Friday, August 7, 2009

Pulp of the Week - Doc Savage #7

September, 1933 - The Lost Oasis

Zeppelins. I like Airships and this time around we get a Zeppelin. It takes a while to get to it, but this is an above average adventure and has much going for it. The story opens with all the newsboys yelling to everyone in New York that someone is offering a million dollars to meet Doc Savage. Needless to say, this gets the attention of Doc and the amazing five and soon enough Doc is embroiled in adventure.

There is a passage early on that discusses Doc's relations, or lack thereof, with the news hounds. They are writing outlandish accounts of his exploits and knowledge, but "... the laugh was on the reporters. This man of mystery, this strange giant of bronze was a personage every bit as remarkable as they depicted. The truth would have surprised nobody more than the reporters." Doc does not give interviews.

Gadget update: Doc uses a powder sprinkled on the ground that glows when it encounters movement. Doc uses it to track footprints across carpet and even wood. Long Tom provides infrared goggles and lamps, and a vital intruder detector.

The story involves villains taking Doc and Co. across the ocean to the Sahara, where they are put in chains. One of the evil tools of the villains are large black creatures, strange terrors held in baskets or cages until they are needed. The woman responsible for the reward offer, Lady Nelia Sealing, upon meeting Doc notes his "undeniably good looks" and falls under his spell. Lester Dent has a knack for creating strong female foils for Doc. She is tough under pressure, brave, and keeps a stiff upper lip when she sees there will be no romance with Doc Savage.

Some of my favorite bits are on the Zeppelin, fights where no one dares uses a gun because the airship is filled with hydrogen, Doc cutting his way through the aluminum-painted outer skin, and Doc and Co hiding out in the rigging. The prose is quite satisfying throughout.

Once again the evil forces are defeated and Doc and the fabulous five save the day. I give this yarn a solid 7 out of 10 - I know there are better supersagas to come - but this is a darn good read.

For this review I read my copy of the Bantam Paperback #6, 5th Printing July 1972.

The Bantam cover is by Doug Rosa. The Pulp cover is by Walter Baumhofer.

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