Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thursday Preview: In Caverns Below (Preview #1)

It's here! It's here! It's finally here! It's the first in our Thrilling Wonder Stories Vintage Series of novels which originally appeared in one or another of the 1929-55 Wonder magazines!

It's In Caverns Below! Originally published as a three-part serial in Wonder Stories in 1935, our edition uses the text as edited and rewritten by author Stanton A. Coblentz for the 1957 book, also known as Hidden World. This is its first appearance in book form since 1975.

Also in this edition, and appearing in a book for the first time, are the original 1935 illustrations by Frank R. Paul, the illustrations by Virgil Finlay for the 1950 reprint in Fantastic Story Quarterly, and extracts deleted or altered from the serial text.

Yes, but what's it about, you ask? Well, it's a Gulliver's Travels-type satire of our foibles writ large on a strange, subterranean society. Or, as the back cover text says:

Mining engineer Frank Comstock and his partner Philip Clay take a job checking out the integrity of a shut-down mine in Nevada. They get their answer when the mine caves in, plunging them far underground into a network of tunnels occupied by two warring races of unknown chalk-skinned humans!

Caught in a battle, Frank loses Phil, but finds himself in a world of trouble as he's captured, taken under the protection of a curious professor, and integrated into this strange society.

Frank finds Wu a bizarre place. Diplomats invent reasons to continue a pointless war just to protect the jobs and dividends of arms producers. Prosperity is measured by the amount of excess production they need to throw away. Workers and owners regularly clash, and neither side comes out ahead. Plus, there are differences from the land he's left behind!

In this week's preview, Frank's integration into Wu's working world begins with a customer service job in the Ventilation Company. Meanwhile, he still lives in the home of the above-mentioned curious professor, Tan Torm, and his daughters, including the lovelorn Loa. She tries to attract Frank, but her people's standards of beauty aren't helping... though they do lead to a "Finlay female" illustration with a new wrinkle.

(Click on the cover illustration to read the pdf file in your browser. To download it, left-click on the illustration and select "Download Linked File" if you have a two-button mouse, or control-click with a one-button mouse.)

You can buy In Caverns Below from,, and many other booksellers.

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