After a bloodied, near-dead stage-coach driver arrives in town and reports an incident to the local law, Deputy Johnny Burke arrives on the scene of a horrific mess. A stage coach is reposing upon its side in a gully, and a man is lying dead on the arid dirt ridge.
Searching the dead man’s pockets, he learns the man was a marshal and finds his badge. Pocketing the badge, he rises only to be given the universal “Hands Up!” demand from a gorgeous (aren’t they all?) young lady, wielding a gun. When he fails to comply, she rips the air with a shot and he soon strips the inexperienced gun-handler of her smoking hardware.
When he learns that she is the lone survivor of the inbound wagon, he is baffled. Why hold-up an inbound coach? Only the outbound wagons were carrying funds from the nearby gold mining operations.
But when a trio of riders approach from town, and he ascertains that they are a marshal and deputies, he advises the girl to hide. Why?
On arriving he instructs the marshal to go blow, and hoists the girl’s long-barrel to enforce his talk, as the trio are out of their jurisdiction. Why are they out there, after all, five miles from the line that they control? Pretty peculiar stuff….
After departing, the girl, whom had been able to view from her tiny peep hole under the carriage one of the trio, positively identifies the big burly bear of a deputy as one of the hold-up men. Gaping, he realizes he’s got to draw a warrant, arrest the bear, and likely go toe-to-toe with a corrupt marshal whom, with his cronies, mysteriously blew into town shortly after gold was discovered.
Burke’s own co-deputy arrives on the scene, and informs him that the local bank confessed that the stage coach was actually secretly bringing in $25,000 cash to dispense to a client. He sends the gal down with him into town. But, on arrival himself, he finds his deputy missing, and so, strikes out alone to arrest the burly-bear. On entering the saloon, the bartender acknowledges the trio are in the back room.
He struts in ready to slap cuffs on and finds the girl in the room laughing it up with the men! She knows the marshal, and from all appearances, is quite intimately acquainted.
What’s going down? Who is the girl really? What’s more, where’s the bank money? Arresting burly-bear, he also slaps cuffs on the gal when he is unable to get her to confess to her charges against the deputy. Covering his departure with revolver upon the two others, he locks the deputy in a cell and tries to coax a confession from her. She clams up.
Then the deputy walks in, caked with road dust and sweat, and proclaims that while bringing in the lady, the marshal and two deputies, whom had been given the “go blow,” they showed up and took his horse and she road it into town, leaving him to rot. Further, while in town, he learns that she is really a dance-hall owner and married to Marshal Kerrigan!!!
The heat is turned up when the deputy is knifed, the pair escape their cells, and Burke has to face the trio and girl, along with a mob of 50 men armed with hardware, ready to kill a lone star deputy. How will he defeat the mob, arrest the trio, and recover the stolen loot?
Burke is one gun against fifty. Those are impossible odds. What he needs is….50 HONEST MEN !!!
A sure-fire, hard-hitting western. Face Fifty Guns by Robert Moore Williams originally was published by MAMMOTH WESTERN (Jan 1948) and here, is reprinted by the Archer Press, in a late 1948 edition. This British edition sports a wonderful action scene likely rendered by Nat Long.
After finishing an interview with a prospective rancher to sign on as a business partner, Doc Olin begs 24-hours reprieve before deciding. He wants to go into town and ascertain if there is bad blood between the partner and the daughter, whom left home. But when he meets her, a trio of “bad” men burst into the shop’s back door with a bloodied stump of a man.
Doc Olin tends the wounded man while a gigantic behemoth of a beast paws over the girl, calling her his sweetie pie, etc. A jealous rage burns inside the doctor as he realizes that she left the home of a decent man because she was allied with a vicious, murderous, railroad-robbing gang of cut-throats.
After saving the man’s life, he departs, informs the town doctor of his work inside the shop and advises the town doc to find the sheriff. He leaves, and signs his partnership papers.
Time passes. The partners are in a bar, as are the gang, whom taunts the rancher about his daughter being his sweetheart. Having heard enough, he knocks the brute a hard one, and this shuts him up. But, when the rancher accidentally breaks an object purportedly of the girl’s affection toward him, he guns down the rancher.
