Wandl, the Invader by Ray Cummings
Wandl, the Invader – In this sequel to Brigands of the Moon, Gregg Haljan, Snap, Anita and Venza are back trying to save the Earth, Mars and Venus from being destroyed by the giant brains of the planet Wandl.
In this sequel to Brigands of the Moon, Gregg Haljan, Snap, Anita and Venza are back trying to save the Earth, Mars and Venus from being destroyed by the giant brains of the planet Wandl.
Wandl, the Invader – Beginning a Four-Part Novel (A Sequel to “Brigands of the Moon”)
Chapter I – Menace from the Stars
Chapter II – The Brain in the Box
Chapter III – Diabolical Mystery
Chapter IV – Death of the Brain
Chapter V – The Star-Streak
Chapter VI – The Screaming Light-Beam
Chapter VII – Three Swords Crossing in the Sky
Part Two of a Four-Part Novel – Heavy in Gregg Haljan’s heart lies the knowledge that his friends may be prisoners inside Wandl’s mighty space ship—the ship he must try to blast from space.
Chapter VIII – From Behind the Moon
Chapter IX – The Whirling Discs
Chapter X – Wreck of the Cometara
Chapter XI – The Struggle in Space
Chapter XII – The New Existence
Part Three of a Four-Part Novel – Stronger grows Wandl’s doomful grip on Earth, even as Gregg and his friends are caught in the invading planet’s weird night.
Chapter XIII – Wandl, the Weird
Chapter XIV – Like Flies in a Globe
Chapter XV – The Escape
Chapter XVI – The Flight Across Wandl
Chapter XVII – The Things in the Dark Forest
Chapter XVIII – Strange, Weird Combat
Part Four – In the shadow of the moon, Wandl’s space fleet meets the armada of the three allied worlds in final, titanic battle
Chapter XIX – In the Cave
Chapter XX – Wreck of the Gravity Station
Chapter XXI – The Fight on the Star-Streak
Chapter XXII – The Advance to Battle
Chapter XXIII – The Battle in the Shadow of the Moon
Chapter XXIV – A Little Pyre in the Sunlight
Wandl, the Invader is a classic early space opera novel. It was serialized in four parts in Astounding Stories in its February through May, 1932 issues.
Raymond King Cummings (1887–1957) was one of the “founding fathers” of pulp Science Fiction. In 1914, at the age of seventeen, Cummings worked for Thomas Edison as his personal assistant and technical writer. He worked with Edison until 1919. In 1919, Cummings wrote what is considered his most highly regarded story, “The Girl In The Golden Atom” which he lengthened and published as a novel in 1922.
Wandl, the Invader contains 10 illustrations.
Excerpt: Wandl, the Invader
Menace from the Stars
“IT’S a planet,” I said. “A little world.”
“How little?” Venza demanded.
“One-fifth the mass of the Moon. That’s what they’ve calculated now.”
“And how far is it away?” Anita asked. “I heard a newscaster say yesterday—”
“Newscasters!” Venza broke in scornfully. “Say, you can take what they tell you about any danger or trouble and cut it in half. And even then you’ll be on the gloomy side. See here, Gregg Haljan—”
“I’m not giving you newscasters’ blare,” I retorted. Venza’s extravagant vehemence was always refreshing. The Venus girl, as different from Anita as Venus is from the Earth, sat and glared at me. I added “Anita mentioned newscasters; I didn’t.”
Anita was in no mood for smiling. “Tell us, Gregg.” She sat upright and tense in the big metal-framed, upholstered chair with her knees drawn up under a dark red skirt and her chin cupped in her hands. “Tell us.”
“For a fact, they don’t know much about it yet,” I resumed. “A planet—you can call it that. A wanderer—”
“I should say it was a wanderer,” Venza exclaimed. “Coming from heaven knows where beyond the stars—swimming in here like a comet!”
“They calculated its distance yesterday at some sixty-five million miles from Earth,” I said. “It isn’t so far beyond the orbit of Mars, coming diagonally and heading very nearly for the Sun. But it’s not a comet. It’s not rational.”
THE thing was indeed inexplicable. For many weeks now astronomers had been studying it. This was early summer of the year 2070 A.D. We had all of us only recently returned from those extraordinary incidents which I have already recounted, when very nearly we lost the radium treasure of Johnny Grantline on the Moon; and very nearly lost our lives as well. My ship, the Planetara, which in the astronomical seasons when the Earth, Mars and Venus were within comfortable traveling distances of each other, carried mail and passengers from Great-New York to Ferrok-Shahn, of the Martian Union, and to Grebbar, of the Venus Free State—that ship was wrecked now, upon the Moon.
I had been an under navigating officer of the Planetara. Upon her, I had met Anita Prince, whose brother and only relative now was dead; and Anita and I were soon to marry.
