Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I have just finished reading P. Schuyler Miller's 1952 science fiction collection THE TITAN.  Miller was a very popular writer for the sf pulps in the Thirties and Forties, contributing almost 50 stories.  Later in life, he was best know for The Reference Library, a monthly book review column in Astounding Science Fiction, which he wrote for twenty-five years.  His only professionally published novel was a collaboration with L. Sprague de Camp, GENUS HOMO.

     Although designed to show off much of Miller's best work, THE TITAN is an uneven collection.  The title novella was controversial in its day because of its (very mild) sexual content, and because the only magazine that would publish it was low-budget Marvel Tales, which ceased publication in 1935 after running three of its four parts.  It took seventeen years before science fiction fans could read the complete story in this collection.  The Titan tells of a buried civilization run by the Masters, the elite group which has a genetic time bomb in its blood;  the Masters purify their blood with regular infusions from the underclass, the Givers.  Korul, First Man of the Givers, develops a forbidden relationship with a princess of the Master class, which causes conflict when the Givers rise up against the Masters.  Deep in the bowels of the city, meanwhile, a creature know as the Star Beast has been imprisoned for twenty years.  Cliche follows cliche, only to be redeemed by the exciting purple prose common to the better pulps of the day.

       The only true clunker of the remaining seven stories is Spawn, a tale doomed by its ambitions, and whose plot confusedly resembles a summary of a much longer and much more-detailed story.  All in all, the collection rates a solid B, and is fairly good example of the science fiction of sixty-five to seventy-five years ago. 

     THE TITAN by P. Schuyler Miller (Fantasy Press, 1952)  contents:

     - The Titan (the first three-quarter originally published in Marvel Tales, 1934-5)
     - As Never Was (Astounding Science Fiction, January, 1944)
     - Old Man Mulligan (Astounding Science Fiction, December, 1940)
     - Spawn (Weird Tales, August, 1939)
     - In the Good Old Summer Time (Astounding Science Fiction, as In the Good
             Old Summertime, March, 1940)
     - Gleeps (Astounding Science Fiction, July, 1943)
     - The Arrhenius Horror (Amazing Science Fiction, September, 1931)
     - Forgotten (Wonder Stories, as The Forgotten Men of Space, April, 1933)

1 comment:

  1. My understanding is that "The Titan" and "Forgotten" are both set on Mars. Do you know if any of the other stories are set on Mars or involve Martians? Thanks.