The gang flees, but not before making a scene that suggests the partner was involved. With the original owner dead and the girl not at home, it appears that he stands to take the ranch for his own. However, the father left his half legally to his daughter.
Distrust is fanned into flames betwixt the pair, and Doc finds that he must play the part of gunslinger for the first time in his life! He must go forth, capture the real killer, and beat a confession out of him.
But, how can a mere doctor compete against a dauntless gang of killers? Will he meet his end, or, is it…TOO SOON TO DIE…
This is one of four simultaneously published 32-page booklets issued in England by the Archer Press in 1948, the cover was illustrated by James E. McConnell. This short novelette originally appeared in the MAMMOTH WESTERN pulp magazine, for December 1947, and was written by Don Wilcox (full name: Cleo Eldon Wilcox)….
A panic-stricken Ben Ames rides a rough trail into Carter County, in desperate search of a mythical town renown as a haven to outlaws looking to go straight. Wrongly accused of murder, Ben walks fearfully into the office of Sheriff Amos Rockwell, an oldster whom clearly, despite his age, can whip any gunslinger. Amos bids the outlaw to enter, sit, and spill his guts.
Ben does just that, slaps his circular on the desk, and describes his scenario. Sizing him up, the sheriff extracts a worn black book and shows Ben the contents. It is filled with pages of WANTED posters. Each page has annotations by the sheriff in the form of “when arrived,” “details of behavior,” and dates of death and why they died. For, Amos has one rule: walk the straight-and-narrow and if you don’t, he’s gonna shoot you dead. And he legally can hide behind the justification that you ARE, in fact, after all, a WANTED MAN !!!
Trusting in Ben’s wish to do go straight, he offers him a job, as a secret deputy. But then a young lady enters and is also deputized. Ben Ames wonders if Amos has lost his mind. In short minutes, he has done just that, as a Sharps rifle-blast rents the air and blows a hole through the sheriff.
Left in charge of keeping the county civil, he finds that the nearby mining town’s wagon train is robbed, within a day of the sheriff’s death. Realizing now the cause of his death, Ben Ames sets out to find the murderers and bring justice back to Carter County…in a fashion after the hard-hitting stylings of the ex-sheriff.
But when Ben is blackmailed by a cretin wielding the black book, who is also married to the deputized girl, Ben finds his back against the wall, for if he fails to adhere to the demands of this creep, he’ll call the United States Marshal to pick up: Ben Ames: Wanted…for Murder!
Ben is one man alone against a county of villains, or, is he? When ex-outlaws-turned-straight-honest men approach him in the sheriff’s office under the cover of darkness, he learns that these outlaws might be the secret strength needed to back his play to….well, you’ll just have to read the novelette yourself.
Honestly, this is an excellent western, screamingly scrunched into 33-pages using a font type smaller than what you are currently reading here on Facebook!!! Tightly packed and murder on the eyes (grab yourself a magnifying glass) you can count on Robert Moore Williams to supply a highly competent Western yarn in his usual first-rate story-tellin’ style!
Outlaw Guns was published by the Archer Press in 1948. It was originally printed in the USA pulp Mammoth Western (November 1947).
On returning home to Maikop Valley, 22-year old Tom Crenshaw is back to reclaim his murdered father’s homestead. Five years earlier, Tom, then 17, witnessed Max Hoffman’s riders bullet-riddle his home, murdering his father and burning the home to cinders. With the realization that the Hoffman raiders believed that he was home, too, he lit out for parts unknown, to save his own life. Now, five years later, he sports a six-gun and rides with two tough gun-slinging friends with women of their own, looking for lush lands to settle and cultivate.
Tom only needs to settle a few things: his family land, a blood feud, and claim the hand of Lucy Larkin.
But when he learns that Hoffman has married Lucy and told her that Tom died five years earlier, he’s not the only one looking for answers. Lucy Larkin, fearing for her husband’s life after Tom ghostily re-appears into her life, chambers a six-cylinder into her clothes, slaps leather, and rides out to finish off Tom for keeps, despite the apparent lies that Max Hoffman has told her….
