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The Red Hell of Jupiter by Paul Ernst

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This is a guest post by Jerry Robinette.

How can you not love a story titled “The Red Hell of Jupiter?”

This juicy example of 1930s raygun-and-romance by Paul Ernst originally appeared in Astounding Stories in October of ’31. It’s novella length (a bit over 24,000 words) but worth the time if you enjoy pipe-cleaner aliens and ray-gun shootouts.

Rocketing through the solar system

Our protagonists, Captain Brand Bowen and Senior Lieutenant Dex Harlow of the Planetary Exploration Forces, are sent to investigate the disappearance of rocketeers exploring the Great Red Spot. Their mission leads them into a world of pumpkin-headed aliens and the obligatory race of enslaved humanoids whose beautiful women swoon at the sight of Earthmen.

Things get resolved with pleasing amounts of ray-gunplay and gravity shenanigans, along with a guest appearance by a Jovian dinosaur. The romance is minimal, even by the standards of the day.

In the style of its time

The writing has the flavor of its time, but not to the point of unreadability. If you’re comfortable reading about people walking on the surface of Jupiter you’ll probably be OK with sentences like “Their big dull eyes peered in through the glass panels, and their hands–mere round blobs of gristle in the palms of which were set single sucker disks–pattered against the metal hull of the shell.”

The story is available on Project Gutenburg in a variety of formats. If you’d prefer a nicely packaged hardcopy, this is the title story of a collection by Wildside Press which also contains five other tales.

(Jerry Robinette is an intermittently-aspiring writer and fan of all things pulp-ish.)