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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Number 1403: Other Earths

Bram Hilton zips along through space at one million light years per second in his intergalactic bell jar. I assume he needs to go that fast because the bell jar is small with no refrigerator, microwave oven, wet bar or toilet, and he probably needs a lot of rest stops. What he's looking for with a “vibration-duplicator” guiding him are other Earths that are like our planet, just in different phases of time. He ends up in Troy and at the Lincoln assassination. Pretty good timing for taking vibration-duplicator potluck!

Murphy Anderson drew this story for Strange Adventures #10 (1951), and the writing is credited on the splash page to Manly Wade Wellman. Wellman wrote science fiction and fantasy for several decades, and I have read many of his stories and books. I don’t recall any of his prose fiction being as oddball as this comic book story, and I attribute that to editor Julius Schwartz handing him a plot to work from, and having Wellman do his best to make sense of it.











3 comments:

Kirk said...

Oddball story is right. Why not just use the tried-and-true time machine to take a character to different points in Earth's past? Only thing I can think of is the main character can change history--such as stopping Lincoln's assassination--without changing his own present, since he lives on a different "Earth".

Also, the main character is rather parochial. He has this machine that can take him anywhere in the universe, and he's only interested in Earth duplicates? I don't know about you, but if I had such a machine, I'd like to see some little green men or what-have-you.

Finally, it's a bit ironic to hear Helen talking about the "cunning trick of the Greeks." She was Greek herself. She was kidnapped by Paris of Troy, remember? (Though in some versions of the story, it might be considered a seduction.)

Ger Apeldoorn said...

A typical comic book story, about actions rather than consequences.

Pappy said...

Kirk, "...the main character can change history--such as stopping Lincoln's assassination--without changing his own present, since he lives on a different 'Earth'" is a good point. Maybe when the story was plotted the "butterfly effect" (from Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder") was considered. Or, more likely, owing to the lack of subtlety in short comic book stories which depend on a gimmick rather than a real plot, having the hero zip around space in such a ridiculous vehicle for a screwball reason may have just seemed like a good idea at the time.