Long before Hollywood plagued the world with one sequel after another, the great pulp writers discovered the power of bringing back a character, even after he or she was killed at the end of the story. At the end of the first Golden Amazon novel, we saw Violet Ray Brandt dead, a victim of her own psychopathic intrigues. However, John Russell Fearn, the creator of the Golden Amazon, knew he had a hot property on his hands after the success of the first Golden Amazon reboot.
Here, I must stop and explain the original Golden Amazon was born of a series of pulp stories by British writer John Russell Fearn. This version was of a woman raised in the swamps of Venus to become a superwoman. Fenton recycled the character as the subject of a hero pulp, in the matter of Doc Savage and The Shadow. I list two series numbers after number seven since the recent editions of the Golden Amazon books had two different numbering sequences.
The book begins with another outstanding essay on Her Goldness by Philip Harbottle, the preeminent Golden Amazon expert. This man is the prime reason that the Golden One didn’t vanish into public domain chaos after the series concluded with the death of its author in 1960. He firmly places the reboot novel into the milieu of the end of WWII and how the reading public felt about the world after the mass destruction of that conflict.
The more I learn about John Russell Fearn, the more impressed I become. He wrote non-stop until his death. Although he’s not remembered much today, Fearn wrote in just about every genre. There’s a whole catalog of his writings undiscovered. Did you know he wrote the novelization of The Creature from the Black Lagoon? I didn’t. Something tells me he took his typewriter with him when the ambulance carried him away. All I can figure it is that he was the consummate writing machine. A man from the Orrie “How much do you want me to write and when does the check arrive?” Hitt school of authorship. Too bad he never lived long enough to see the paperback boom of the 1970’s; I’m certain he’d have written four different action hero series for that market.
At the beginning of The Return, we learn that Violet Ray Brandt’s adopted sister Beatrice is married and in charge of the family business. It’s in the future (1960) and the world’s recovered from the golden matriarch’s reign of terror:
Her scientific genius, her almost sexless cruelty, had given her a brief dominion of Britain, achieved by ruthless disregard for sentiment and powers denied to an ordinary individual. With her knowledge she had been able to transmute metals, had produced cold light, atomic force, and then … synthesis. This last discovery had sealed her fate. Determined to replace normal human beings with synthetic ones she had overstepped the boundary of normalcy.
Anger, blind fury at her defeat when at the height of her power, had burned out the astounding energy of her body and she had died in the very office from which she had controlled the destiny of an empire.
But sinister forces are at work. A consortium of the losers of WWII has united for the total domination of humanity. Led by an industrialist, they plan to steal the plans to a spaceship the Nazis planned to produce, the V-10 and use it to elevate themselves to be masters of the world. They’ve even kidnapped famous scientists to help them in their nefarious deeds.
Who can save us now?
Enter the Golden Amazon once more. It appears Violet Ray Brandt was not killed at the conclusion of the last book (big surprise there). A pilot discovers a vast hidden city in the wilds of Brazil where a city of superwomen is working to create their own civilization. Under the benevolent dictatorship of the Golden Amazon, they are called upon by all nations on Earth to rally to the cause of humanity and prevent the takeover by the forces of evil.
Does she prevail? Read the book and find out. Hint: there are more in the series.
When Philip Hardbottle brought the series back into print, he stared it with one of the later books in the series since he felt the science and technology exemplified in the early books left much to be desired.
I will say that you do get a bit tired of all the Gernsback Continuum engineering, but the novel never lacks for action:
“Well, quite recently I heard over the radio of the work of Professor Dodd on interplanetary rockets. It was the merest hint, but knowing the general villainy of men as I do, and knowing too that certain European factions were waiting for a chance to one day avenge their defeat in Europe, I saw that Professor Dodd was liable to get himself in trouble before very long. I dispatched two of my girls to the outer world, disguised, and had them report to me what was going on. Later I trained a television beam on Professor Dodd and Kasper Randfeldt. Later I’ll show you how this works …”
Besides, the Golden Amazon discovers how to make clones in this book, although she doesn’t use that term. She still has ice water in her blood and doesn’t hesitate to gun down a traitor when he’s discovered. This is not a woman you would ever want to displease. She still has her superhuman strength which is put to good use.
This is a very dialogue-heavy novel. I think it was a common way to write in the pulp era. Descriptive dialogue died out with the coming of color TV, but it used to be very popular. And you’ll not find any swear words in this book either. Again, a product of its time.
I’ll leave with a paragraph that introduces the Amazon on her return:
Then, with a speed that seemed incredible, she had suddenly leapt at him. Her hand caught his right arm, the one with which he had struck down Ruth Dodd. A wrench on it swung him round with such violence his head swam. He stumbled just as steel-hard knuckles smote him under the jaw. Half stunned, he dropped to his knees in the roadway. A subconscious act made him dive for the slender black-clad foot near to him. Instead it snatched up and hit him square in the face. Blinded with the force of the kick he fell groaning in the dust.
And she doesn’t even need a lasso of truth!