Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Legion of Time

More good old stuff from the glory days of pulp. The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson is two novellas in one and presented under the title shown here. I've read a bunch of Jack Williamson's stories over the years and haven't come across one yet that I didn't like.

Astounding  - May 1938 - cover by Schneeman
The story is pure pulp adventure, in which our hero, Dennis Lanning, is chosen as the man who can save the future utopia of Jonbar, or fail, letting Earth turn into a wasted land of tyranny and death under the dark realm of Gyronchi. To add to the dilemma is that each possible realm is home to stunning beauties; Lethonee of Jonbar, and Sorainya, queen of Gyronchi. Each appears in turn to Dennis, urging him to follow his fate. Evil queen Sorainya adds spice to her visits by luring him with lust and power as she poses half naked in red and black armor. The cover above illustrates one such visit, as she travels time on sort of a half-shell, beckoning Dennis to join her and rule with her as King of Gyonchi. Lethonee mostly appears as sort of a virgin princess of Utopia. She doesn't sound all that much fun, if you ask me, but she certainly gets Dennis Lanning all worked up. Sorainya is the real star of the show when it comes to temptation. Her beauty is so great that no man, it seems, can force himself to defeat her, given the opportunity. The thrust of the story is that Dennis and his team of "time travelers" must insure that a certain event that takes place in the Ozarks involving a boy, a magnet and a pebble. If it doesn't, then the future of Earth, not to mention Jonbar and the beautiful Lethonee is doomed to never exist. Yes, it sounds wild, and it is. There are giant antman warriors, torture dungeons, bloody battles, sex (pulp-style from the 1930s version thereof) and mindblowing tricks of time travel.

Williamson's stories from this period are vibrant, colorful, poetic and pure pulp storytelling. The science, such as it is, gets wonky, but I could care less. It's the tale that counts and Williamson was one of the best and instilling a sense of wonder and adventure that fans of pulp look for.

There is a second part to The Legion of Time that I have yet to read called After Worlds End. As soon as I do, I'll be posting about it here.

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