Wandrei, Donald - Colossus
“… The average air temperature was rising.
Smog and pollution had created a thermal blanket around the globe. As the climate warmed, the forest line retreated farther and farther northwards throughout Canada and Siberia, where new brushlands developed, then forests, and birds and animals never before observed in those regions. The icecap of Greenland shrank more every year. Entire ledges and shelves broke off the crumbling fringes of the Antarctic.
Perceptibly and inexorably, the ocean level rose, initially by mere fractions of an inch, but eventually by inches per year. And the pace of this ecological disaster became accelerated by several related events …”
from “Requiem For Mankind” © 1971
A hefty collection of over twenty stories from the visionary Wandrei.
Most are 1930’s science fiction, pulp style, emphasizing pseudo science, where an enthusiastic Dr. Hans Zarkov would feel at home.
A few stories are overweighted with gobbledygook and techno-babble. Descriptions of lab equipment, voltages, metallurgy, stretched hypotheses regarding unexpected results.
Better stories, such as “A Race Through Time” and “Farewell To Earth” deal with time on an epic scale. Wandrei works in blocks of 100,000 years or more.
Two of this best known works, “Colossus” and “Colossus Eternal,” embrace epochs of time and distance. Masters here are towering beings, the Titans, who have the ability to foresee the future – for good, for ill.
“The Blinding Shadows,” “Life Current,” and “Earth Minus” are cautionary tales. Miscalculations that lead to cataclysm.
These are not Tom Swift yarns, crafted to stimulate and thrill young boys. There is a dark streak in Wandrei, perhaps caused by the Depression, the approach of World War II, or the filthy aftermath.
Colossus remains Fedogan & Bremer’s flagship title, and they have done Wandrei proud.
There are illustrations. Richard Tierney provides an excellent introduction, sketching Wandrei’s life, elaborating on the stories, with observations of the publishing business.
The back of the book contains photos, a glimpse of the author’s young days and his later years.
Worth a place in your shelves if you have a fondness for pulp, or if you are curious about what the future used to be.