The first major situation is the "Invasion" having as its object the enslavement or extermination of all terrestrial inhabitants. The invaders themselves are usually depicted as monstrosities of some sort and are described by suitable negative connotive terms. Certain of these are intended to produce feelings of suspicion or dislike, for example, "sinister", "ominous", "fiendish", and -- worst of all -- "inhuman", while others, such as "ghastly", "gruesome", or "hideous", are designed rather, to evoke strong anxiety or horror. These may be called simply first and second order terms respectively.
There is still another class of "third-order" terms aiming to produce in the reader a feeling of intense dislike amounting to physical revulsion. In this collection, besides such general terms as "loathsome", "repulsive", and "disgusting", are those referring to the creature's more specific traits, e.g., its mode of locomotion -- "slithering", or "crawling" -- its unpleasant odor -- "fetid" or "nauseous" -- or the tactile sensations evoked -- "slimy", "clammy", or "viscid". (We have already encountered a few of these in Mr. Gilmore's description of man-eating protoplasm.)
In each case Man is assumed to be the standard of physical beauty, and any deviation from this is a proper subject for fear and detestation.
A representative "Invasion" story is Harl Vincent's Vagabonds of Space 4
Aboard the spaceship "Nomad", Carr Parker and his friend Mado are startled by a telepathic communication from a second craft, hopelessly engulfed within the Sargasso Sea, a gaseous suspension of living matter, situated just beyond Mars' orbit. "The third satellite of the fifth planet is our home" states the message, "visit it, we beseech you, and report the manner of our going."
After obeying these instructions the explorers are introduced to Detis, a European scientist, from whom they themselves receive unpleasant news; the unlucky ship has been en route to Earth and its allied planets to warn that the inhabitants of Ganymede are planning to subjugate the Solar System. "Your people can not combat their sound-ray," Detis informs them, "with it they can .. set the tall buildings of your cities in harmonic vibrations that will bring them down in ruins about the ears of the populace."
After listening to a further enumeration of the enemy weapons, the voyagers -- accompanied by Detis and his daughter Ora -- visit this neighboring satellite to confer with Rapaju, the Ganymedean naval commandant.
The Ganymedians possess both simian and canine characteristics:
A group of squat, sullen Llotta awaited them .. and led them into the forbidding entrance of the building. Close-set, beady eyes; unbelievably flat features of chalky whiteness; chunky boned legs, bare and hairy; long arms with dangling paws -- these were the outstanding characteristics of the Llotta.
Hapaju leered maliciously when the four voyagers stood before him. He looked the incarnation of all that was evil and vile, a monster among monsters.
Rapaju states that he will spare the lives of his guests on condition that they navigate the Ganymedean fleet to the inner planets and furnish information regarding the location of major terrestrial cities. To this proposal Mado and Parker pretend to accede.
A while later Parker finds himself on board the "Nomad", which the Ganymedean commander has appropriated for his own use as flagship. Seated at the ship's controls and cautioned not to deviate from the assigned course, Parker conceives a method of destroying the Ganymedean fleet, trailing directly behind: by grazing past the Sargasso Sea, now being approached, he can force the other vessels, whose pilots are ignorant of what this gaseous mass signifies, into its area of influence. This plan, variations induced by the machinations of Rapaju and the protests of the other Ganymedeans, and accompanied by Ora's screams, is eventually carried out, so that a single maneuver accomplishes several things simultaneously:
Below them they saw .. the fleet of the Llotta diving headlong, drawn inexorably into the rapacious embrace of the vile creature of the heavens ... Then, in a burst of blinding incandescence, it was gone. The monster, the fleet -- everything -- blasted into nothingness. The fuel storage compartments of the vessels of Ganymede had exploded! The heavens were rid of the inexplicable growing menace; the inner planets were saved from a terrible invasion.
It is not mandatory that the invaders be extra-terrestrial creatures. Victor Russeau's The Wall of Death,3 for instance, concerns malevolent protoplasm originating in the Antarctic:
The Argentine government had sent a force of twenty thousand men against them, armed with cannon, machine guns, tanks, airplanes, poison gas, and the new death ray. And in the night ... it had been overwhelmed and eaten ...
But the Argentine expedition had done worse than it at first dreamed of. It had given the monster a taste for human flesh!
After that, the wave of devastation had obliterated life in every city up to the Amazonian forest. And then it had discovered that, by feeding these devils human flesh, they could be rendered torpid and their advance stayed -- so long as the periodical meals continued!