Will Lucy Larkin slay Tom, her ex-romantic childhood flame?
Will Tom and the homesteaders be fanned with hot lead?
Is Max Hoffman truly innocent?
Or, is there something else more sinister afoot?
Guns for the Valley carried Robert Moore Williams’ alias “Russell Storm” on this publication, which was originally printed in MAMMOTH WESTERN (August 1947). This British edition, printed by the Archer Press, appeared circa 1948, is a 33-page pamphlet.
Book 61 in the Garden City Publishing pulp digest-paperback series is The Whaler by Ben Ames Williams (1924).
The cover art was rendered by Anton Otto Fischer. However, I’m not sure where the artwork originates. All the illustrated covers in this series predominantly were recycled pulp covers or slicks. Anyone have an idea?
The novel was originally serialized in four installments as Once Aboard the Whaler in the All-Story Weekly (1918: Sep 7, 14, 21, 28).
Toppy Huggit is described as “a raw-boned, gangling youth of twenty…six feet tall, and scarcely more than six inches wide…” Having his parents die while he was young, Toppy resided on his uncle’s farm and was largely taken advantage. After Uncle Seth’s oxen won the stone dragging contest, he gave Toppy ten dollars. This he accepted and immediately he departed Rockingham and, boarding the train, arrived in Boston.
Here, he runs smack into a murder on the streets. Checking upon the dying/dead man, a portly figure runs out and begins searching the corpse’s pockets. Papers missing, he realizes that Toppy, innocent and naive young man and Johnny-on-the-spot, must have taken what he desires. Toppy, fearing the fat man, escapes from his clutches, runs into the first sailor’s restaurant upon the wharf, and seeks the company of fellow humans. The portly figure strides in and sits down near him, and begins to pester Toppy for the papers again. The waiter approaches and learns that Toppy is new to the area, and warns him against partnering up with the fat man, known as “Porp.” The waiter drags the youth behind the counter, out the back door, and introduces him to a man simply called “Cap,” and coerces him into signing a document.
That document lands him aboard the Cap’s ship, the Hartdown, as an unwilling crew-member. Worst yet, his fears are accentuated, learning that Porp is a mate aboard ship! The whole scene, signing the paper, etc, was entrapment! Stuck aboard the whaler, the ship pulls out with Toppy, a farm boy with zero sea-life experience, forced to learn the ways of the whaling vessel, or else.
Toppy suffers a variety of indignities aboard ship but quickly becomes infatuated with the captain’s daughter, Celia Mudge. Naturally no story is truly complete without the love interest, right? Right.
Toppy begins to grow stronger, learns the ship and terms, and soon takes charge of a whaling expedition when the person in charge dies. Giving orders comes naturally to Toppy, and he finds that even the numerous villains will obey, to a length.
All good things come to an end…eventually. The matter of the corpse’s missing papers are continuously introduced by Porp, pestering and threatening Toppy’s life. Turns out it is a crudely constructed treasure map. Several members of the current crew were part of another ship and wrecked upon an island. There, they found another derelict ship, and gold. Realizing the ship lost at sea for years, they decide to head for land and find a ship capable to haul the gold. However, given that none trust each other, they all stick together, fast.
Having joined the Hartdown, some of the villainous crew mutiny against themselves, when the innocent captain’s daughter boards the vessel. They intended to murder the original crew, but a girl is a different matter. Or is it? Half of the crew okay with murder have other plans for Celia, both sexual and material gain….
The crew convince the captain to drop anchor off an isolated island for supplies. While ashore, they attack the original crew and a battle takes place. Toppy escapes with Celia in one of the landing party boats, and while trying to board the parent vessel, finds that two villains left behind are wielding sharp objects. Another of the “good crew” escapes land and paddles out. The pair decide to split and take the ship from two sides. Unbeknownst to them, Celia took one of the boats and paddled quickly around the back side, boarded, and while Toppy is about to be murdered, she takes care of his would-be assailant!
They take the ship.
But if you think the plot remains a clear-case of rescue the rest on the island, etc, you would be wrong. Ben Ames Williams is no slouch on writing a thriller.
