Golden Amazon #5: Daughter of the Amazon by John Russel Fern (2013, Wildside Press)
Originally published in 1951, Daughter of the Amazon is the fifth in the Wildside Press editions of John Russel Fern’s Golden Amazon series. Whatever else you can say about the man, Fern worked his golden butt off. I can’t even speculate how many books he published prior to his death in 1961. Remember, these were all done with a typewriter and a dictionary. No spell check or Internet to rapidly look for sources.
Daughter of the Amazon begins after the events in the previous book, The Amethyst City. In that particular adventure, we learned the Golden Amazon, known mundanely as Violet Ray Brand, had a daughter, Viona, created by the mental union of her husband Abna and herself. Separated from both her daughter and hubbie, the Amazon sits brooding away in her fortress of solitude on Planet Saturn. To make matters worse, her daughter has married the Amazon’s archenemy, renegade Atlantis scientist Sefner Quorne.
However, events are about to get worse.
The Amazon receives an emergency message from Earth: a black cloud of nothingness is creeping into the solar system, headed toward The Big Blue Marble itself. Years before astronomers would determine the universe was made of dark matter; John Russel Fern featured it in one of his books. Indeed, the man was a visionary.
Fortunate for the Amazon, a spaceship arrives while she is on Earth preparing to battle The Cloud of Unknowing. The new arrivals include her husband Abna, her daughter and, unfortunately, her daughter’s husband. They agree to join forces to find a way to stop the big black nada from reaching Earth.
At which point things really get weird.
Earth is invaded by a horde of small trolls called the Zanji who posess superhuman powers. They have decided to conquer our planet because they are aliens bent on total domination of the universe (always a standard operating procedure). The Amazon and her love slave husband find a way to put a stop to their plans for the moment, but the plot has already begun to hit the fifth gear. Viona, the Amazon’s daughter, has a special ability, which is lethal to the Zanji. Sefner Quorne teams up with the alien invaders to rule earth.
In the last episode, we were introduced to Tarnec Brodix, the brilliant super mathematician from Beyond space. He makes an appearance to help out the Amazon and her enthralled husband, but he does it in a most interesting method. The Amazon’s daughter has an infant son named Sefian. Brodix manifests himself into Viona’s toddler and soon the little dickens is running around grandma’s spaceship spouting complicated math formulas and devising ways to save the universe.
But wait, there’s more!
The Amazon ends up on one of the outer planets where intelligent bacteria have taken over. Here is how they are described:
“Bacteria flew swiftly over their heads—rods, bars and balls, equipped with deadly suckers and seeming to have no organized shape. Yet they did not pause to attack, a fact of which the Amazon presently came to take.”
What makes this series exception is how the author can bring up just about any concept at a given time. Need a life form on an outer planet that isn’t supposed to support life? Bacteria! Need a villain that can conquer Earth? Suddenly a race of super trolls descends from the sky. It makes me wonder if he had a special notebook of dark lords, villains and super scientists just for these stories. If he didn’t the author should’ve written one. Heck, a guide to creating space opera would’ve been an easy task for him.
Will Violet Ray Brand triumph over the rock trolls from outer space? Will she and her husband have some quality time together? And what about the dark lord Sefner Quorne?
The book is not without its attention to details:
“It must be exceptionally dense material,” Abna said. “This creature said an ounce on his world would weigh a ton. Quite possible, of course. Eddington, to mention only one of the Earth scientists, stated long ago that heat is not entirely necessary for compressibility of matter. Continued pressure on this being’s world, caused perhaps by internal atomic disintegration, would finally produce a mass of matter with its shell of satellite electrons stripped. In other words, the same amount of matter in an exceptionally small space. Beings on such a world would conform to the gravity, producing a creature like this.”
And there are moments of tenderness, as Abna pours his heart out to the Golden Mistress:
“A husband is entitled to do that to his wife, and it may be the last chance I’ll have. You may believe in this scientific partners business, but I don’t. You may be the most perfect woman the Universe has ever known; I may be the only man with godlike powers when I choose to use them. But I still prefer to think we’re human enough to be man and wife with a daughter somewhere on Uranus.”
There is at least one gripping scene that involves the people of Earth building hundreds of ray projectors to stop the invasion of the Zenji and save the planet. Buildings fall and hordes of spaceships fill the sky. It’s why space opera was invented. I’ve only finished the fifth book of this series and tall structures fall faster than those in a Godzilla movie. I keep expecting Rhodan the Flying Monster to make an appearance.
Daughter of the Amazon is a perfect example of how science fiction was bouncing around between pulp heroics in the early fifties as the day of the pulp magazine came to an end. Published as a Sunday supplement in the Toronto Star, this is very much the sort of story Planet Stories and Captain Future specialized. You can almost see the wire-guided Flash Gordon space ships fly over the miniature set. For this, I salute her Goldenness and wait for more adventures.