"The canals--" began Chap.
"That may be an optical illusion," said the science master. "Our own moon, seen at a distance of forty million miles, would appear to be intersected very much as Mars seems to be. The truth is, we can never get Mars to stand still long enough to get a definite photograph!"
"From Jupiter?" suggested Chap, now thoroughly interested.
Again Mr. Colson smiled.
"A semi-molten mass on which life could not possibly exist. Nor could it come from Saturn," he went on tantalizingly, "nor from Venus."
"Then where on earth do these signals come from?" blurted Chap, and this time Mr. Colson laughed outright.
As they sat at tea, Elsie glanced out admiringly upon the brilliant-hued garden that was visible through the big window, and then she saw something which filled her with astonishment. Two men had come into view round the end of a square-cut hedge. One was the man they had seen half-an-hour previously--the commonplace little fellow who had claimed to be
(1926) Sci-fi ( Parallel worlds ) / Intrigue / Short story
R: * * *
The story seemed much longer than 50 pages due to the gimcrack plot and shallow characterizations. People die in the story, but I have been more affected by the loss of a pawn in a chess game.
The ideas may have been fresh when they were written, but the moths have done a lot of damage in the meantime.
If you are familiar with the 1969 film, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, then you are already familiar with the plot of Planetoid 127.
Today's sensibilities may not appreciate the pace, characterization, and technological gewgaws that make up the story, but if you put yourself in the shoes of those who read it for the first time when science fiction was still a young discipline, it is a worthy read.
Young Tim Lensman visits his old science teacher, Prof. Colson, who's grown wealthy by speculating on the stock market in a way that suggests hidden sources of information. Tim overhears a puzzling radio message, and Colson shows him some peculiar equipment in a room labeled "Planetoid 127." Before he can explain further, a rival investor determined to find out Colson's secrets interferes, with devastating results.
This short novel has historical significance as one of the first "twin Earth" stories, but like a lot of pre-Golden Age science fiction, it presents only the germ of an interesting idea, wrapped in an unbelievable, turgid story line.
2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER
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