In negotiating the safe return of the crew, the villains under the cover of darkness send their best swimmers out to the ship, and wait in the water until Toppy and another paddle to a distant shoreline to rescue the surviving crew and Celia’s dad. They discover too late the attempt, but, manage to derail the plot. Taking the ship again, they have full control, learn the whereabouts of the gold, and return with a British warship (of sorts).
Arresting the survivors on land, the villains throw a wrench in the story by informing the Brits that they discovered gold, and that the Hartdown intends to steal it. The Brits end up confiscating the gold, eliminating one traditional happy ending!
“The Oxbow Wizard,” a highly popular young adult frozen north wilderness adventure novella, was the 1st of 3 experimental forays by Garden City Publishing into the “A Book for Boys” series. These were part of the even larger never-properly-define broader series of soft cover digest-paperbacks (similar to dime novels in format) for which I have already earlier blogged. Numbered “60” on the spine for the overall series, the rear cover adverts up to 62 titles, overall, and sports an internal copyright notice of 1924, and 1920 for the original, via Open Road’s publishers, Torbell.
No records to my knowledge has ever indicated where the novella originally was published, however, I have located serial installments of the novella in Torbell’s The Open Road. This was a magazine designed to encourage young boys and men to get out-doors, rather than remain indoors and idle. The serial begins the in December 1919 issue, with the installment titled “Up the Oxbow.”
Additionally, parts of this serial MIGHT appear in The Trail Makers Boys’ Annual (Volume 1, 1920) but I have never obtained a copy for confirmation, nor have I been able to ascertain the full contents of said volume, which contains “stories and articles for Canadian boys” by Canadian men.
These three boys books lack the reproduced covers from SHORT STORIES magazines that made the series initially so enticing to collect. Unable to trace all of the Open Road mags, I can’t be certain whether this cover image originates with the magazine or hails from an entirely different source. Hopefully one of our blog readers may one day solve that mystery!
The story introduces young men to the coming-of-age young Dan Evans. While cleaning out a boarder’s room, he stumbles across an abandoned green bound volume, later revealed to be the collected adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Having read various tales, he begins to apply the logic into his real-life adventures and solves small home issues. His father, never kindly disposed to his son, thinks he is acting “smart” and dislikes his good intentions. However, when a young lady mysteriously vanishes, he applies his newly aroused detective skills and inadvertently bumps into his “odd” uncle, whom is more than he seems. Realizing the young man is smarter than he looks, the uncle demands he continue on to his cabin, where he will meet him later. However, on arriving at the cabin, young Dan Evans discovers the place is occupied by the missing lady, being harassed by a hooligan. Evans takes out the interloper, and it is learned that she married and eloped with the uncle, secretly because the uncle is very shy.
Some time later, as a reward for his skill and assistance, his uncle, removed far and away from the wild and seated at a desk in the city, offers Dan the opportunity to take over his cabin and partner up with an older man, and trap the wild animals for their fur, etc. Dan gives up his lumbering job for the hardworking winter job of trapping.
Mysteries abound when the cabin is found broken into, supposedly by a bear, per his partner. However, Dan sees signs that a bear would not have caused. Time passes and Dan comes upon a woman whom imposes upon his good will to help her feed her starving babies. Her husband is at home, laid up. Dan discovers the man is actually heavily intoxicated, and notices bear claws under the bunk and, an extremely large bear fur on the ground, the dimensions for which match the assumed size of the mythical bear that broke into their cabin!
Realizing the drunk broke into his cabin (despite the girl claiming it was herself, with the good intention of salvaging food for her children) Dan decides to work in the family’s favor to keep them fed.
But when his traps are worked over, he realizes the drunkard is stealing his furs. Proof surfaces when the man, terribly drunk, is found by the partner. Unable to drag him to safety, he remains outside in the frozen wastes. Dan, upon returning to the cabin, discovers his partner missing, and quickly hunts him down. Finally realizing the man’s whereabouts, he is introduced to the drunkard, and they learn that he sold the fur(s) and bought mostly illegal liquor, rather than stocking up with food for his family.
