The Rock Bred Evolution in Reverse!
fell dead on the spot.
"I wanted him for a prisoner!" growled Parr.
"What good would that do?" flung back Shanklin roughly. "The ship's what we wanted. It's gone. You bungled, Parr."
Parr was about to reply with the obvious charge that Shanklin's own hesitancy had done much to cause the failure, when Sadau spoke:
"This young lady--miss, are you an exile? Because," and he spoke in the same fashion that he had once employed to Parr, "then you're our new chief. The latest comer commands."
"Why--why--" stammered the girl.
"Wait a minute," interposed Parr again. "Let's take stock of ourselves. Haldocott and Jeffords killed--and a couple of others--"
Shanklin barked at him. "You don't give orders any more. We've got a new chief, and you're just one of the rabble, like me." He made a heavily gallant bow toward the latest arrival. "May I ask your name, lady?"
"I'm Varina Pemberton," she said. "But what's the meaning of all this?"
Shanklin and Sadau began
A pulp story, better written than average. Martians are not allowed to execute Earthmen, so capital criminals are stranded on an asteroid that has 1) a gravity generator, 2) trees, grass, and other Earth plants, 3) oxygen and water, and 4) a Moron Ray, which causes animals (men) to degenerate into lower forms of life the longer they are exposed.
The Martians are devilishly clever with technology, but seem to have trouble with the concept of posting guards at their ships.
The characterizations and descriptions aren't bad at all. Just accept the silliness and enjoy the story.
Utter pulp. Not worth the time.
Entertaining novella, a sort of 2001 A Space Odyssey in reverse: the apes don't become cleverer, but men turn into apes, as a punishment by Martians, no less. Written in 1941, there's even some satire about clipped-moustache heroes 'with murderous instincts'. The ending is a little pat, but it's never boring.