her father but they were both survivors and could take care of themselves.
Life in River Heights got boring for Carson, and when Nancy started college at age 20, Carson rejoined his old firm. It was noted in some of the stories that the town of River Heights was "not too far from New York City" and not in Illinois. This anomaly has been noted by several commentators. You can't have it both ways. The town of River Heights in the first Nancy Drew stories must have been in Illinois. There is a River Heights in New York State and it is possible that when Carson Drew rejoined his old law firm, he moved his family there out of sentiment for his home town. It should be noted that the cast of Nancy's friends changed in the later stories. This may have reflected the new location in New York.
Nancy followed in her father's footsteps and went to law school. She did a clerkship at her father's firm and eventually joined it. She married her long time boy friend, Ned Nickerson but kept her own name for business purposes. Their daughter, Nancy, was precocious like her mother and many of the "Nancy Drew" Stories from the 1950s and later were really about her.
Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen Ph.D., LL.D., F.R.S., M.D., M.D.S. (and several other degrees from France, England, Russia, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Spain) was a brilliant detective and polymath. He graduated from college at the age of 10! He had degrees in Physical Chemistry, Philosophy, Law, and Medicine, among others.
He was the youngest man ever to have held a chair in philosophy at Harvard but was asked to leave over his presentation of a startling and unorthodox hypothesis. Just a few weeks later he saved the life of the Assistant Dean of the Harvard Law School. (See the story My First Experience With the Great Logician.) The Dean was so impressed with his logical reasoning that he took an interest in the young academic. That was when Augustus turned his sights on the law and received in succession an LLB and an LLD from Harvard Law School. It was during these studies that he met Ham Brooks. Prof. Van Dusen cultivated an international reputation in several fields, but especially forensic investigation. He was inducted into the Royal Society of London as a Fellow under the sponsorship of his friend and colleague, Sherlock Holmes.
Van Dusen became another partner of Ham Brooks. Originally from Boston, he too was a classmate of Ham Brooks at Harvard and joined the firm after the Great War. He was a small, thin man with a huge head and a bulbous, protruding forehead; his hat size was 8. He has sparse straw-colored hair and darting, intelligent blue eyes which sat behind thick glasses. His face was white with the pallor of the student; his mouth was a bloodless slit. He was the typical obsessed academic who was constantly consumed with his various researches and had little or no social graces. He is described as being petulant, irascible, and bad-tempered.
He had had a teaching post at Harvard as a Full Professor in the Law School. He also did lecturing in other fields including Medicine, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, and Philosophy. He retired early from his post in 1919 after twenty years cumulative years teaching at Harvard. He was not a very popular lecturer and the students began to annoy him. But every student that took his courses (especially his course on criminal law) admitted that the grilling he gave them stood them in good stead in their later professional careers. He was far more popular with the alumni than with the student body.
While theirs was primarily a business law firm, Brooks and his partners occasionally handled criminal cases especially when the crimes occurred on the premises of their clients. They also handled malpractice cases and some technical cases that required a knowledge of Chemistry and Physics. Van Dusen helped investigate crimes at the client companies and was particularly good at detecting embezzlement and other white collar crimes. He also did much private consulting work as well. It was his preternatural insight with regard to client choice and investments during the 1920s that made the firm as wealthy and powerful as it became. He was well aware of the problems in the Stock Market long before October 1929. He tried hard to get reforms enacted but was unsuccessful. Happily, his keen insights helped to preserve the fortunes of his partners and their clients through the Great Depression.
Known as "The Thinking Machine", Van Dusen was a very methodical and exacting investigator. He had earned his nickname from a disgruntled Russian Chess Master whom he beat using pure brute-force reasoning after studying the rules of chess for less than a day. His legal briefs were succinct yet comprehensive and accurate. His contracts had no loop holes and he never missed a trick. He was merciless on depositions and cross examinations. Sadly, he did not have much rapport with the jury, so many times others did the final summations for him. He was neither the heart or soul of the firm, but its methodical brain.
Beau Rummell, lawyer and one-time partner of private detective Ellery Queen, was a wealthy, personable fellow who was the true front-man for the firm. He was quick with a joke and was every man's best friend. He also had a dazzling way with the ladies. He joined the firm in the late 1920s after finishing law school and just before Carson Drew retired. Ham Brooks saw that he was a natural people person which was something his other partner lacked. Rummell had been the co-founder of Ellery Queen's detective agency. He came to Ham's attention during the case known as The Dragon's Teeth. Beau was a bit of a maverick, but his flourish and style complimented the quiet dignity of Ham Brooks and the arid intellectuality of Prof. Van Dusen. And he kept the clients happy.
As Ham became more involved with Doc's work, he began to spend less time with the firm. His two sons eventually came on board (as would Nancy Drew-Nickerson at the end of the decade). But the firm needed a real leader to fill in for Ham during his absences. Neither Van Dusen nor Rummell really could do the job. Luckily, at that point, Carson Drew had had enough of the rural life and he returned to run the firm.