When more of his traps are found disturbed, Dan is irked. Determined to best the drunkard, he utilizes his skills to bait the shiftless cretin, and tracks down the person peddling the illegal booze. With the aid of a policeman, the whole incident is nearly neatly handled.
Not the best story I’ve ever read by Theodore Goodridge Roberts. His other three entries, previously blogged about, better stood the test of literary time than this young adult farce. Overall, of the four titles via this publisher, “The Lure of Piper’s Glen” is undoubtedly the most entertaining.
The first edition of TIME TRAP by Rog Phillips was originally published 1949 in America and featured cover art by Malcolm Smith.
A year later, the book was reprinted in Canada by Export Publishing via their News Stand Library Pocket Edition series, with a bland cover.
Seven years later (after the original) Malcolm Smith’s illustration resurfaced on the Australian edition (featured here). Unlike the American edition, the Aussie version is quite scarce.
It is part of the Science Fiction Library, via Atlas Publications. The series ran only eight titles from 1955-1956, and reprinted from American or British sources. Rather than paperbacks, these are side-stapled digests.
The titles (and original sources) in the series are as follows:
1 – The Echoing Worlds by Jonathan Burke, 1955
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1953)
2 – World at Bay by E. C. Tubb, 1955
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1954)
3 – From What Far Star? by Bryan Berry, 1955
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1953)
4 – Worlds in Balance by F. L. Wallace, 1955
Original publication (USA: Science-Fiction Plus, May 1953 – pulp magazine)
5 – Another Space, Another Time by H. J. Campbell, 1956
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1953)
6 – The Stars Are Ours by H. K. Bulmer, 1956
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1953)
7 – And the Stars Remain by Bryan Berry, 1956
Original publication (UK: Panther Books, 1952)
8 – Time Trap by Rog Phillips, 1956
Original publication (USA: Century Book # 116, 1949)
Without further rambling, let’s turn to the story itself, shall we…?
The tale opens with two radio-engineers working on a scientific device that permits them to “dial” into the future. Our primary protagonist is Ray Bradley, and his partner and close friend is Joe Ashford. Ray dials a phone operator whom immediately recognizes him as someone that had once prior called. Ray then, as now, with Joe as witness, asks the operator what today’s date is. She proclaims the date to be 1961, but asks first if he is the same person that called two years ago (in 1959). Ray and Joe’s current date is 1950.
Intrigued by the device’s possibilities, Joe suggests Ray phone their own number, and sets it to dial 24-hours into the future. Oddly enough, they learn that the number has been disconnected!
Disconcerted, he sets the dial for approximately 50 years into the future, and instead of the sensually young female operator, receives a male voice. Ray asks him what the date is, to which he receives 1999, and then coyly adds the “time.” But, when the operator flips the question back on Ray, chuckling, he provides the precise date and time as well. At that exact moment, in his head, he hears a female voice screaming for him to vacate the premises immediately, that his life is in imminent danger.
Without a seconds’ forethought, he orders Joe out and they flee. Moments later, the entire building explodes and debris smites cars and pedestrians, causing immediate havoc and destruction.
Ray and Joe abandon the scene, hop into a street dive, play music on the nickelodeon, and discuss the matter. More importantly, Ray stresses a female in his head issued the strident warning. Joe is impressed by Ray’s attitude, regarding the faceless entity, and realizes that Ray, without ever meeting or seeing this girl, is somehow in love with a voice that he received via telepathy.
Later, at home, while trying to sleep, he again is in contact with the girl, whom gives her name to be Nelva. She asks him to explain his device to her, and, with her assistance, she explains how to expand upon his rudimentary knowledge and create an actual time machine. Informing him to act quick and maintain anonymity, he and Joe vanish and after some experiments, travel to 1999. Unfortunately, they arrive days later than planned, but that is unavoidable.
While walking the streets, they find that not much has changed, and, clothing styles of the 1950s are apparently once more fashionable, to the point that they practically blend in. They later learn that while the styles are identical, the clothing materials are vastly outdated. While entering a store, they are immediately entranced by a sinister, beautiful blonde vixen depicted on the wall with a third eye. Staring at it leads to their undoing. Everyone else knows better than to stare and they are immediately spotted as either outsiders or rebels. Fleeing from the store, Ray and Joe find themselves briefly and frighteningly alone, but this soon changes as the police force their way in. Remarkably, they are whisked away into a secret panel behind the telephone booth (good thing these still existed in 1999, eh?) and run down a secret passageway.