At first criminals had been supplied them, then natives, then chinese, obtained by periodical war raids. What would you have? ... a frenzy of fear had taken possession of the whole world.
Here, then, we are presented with a "well-ordered" Hierarchy of Being, beginning with protoplasm, ascending through criminals, then "natives". and then Chinese, and culminating, presumably, in the untainted white American. The Wall of Death has, at least, the merit of presenting the theme explicitly" in most contemporary works it was simply assumed: the Agency of evil is portrayed as a member of another "race," with his inferiority implied but not stated.
As a final example of the "Invasion" let us outline another story by Mr. Russeau, The Invisible Death.
Fulfilling his boast that he "shall never stand on the gallows," Herr Von Kettler, member of the international conspiracy whose purpose it is to establish a world-wide autocratic government, disappears from his prison cell three minutes before his scheduled execution.
The next day, Captain Dick Rennel, attached to U.S. Intelligence, is informed that the government desires him to direct its campaign against these global terrorists.
" .. We're counting on you because of your record, and because of your degree in science at Heidelberg. The President wishes you to take charge of the whole Eastern Intelligence District. . You are to have complete freedom of action, and all civil, military, and naval officials have received instructions to co-operate with you."
Shortly after receiving this assignment the captain learns, via a message telephoned from the White House, that the President himself is being kidnapped. Dick races over to the Executive Mansion, but despite his heroic efforts the President is abducted by a group of invisible conspirators.
Previous to this, Dick's personal relationships had been faring little better, the behavior of his sweetheart, Fergonde Valmy, niece of the Slovakian Ambassador, radically changing.
"Of course", the girl went on, "with the Invisible Emperor threatening organized society, you gentlemen find yourselves extremely busy ..."
"Sometimes", said Dick slowly, "I almost think that you know something about the Invisible Emperor."
Again she laughed merrily .. "After all, he does stand for that aristocracy that has disappeared from the modern world, does he not? For refinement of manners, for beauty of life, for all those things men used to prize."
"Likewise for the existence of the vast body of the nations in ignorance and poverty, in filth and squalor" ...
"Be careful!" A warning fire burned in the girl's eyes. "At least, it is known that the Emperor's ears are long."
"So are a jackass's" retorted Dick.
He was sorry next moment, for the girl received his answer in an icy silence. In his car .. she received all overtures in the same silence. A frigid little bow was her farewell to him, while Dick, struggling between resentment and humiliation, sat dumb and wretched at the wheel.
There is no time, however, to brood over romantic affairs.
Dick toils ceaselessly, planning, receiving reports, organizing the flights of airplanes at strategic points throughout his district ... At night he threw himself upon a cot in his office and slept a sleep broken by the constant arrival of messengers.
A few days later, Captain Rennel, attending a meeting of the Council of Defense, an emergency group composed of various Cabinet Officers, watches Von Kettler "materialize" into the Conference room and deliver an ultimatum:
" ... an order signed by the President of your country .. ordering your military forces replaced upon a peace footing and the acceptance of our conditions ... They are not onerous... Merely a little change in that outworn document, the Constitution. My master rules America henceforward."
When these terms are rejected, Von Kettler becomes violent.
"Dogs ... Your doom is upon you even at this moment. I have but to wave my arm, and Washington shall be destroyed ... I warn you, such a catastrophe is coming as shall show you the Invisible Emperor does not threaten in vain!"
The statements of the Emperor's emissary are verified when an entire district of the Capitol is demolished by a squadron of invisible bombers. But cause for optimism is furnished by a shabby looking gentleman named Luke Evans who, from his station astride a Washington rooftop, manipulates a box-like device whose emanations -- a by-product of the "black gas" -- Luke's own discovery -- neutralizes the attacker's invisibility. (Luke, the author explains, had previously warned of an attack of this type, but had been dismissed as a madman.)
There follows a brief respite during which is delivered a second and final offer stating that unless the Capitol surrenders within twelve hours, "the Invisible Emperor would strike such a blow as should bring America to her knees!" Before the expiration of this period hostile action are recommenced: a gathering of Washington residents, joined in a "spontaneous uprising" to protest any attempt at surrender, are rapidly slaughtered when the Emperor's air force stages a surprise raid.