I was waiting now in Great-New York upon the decision of the Line officials regarding another space-flyer. Perhaps I would have command of it, since Captain Carter of the Planetara had been killed. Certainly Anita and I hoped so.
And then, in April of 2070, this mysterious visitor from interstellar space appeared upon our astronomical horizon. A little thing at first—a mere unusual dot, a pinpoint on a photo-electric star-diagram which should not have been there. It occasioned no comment at first, save that the astronomers thought it might be another lost outpost beyond Pluto, belonging to our solar system.
Then presently they saw it was not that, for it was coming in with the great curve of an elongated ellipse. Coming at tremendous speed, it daily changed its aspect, gathering velocity until soon it was not a dot, but a streak on every diagram-plate.
In a week or so the thing passed from a mere technical astronomical curiosity to an item of public news. And now, early in June, when it had cut through the orbit of Jupiter and was approaching that of Mars, the people of all our three inhabited worlds were in a fever of curiosity. And fear was growing. The visitor was a menace. No astronomical body with a mass as great as a fifth of the Moon could come among us without causing trouble—or disaster, perhaps. The newscasters, with a ready skill for lucid possibilities, were blaring all sorts of horrible events impending.
YET for once the newscasters were short of a horrible actuality. This “wanderer,” as they called the oncoming little planet, was destined to plunge the Earth, Venus and Mars into a turmoil unprecedented in the recorded history of any of the three worlds. We could not guess it, but we were upon the brink of a new warfare. Interplanetary no longer; this was interstellar. From realms so remote that our mail-ships from Venus and Mars were like children’s toys flying over a grassy country lawn, this wanderer was coming with a new and almost inconceivably terrible menace. Well for us that the Martian Union, the Venus Free State and the U.S.W. were in an alliance of friendly amiability, with all our interplanetary differences adjusted! We had need of that alliance now, for standing alone any one of our worlds would have been destroyed. But this evening in early June, as Anita, Venza and I were seated in Anita’s home in the northern residential area of Great-New York beyond the terraced confines of the roaming metal city, we had no more than a premonition of these dire events.
I told the girls all I knew of the approaching wanderer. The density was similar to that of our Earth. The oncoming velocity and the calculated elements of its orbit now were such that within a few weeks more the new planet would round our Sun and presumably head outward again. It would pass within a few million miles of us, causing perhaps a disturbance to our own orbit, possibly even a change of the inclination of our axis; affecting our tides, our climate— bringing abnormality and disturbance in a thousand ways.
All this was understandable. But there were many things which were not.
“SO I’ve heard,” Venza interrupted me. “They say that, and then they stop. Why can’t a newscaster tell you what is so mysterious?”
“For a very good reason, Venza: because the government holds it back. You can’t throw people into a panic. This whole thing, up to to-day, has been withheld from the Earth and the Venus publics. The Martian Union tried to withhold it, but could not. Every heliogram between the worlds is censored.”
“And still,” said Venza sarcastically, “you don’t tell us what is so mysterious about this wanderer.”
“For one thing,” I said, “it changes its direction. No rational heavenly body does that. They calculated the elements of its orbit way back last April. They’ve done it twenty times since, and every time the projected orbit is different. Just a little at first, so that it could have been the mathematician’s error. But last week the accursed thing actually took a sudden turn, as though it were a spaceship!”
The girls stared at me. “What does that mean?” Anita asked finally.
I shrugged. “They’re beginning to make wild guesses—we won’t go into that.”
It was far from me to frighten these two girls. I had that feeling now, but within a few hours I was forced to abandon it!
“What else mysterious?” Venza demanded.
“The thing isn’t normally visible.”
Venza shifted her silk-sheathed legs. “Don’t talk in code!”
“Not normally visible,” I repeated. “A world one-fifth as large as the Moon could be seen plainly by our electrotelescopes when well beyond Pluto. ”
“It’s now between Jupiter and Mars. Invisible to the naked eye, of course, but still it’s not very far away—I’ve been out there myself. With instruments we ought to be able to see its surface; see whether it has land and water—inhabitants, perhaps. You should be able to distinguish an object on its surface as large as a city—but you can’t.”
“Why not?” asked Anita. “Because there are clouds? It has an atmosphere?”
“THEY don’t even know that,” I retorted. There is something abnormal about the lightwaves coming from it. Not exactly blurred, but a distortion, a fading. It’s obviously some aberration, some abnormality of the lightwaves, so that our telescopes can almost, but not quite distinguish the details. Even the spectroheliograph operates abnormally. Hydrogen photo-diagrams with stereoscopic lenses and wave-length selection should give a surface depth of vision.”
“Cannot you say it in Anglo-Saxon, Gregg?” Venza frowned.
“I mean, the thing should not look like a flat disc. You ought to be able to tell a mountain height from a valley. But you can’t. Nothing works normally. Everything is weird—”
Excerpt From: Ray Cummings. “Wandl, the Invader.”
More Science Fiction
More by Ray Cummings