Under Carson Drew's mentoring, Rummell was able to focus his energies and he turned into a very fine lawyer. He was eventually offered a junior partnership in the late 1930s. Meanwhile, the firm often called on Ellery Queen to do investigative leg work in the same way that Perry Mason used to call on Paul Drake.
So this was the roster of the law firm Brooks, Drew, Van Dusen, and Rummell, attorneys at law.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Gertrude Reinhardt née Shumann is the middle aged secretary who is the office manager for Sun Koh's offices on Friedrichstraß in Berlin. She is the daughter of an Admiral and the widow of a battleship captain. She had worked as a government secretary for 20 years when she started working for Sun Koh. She had four sons and two daughters. Her sons each went into a different military service: the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and Military Intelligence. Her two daughters married military officers as well. Gertrude had the highest possible security clearance for a civilian civil servant. She also had no sense of humor and a frown that could turn a basilisk to stone. She ran a tight ship and could be trusted to hold down the fort in a crisis. On her desk she kept pencils in a pewter stein that her husband always took with him on his ships in the Great War. She also had a human skull with the top of the cramium removed in which she kept black-and-red wax wrapped sweets. These sweets had a smoked caramel center surrounded by dark bitter chocolate. To say the least they were an acquired taste. In her desk drawer she kept her father's old Mauser C96 "Broomhandle" pistol. It was one of the 9x25mm Mauser versions of this classic pistol from World War I configured for full automatic operation and designed to use ammunition magazines of different capacities. Gertrude prided herself on her ability to fire the weapon accurately even on full automatic. She carried it with her going back and forth to work everyday. In 1930s Berlin, a girl could not be too careful!
Gretchen Schulman is Rolf 'Schreck' Karsten's 'Gal Friday. ' She is the best documentary researcher in Germany and probably in western Europe. Gretchen is a petite blond with a smashing figure who dresses in a way that shows off her figure without appearing cheap. She keeps her blond hair in a large puffy hair-do that floats around her head like a cloud. She has a musical voice and is very conscious of the way people (especially men) perceive her. She is able to get the crustiest document guardian to let her "just take a peek." She exudes sexuality but is morally very conventional. She has been married and divorced twice and is Schreck's on-again/off-again lover. Hal Mervin has a boyhood crush on her. Even Sun Koh finds her very attractive.
Hal Mervin is the bellhop in the Hotel Adlon Berlin where Sun Koh keeps a suite. He was born in 1917 and was only 17 years old when he met Sun Koh in 1934. His father had died during the Great War and his mother had to raise him by herself. She eventually was forced into prostitution and Hal had to fend for himself much of the time. She died in 1933 under violent circumstances probably at the hands of SA thugs meting out vigilante justice. He is street-smart, self-reliant, and very observant. Hal has the uncanny ability to anticipate people's needs before they ask for anything and this makes him an excellent bellhop. He eventually becomes Sun Koh's personal valet and teen aged side-kick. Sun Koh becomes the Father he never had and personally supervised his education.
One of the few men in the world who can stand toe to toe with Sun Koh on technical matters was Dr. Ildefons Peters a brilliant though eccentric scientist from the University of Heidelburg who was so far ahead of his time that he was dismissed by his colleagues as a crackpot. His brother was Col. Roch Peters of the Bavarian Staatspolizei. He was the typical obsessed polymath researcher who routinely had brilliant insights which advanced the fields of physics, chemistry and engineering without any effort. He eventually becomes a valued member of the Technocrat movement that Jan Mayen headed and moved to their secret island base in the Pacific.
Dr. Joan Martini is an Italian archaeologist and anthropologist who is continuing her father's life work of trying to prove the existence of Atlantis in the deep past. Her father was an archaeologist and Egyptologist from the University of Rome who looked for parallels between the Egyptian and Meso-American high cultures. Joan is also a lecturer at the university and an internationally renowned expert on Meso-American Indians and the sources of their cultures in Pre-Columbian America. She is constantly looking for any possible links between the Americas and Europe, Asia ,and Africa during ancient times. Joan is a titian-haired beauty of refined manners. She is a devout Catholic and very careful of her virtue. She is also a genius with an encyclopedic knowledge of ancient lore from both the Old and New World.
The Martinis were direct descendants of the Italian King, Victor Emmanuel II through Joan's grandmother, and so Joan was technically a Princess. Her father Albert was a staunch Fascist in the 1930s who had previously been a Freemason who dabbled in the occult. Joan disagreed with her father's politics and his anticlericalism, but she was convinced that he was right about the links between the Old and New World.
She met Sun Koh during a hunt for a a lost city in the Amazon Basin. Sun Koh was captivated by her beauty and her intelligence as well as her virtue. She was the first modern woman of royal lineage that he found worthy of his attentions. This created an interesting triangle between Sun Koh, his consort Shani, and Princess Joan.