Early Stories by Edmond Hamilton
Four early stories from the fertile mind of the Father of World Destroying Space Opera.
Four early stories from the fertile mind of the Father of World Destroying Space Opera. These four stories and novelettes include Hamilton’s first published story, The Monster-God of Mamurth published in Weird Tales in 1926.
The Monster-God of Mamurth (1926) – Creeping horror, weird thrills, uncanny shivers, are in this eery tale of the Desert of Igidi
The Metal Giants (1926) – Huge metal monsters spread terror through the land — the tale of a Frankenstein that turned on its creator.
A nine chapter novelette.
The Atomic Conquerors (1927) – Up from an infra-universe hidden in a grain of sand poured a host of invaders bent on conquering the world.
An eight chapter novelette.
Across Space (1926) – A shaft of red light stabs the sky, and Mars hurtles in flaming destruction straight toward Earth.
A three-part fifteen chapter serial novel.
Edmond Moore Hamilton (1904–1977) was a child prodigy that entered college at the age of 14, though he left at 17.
Hamilton wrote prolifically for all of the pulp science fiction magazines during the late 20s and early 30s and is considered a co-creator of the “space opera” sub-genre of science fiction. His story “The Island of Unreason” won the first Jules Verne Prize (a precursor to the Hugo Awards) as the best Science Fiction story of the year in 1933.
Early Stories has 6 illustrations.
Excerpt: The Monster-God of Mamurth
IT WAS out of the desert night that he came to us, stumbling into our little circle of firelight and collapsing at once. Mitchell and I sprang to our feet with startled exclamations, for men who travel alone and on foot are a strange sight in the deserts of North Africa.
For the first few minutes that we worked over him, I thought he would die at once, but gradually we brought him back to consciousness. While Mitchell held a cup of water to his cracked lips, I looked him over and saw that he was too far gone to live much longer. His clothes were in rags, and his hands and knees literally flayed, from crawling over the sands, I judged.
So when he motioned feebly for more water, I gave it to him, knowing that in any case his time was short. Soon he could talk, in a dead, croaking voice.
“I’m alone,” he told us, in answer to our first question; “no more out there to look for. What are you two — traders? I thought so. No, I’m an archeologist. A digger-up of the past.” His voice broke for a moment. “It’s not always good to dig up dead secrets. There are some things the past should be allowed to hide.”
He caught the look that passed between Mitchell and me. “No, I’m not mad,” he said. “You will hear. I’ll tell you the whole thing. But listen to me, you two,” and in his earnestness he raised himself to a sitting position, “keep out of Igidi Desert. Remember that I told you that. I had a warning, too, but I disregarded it. And I went into hell — into hell. But there, I will tell you from the beginning.
“My name — that doesn’t matter now. I left Mogador more than a year ago, and came through the foothills of the Atlas ranges, striking out into the desert in hopes of finding some of the Carthaginian ruins the North African deserts are known to hold.
“I spent months in the search, traveling among the squalid Arab villages, now near an oasis and now far into the blank, untracked desert. And as I went farther into that savage country, I found more and more of the ruins I sought, crumbled remnants of temples and fortresses, relics, almost destroyed, of the age when Carthage meant empire and ruled all of North Africa from her walled city. And then, on the side of a massive block of stone, I found that which turned me toward Igidi.
“It was an inscription in the garbled Phenician of the traders of Carthage, short enough that I remembered it and can repeat it word for word. It read, literally, as follows:”
“ ‘Merchants, go not into the city of Mamurth, which lies beyond the mountain pass. For I, San-Drabat of Carthage, entering the city with four companions in the month of Eschmoun, to trade, on the third night of our stay came priests and seized my fellows, I escaping by hiding. My companions they sacrificed to the evil god of the city, who has dwelt there from the beginning of time, and for whom the wise men of Mamurth have built a great temple the like of which is not on earth elsewhere, where the people of Mamurth worship their god. I escaped from the city and set this warning here that others may not turn their steps to Mamurth and to death.’ “
“Perhaps you can imagine the effect that inscription had on me. It was the last trace of a city unknown to the memory of men, a last floating spar of a civilization sunken in the sea of time. That there could have been such a city at all seemed to me quite probable. What do we know of Carthage even, but a few names? No city, no civilization was ever so completely blotted off the earth as Carthage, when Roman Scipio ground its temples and palaces into the very dust, and plowed up the ground with salt, and the eagles of conquering Rome flew across a desert where a metropolis had been.
“It was on the outskirts of one of those wretched little Arab villages that I had found the block, and its inscription, and I tried to find someone in the village to accompany me, but none would do so. I could plainly see the mountain pass, a mere crack between towering blue cliffs. In reality it was miles and miles away, but the deceptive optical qualities of the desert light made it seem very near. My maps placed that mountain range all right, as a lower branch of the Atlas, and the expanse behind the mountains was marked as ‘Igidi Desert’, but that was all I got from them. All that I could reckon on as certain was that it was desert that lay on the other side of the pass, and I must carry enough supplies to meet it.
“But the Arabs knew more! Though I offered what must have been fabulous riches to those poor devils, not one would come with me when I let them know what place I was heading for. None had ever been there, they would not even ride far into the desert in that direction; but all had very definite ideas of the place beyond the mountains as a nest of devils, a haunt of evil Jinns.
“Knowing how firmly superstition is implanted in their kind, I tried no longer to persuade them, and started alone, with two scrawny camels carrying my water and supplies. So for three days I forged across the desert under a broiling sun, and on the morning of the fourth I reached the pass.
“IT WAS only a narrow crevice to begin with, and great boulders were strewn so thickly on its floor that it was a long, hard job getting through. And the cliffs on each side towered to such a height that the space between was a place of shadows and whispers and semi-darkness. It was late in the afternoon that I finally came through, and for a moment I stood motionless, for from that side of the pass the desert sloped down into a vast basin, and at the basin’s center, perhaps two miles from where I stood, gleamed the white ruins of Mamurth.
“I remember that I was very calm as I covered the two miles between myself and the ruins. I had taken the existence of the city as a fact, so much so that if the ruins had not been there I should have been vastly more surprized than at finding them.
“From the pass I had seen only a tangled mass of white fragments, but as I drew nearer, some of these began to take outline as crumbling blocks, and walls, and columns. The sand had drifted, too, and the ruins were completely buried in some sections, while nearly all were half covered.
“And then it was that I made a curious discovery. I had stopped to examine the material of the ruins, a smooth, veinless stone, much like an artificial marble or a superfine concrete. And while I looked about me, intent on this, I noticed that on almost every shaft and block, on broken cornice and column, was carved the same symbol — if it was a symbol. It was a rough picture of a queer, outlandish creature, much like an octopus, with a round, almost shapeless body, and several long tentacles or arms branching out from the body, not supple and boneless, like those of an octopus, but seemingly stiff and jointed, like a spider’s legs. In fact, the thing might have been intended to represent a spider, I thought, though some of the details were wrong. I speculated for a moment on the profusion of these creatures carved on the ruins all around me, then gave it up as an enigma that was unsolvable.
Excerpt From: Edmond Hamilton. “Early Stories.”
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