Three from L. Ron Hubbard, Galaxy Press, $9.95 each, reviewed by Barry Hunter.
KING OF THE GUNMAN, ISBN: 9781592124022 – Kit Gordon has the reputation of being the fastest gun alive and is nicknamed Suicide, Smoke or Sudden Death. He is currently on the run after being framed for a robbery and murder he did not commit when he saves Rainbow Jackson, a local lawman, from a group of outlaws. Jackson is in the middle of a showdown between the cattle ranchers and the sheep ranchers who have hired gunmen to back up their takeover of the territory. Gordon has to make the decision to move on or help the lawman and change his ways. Also included is “The No Gun Gunhawk”. Although I seldom read westerns, this is a look at another side of Hubbard’s I had overlooked. Don’t make the same mistake I did by waiting, it’s as exciting as his other genre writing and shows that he could write about anything.
THE SKY DEVIL, ISBN: 9781592124015 – Vic Kennedy has picked the wrong side of a rebellion to be on and the British, French and Greeks don’t want him. As he escapes over the Sahara, he is running low on fuel and all there is in sight is sand. As he gets down to his last five gallons of fuel, he spots what he thinks to be a mirage. It turns out to be an oasis with a beautiful princess betrothed to an enemy to prevent a war. Of course gets involved and almost causes a war to break out unless he can prove he is not a genie. Also included is “Buckley Plays a Hunch” and “Medals for Mahoney”. This is a mixed bag of tales while locals ranging from the desert, a deserted island and the darkest jungle. Hubbard showed his versatility in the three tales included here.
THE LIEUTENANT TAKES THE SKY, ISBN: 9781592123223 – Mike Malloy, an American aviator in the French Legion, is taken from his cell, after a fight with two officers and sentenced to prison, to find himself on a mission to carry a French diplomat and an American woman on an expedition to recover a rare book missing for 800 years. The region is in the control of Berbers who are fighting for freedom from France. Things don’t go exactly as planned and after the book is found, they are captured by the Berbers and Malloy must use his wits and background to survive and save the girl. This is another story showing Hubbard’s knowledge of the world and the current events of the time as he ties them into his work.
This are three of the October releases from Galaxy in the Golden Age Stories collection. For those who remember the pulps and those who want to experience them the first time, this is a fantastic place to start.