Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thursday Preview: In Caverns Below (Preview #3)

(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.)

Presenting the third and final preview of In Caverns Below, that subterranean Swiftian satire. Originally run as a serial in Wonder Stories in 1935, and revised for book publication in 1957, it returns to print in our new Vintage Series of novels for the first time in 35 years.

When last* we met Frank Comstock, the mining engineer who accidentally plunged into the underground land of Wu, he had decided that, when it comes to the romantic advances of Loa, the daughter of his host in Wu, discretion is the better part of amour.

This week's preview picks up the story a couple of chapters later, with Frank happening upon a celebration of Wu's latest victory in its neverending war against rival Zu (a war, you'll remember from last week's preview, that Wu keeps going for the benefit of investors in the armaments industry).

The main body of the procession was now passing—and a gallant sight it was! There were several other generals, who, like Commander-in-Chief Bing, were dressed either in crimson, or in crimson striped with black; there were hundreds of banners of green and vermilion, and several yellow-and-purple banners, said to have been captured during the strategic retreat from Nullnull. There were scores of large scoots laden with blackened uniforms taken from the enemy. There were several dozen war heroes, who had received the Dictatorial Badge of Honor, and were so covered with decorations that it was impossible to see their faces. There were innumerable placards proclaiming the vastness of the recent victories, which, it seemed, were without precedent “in the history of civilized massacre.” And there were, finally, thousands of common soldiers, who walked twenty abreast, with the peculiar high-swinging foot motion of the native infantry.

The illustration in this week's preview is by Frank R. Paul. Our edition of In Caverns Below features illustrations by two of science fiction's great artists: Paul's from the original 1935 serial, and Virgil Finlay's from the 1950 omnibus reprint in Fantastic Story Quarterly.

You can buy In Caverns Below from,, and many other online booksellers. Or order it from your favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore, using its ISBN-13 code of 978-0-9796718-9-0.

Next week: A Venusian odyssey** begins as we unveil the second volume in our Thrilling Wonder Stories Origins Series.

*- Chronologically, that is. It was actually the first preview. Maybe I should have given this some advance thought.

**- We say that because "A Venerean odyssey" gets giggles.

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