Two small boys, carrying a huge banner with "No Surrender" across it were walking off the ghastly field ... They were singing, singing the National Anthem, though their voices were inaudible through the turmoil.
Rat-tat! Rat-tat-a-tat! The fiends above loosed a storm of lead upon them. Both fell. One rose, still clutching the banner in his hand and waved it aloft. In a sudden silence his childish treble could be heard:
My country, 'tis of thee
Sweet land of lib-er-ty--
The guns rattled again. Clutching the blood-stained banner, he dropped across the body of his companion.
But this attack is "merely an incident": coincident with it a wave of poisonous gas, the "Invisible Death", begins to envelop the United States. Finding that the noxious vapor is being carried by a hurricane originating somewhere off the Florida coast, the Defense Council infers that Abaco Island, in the Bahamas, is the Emperor's most probable location and therefore plans a mass-raid upon it, utilizing the entire fleet and all available planes.
At the appointed time a squadron of fighter bombers, under the command of Captain Rennel, reaches its objective and begins the attack, first saturating the target with Evans' "black gas" and then dropping high-explosives. But the ingenuity of the Emperor's scientists soon becomes evident: from the island is projected a "vertical line of magnetic force" and the planes, their motive power nullified, are drawn irresistibly toward it and thence yanked downward into an inferno of their own creation. The Captain's plane is the only one not destroyed, but the shock of its rather violent landing knocks both Evans and himself unconscious.
Rennel awakens to discover that:
His wrists were loosely linked to a chain that seemed to stretch tight into vacancy and end in nothing. His ankles were bound likewise.
And both chains appeared to be of solid silver, but thick enough to give them the strength of iron!
... Dick cursed comprehensively ... Silver chains! They must be madmen -- yes, that was the only explanation. Madmen who had escaped from somewhere, obtained possession of scientific secrets, and banded themselves together to overcome the world.
Told that the Sovereign desires an interview, Dick is ushered before this august personage. "You were brought here," the Emperor informs him, "because I want one Yankee to live and see the irresistible powers that I exercise, so that he can go back and report to those fools in Washington who still think they can defy me, the messenger of the All-Highest."
Dick is then escorted up to the palace roof in order to witness the destruction of the approaching American fleet. On the way he receives from Von Kettler an account, punctuated liberally by such epithets as "Washington hog", "Yankee pig", and "American swine", of how his own squadron was destroyed (by the "practical application of Einstein's gravitation and electricity in field relation") and of the methods to be used against the American battleships.
Left alone on the roof-top to meditate on his sins and those of the United States, Dick loosens his bonds and re-enters the building, via a recently opened window, in time to witness the following:
"Did that feel good, American swine?" asked Von Kettler softly, and Dick saw, with horror, a red weal on the old man's forehead. "Now you are perhaps in a more gracious mood, Professor? The unknown isotope in that black gas of yours -- you are disposed to give us the chemical formula?"
"I'll see you in hell first," raved old Luke Evans, writhing in his chair ...
At that moment a door behind Evans' chair opened, and Fredegonde Valmy appeared ...
"You have been torturing him, Hugo!" she cried.
"Freda, what are you doing in here? Oblige me by withdrawing immediately!" cried Von Kettler ...
"I shall do nothing of the sort ... When you used me as a tool .. in Washington you played upon my patriotism for my country .."
"Hugo," she pleaded, "come away with me ... This is no heroic enterprise, it is wholesale murder ... Order that the vortex-ray be turned off," she went on. "That gas -- you cannot be so vile as to send it forth again, to destroy the American ships?"
"My dear Freda," retorted the young man coolly, "the vortex-ray is already charged with the gas, and at a height of twenty thousand feet it is now creating a vacuum that will send the gas upon the wings of a hurricane straight up the Atlantic seaboard. It will obliterate every living thing on board the battleships, from man to rats, and this time we mean to reach New York."
Running "like a madman" into the adjacent room, where the vortex-ray is being generated, Captain Rennel, wielding a heavy iron bar appropriated en route from the roof-top, disperses the technicians standing around the dynamo and quickly reverses its controls. Meanwhile, Von Kettler, terrified by the accompanying disturbance, runs out the door, thus giving the apostate Freda Valmy a chance to liberate the old man.
The concluding events follow in rapid sequence: Rennel, Evans, and Valmy race through various corridors, fetch the President from his cell, and emerge from the building, pursued by the enraged Von Kettler, now leading five or six guards.