Winding their way with this unknown helper, they are led eventually to a hideout and interrogated. Nobody believes that they are time-travelers, so they are forced to swallow truth-serum pills. While under, they confess the same, again, and those about them believe. They are further staggered to learn that Ray is searching for Nelva, whom they claim has been missing for a long time. Believed to be captured by the Vargarians (the aliens in charge of the United States), Ray is all set to explore the city and set her free.
However, he begins to develop ideas that the resistance is a false-front, and that they are actually in cahoots with the Vargarians. (And because the author lacks any ability to surprise the reader, Ray is naturally quite right.) Furthermore, daily, he fails to find or get in contact with Nelva. On his own initiative, he convinces the gathering to loan him a car so that he and Joe can explore the countryside, claiming that Nelva had in fact telepathically got into communication with him, and said to meet with Joe, alone, far away.
The faux-rebels report this to the Vargarians, and they suspect it is a false lead, but decide to let matters play out, and wonder just what the pair are up to.
While driving aimlessly, Ray decides to pull into a road-stop and grab a bite. Joe is the driver, and while parking, another car rolls up and disgorges a half-dozen youths. Stumbling in after them, Ray purposefully staggers against Joe and steals the car keys. Believing the car to be “bugged,” Ray decides to prey upon the kids somehow and unload the car, to lead the bad guys on a false trail.
Ironically, the youths are the faux-rebels, too. Set to track the pair, they decide to snatch the car from Ray and Joe, but the plan goes off without a hitch, admirably, for both parties. When one of the party approaches Ray, he stammers that he’s bored with the group and wants to borrow his wheels for a joy ride with his girlfriend. Ray obliges and the swap is effected! Ray is elated and the guy is nonplussed by the ease of the transaction.
Pretending to look about at the other dining occupants, Ray decides to falsely feign interest in two girls dining in a booth, but, despite never having seen them before, realizes immediately one staring at him is Nelva!
Sitting down with them, Ray expresses gruffly that they need to leave, they are in immediate danger. Nelva’s firmly aware of this, touches them, and the four vanish just as the faux-rebels jump up and turn their stun-rods on the quartet.
The novel then shifts to Nelva and Ray discoursing on the theories of time travel, multi-dimensional shifts, and the history of the Vargarian race being actually from another time stream from millions of years in the past. Furthermore, she and her friend, Nancy, are sisters, and related to the Queen.
But, asks Ray, why do they lack the third eye?
Sorry, my readers, but, I won’t cough up ALL the details. Go out and read the book yourself. Some mysteries you’ll have to discover the answers to you, yourself. I will say that the girls eventually slide into other parallel streams and Ray and Joe are subjugated to two surgeons whom attach wires in their skulls to allow them full access to all realms. The story rapidly comes to an absurd climax with Ray threatening the Queen with removal of all Vargarian’s third eye, unless they remove themselves back into their own time stream.
Fearing his threat, since he made a fine example of one Vargarian, the Vargarians flee en mass and, taking flight, the armada of ships vanish from the site, traveling back in time to their own era and time-stream. Some whom have chosen to remain, even with the loss of the third eye, do choose to do so, as do Nelva and Nancy. Nelva suggests that the four travel and explore the entire time and space, but Ray suggests they marry, first….
A fun novel, from start to finish, bogged only down by the technical jargon involving the explanations of various time theorems, time travel, dimensions, etc. Plus, and this may be just my personal perspective, but, I was baffled by how “juvenile” the entire novel felt. In fact, not just juvenile, but, “dated.” If I had never known it was printed in 1949, I’d have guessed it was written during the 1910s or 1920s. The novel honestly feels like a much earlier, unpublished pulp project that languished for several decades until Rog had more firmly established himself as a competent writer.
I would love to hear from other members of fandom or collectors, as to their thoughts on Rog Phillips’ “Time Trap.”