Seizing a fighter plane, conveniently waiting in a nearby hanger, the fugitives rise heavenward, still followed by Von Kettler, at the controls of a second aircraft. In the ensuing aerial battle Von Kettler is shot down by the President himself, manning the rear machine-gun.
Returning to Abaco Island, some time later, the group is astonished to find that its entire population has been exterminated.
Upon his throne, head flung back, sat the Invisible Emperor, his features set in a sardonic leer of death. And all about him, some sitting, some lying .. were his court officers .. some in court dress. And all were dead too. But they had not known that they had died. (sic) They had fallen asleep -- upon the instant that their own volatile gas reached them.
"I guess that's the explanation, sir," said old Luke Evans. "Those devils made the whirlwind and charged it with the gas. But when you reversed that lever, you reversed the process. Instead of projecting the force outwardly, you made a suction, and every atom of the gas that hadn't travelled beyond the radius came rushing back and filled the building. If we'd entered a half-hour later, we'd have been dead ones ourselves, but the gas was volatile enough to disperse through the chinks and crannies ..."
Thus the "menace to world government" is destroyed.
In The Invisible Death it is assumed that systematic research programs, together with the manufacture of devices utilizing the results, can be accomplished by one small group of persons: the usurpers are
madmen who had escaped from somewhere, obtained possession of scientific secrets, and banded themselves together to overcome the world.
Such beliefs are no longer tenable; as a result of the "Manhattan Project" -- where a thousand men were often employed in the manufacturing of one minor subassemblage -- the concept of a few unaided individuals, insane or otherwise, making a fission bomb or any other type of "secret weapon" appears somewhat ludicrous.
Professor A. J. Cox has stated the matter as follows:
In the thirties pulp fiction in general had not yet recovered from certain basic assumptions which had found greatest favor in the preceding decades. One of these was that individuals "accomplish things" and thus, just as we had a good "Super-Scientist" (Dr. Huer), we could have the villainous "Mad Scientist."
The atomic bomb illustrated the point that scientific developments are the work of many --- in a "time-binding" sense of innumerable --- men. ... It was gradually becoming apparent that science was too vast a field for any one man to grasp completely -- that specialization was a necessity. This began to show up as explicit ideas in stories and editorials during the war when many of "Astounding's" writers were engaged in various scientific war projects. With the occurrence of the atomic bomb this concept was crystalized still further, this new attitude being clearly expressed by such titles as "Project Spaceship", "Operation Moon", etc.
Men, as individuals, no longer capitalize on discoveries, but only as groups -- the "Mad Scientist" becomes patently impossible ..
But this is not the complete story: the scientist, as conceived by the Clayton writers, also lacks some of the criminal's major prerequisites.
The habitual felon is concerned primarily with the sensual rather then the intellectual pleasures. When Malcolm is attempting to convince MacDuff of his own wickedness, he says
Further examples of this behavior are seen elsewhere:
Rapaju talked. He told of the armament of his vessels, painting vivid pictures of the destruction to be wrought in the cities of Terra, of Mars and Venus. His great hairy paws clutched at imaginary riches when he spoke glowingly of the plundering to follow. He spoke of the women of the inner planets and Carr half rose from his seat when he observed the lecherous glitter in his beady eyes. Ora! Great God, was she safe here? 4
Obviously, the "cold, calculating young man of science" 2 would not be guilty of such conduct.
On those rare occasions when the scientist does plan maliciously, he finds himself physically unable to carry out his evil designs: being timid and highly introspective, he naturally possesses the corresponding physiological attributes, i.e., he is a weak, sickly individual. This is why Commander John Hanson, after landing on S.F. Wright's "Ghost World", 16 expresses his gratitude at not being a "white-skinned, stoop-shouldered laboratory man."
The scientist's continual indoor confinement furnishes an additional explanation of his debility. In the words of Commander (now Captain) Hanson:
I have never seen a laboratory man who could stand the strain of prolonged physical exertion. Bending over test tubes and meters is no life for a man. 25
Of course, these disadvantages do not prevent his constructing death-dealing apparatus within the laboratory, but they do render him incapable of nefarious activities of a more virile kind.
Thus the scientist is presented as an object of ridicule rather than fear: effeminate, emotionally unadapted, and intellectually disoriented, he makes an unacceptable villain unless he suffers some sort of psychic derangement which alters his entire personality.
Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis
Data entry by Judy Bemis
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