"Tall palms reached up into the sky like tentacles of death."

I knew long before I reached that line that any hope of finding sense in this book was gone.
I've been going through my Doc Savage collection, taking some notes on the unusual inventions. Not the stuff like his early development of television, or the autogyros and airship designs, or the ingenious burglar alarms. I'm interested in things like the mineral REPEL, or the barricade field out of the Spook of Grandpa Eben.
I wanted to get an idea of what unusual devices would be stored in the Fortress of Solitude, and a seventy year old design for two way television merely has curiosity value.
Then I made the mistake of reading The Land Of Fear.
Amung the more bizarre entrys are object compasses a la Skylark, using a new mineral from South America called 'Radiatite'. The villain wishes to steal the formula for crossbreeding rubber trees and cacti - a fantastic combination that Savage instantly names 'Rubberkak' .
The villain, of course is not helpless; he has examined a strange South African plant that can absorb moisture from the plants around it. Sort of a vegetative hydro-vampire. Using this knowledge, he constructs a funnel like device that can convert a human being to a skeleton in moments, merely by sucking all the water from his body. And without making physical contact. The water is stored in tubing wound around the villains body.
There is a house with insanely elaborate death-traps.
Chemistry the Ape is trained to tie knots and coil lines onboard a ship, so that he can work as a furry deckhand.
Savage falls victim to a trap that would serve only to hold a Road Runner: 4 inches of wet concrete with a thin layer of sand scattered on top to disguise it. As soon as Savage and his associates step on it, they are trapped helplessly.
...And to think that's all it would take!
Savage uses inflatable decoys to add verisimilitude to his ventriloquismic efforts.
He has powerful magnets and steel filings arranged to trap gangsters feet when they attempt to flee.
Et cetera, ad nauseum...
Now don't get me wrong. As any of my (non existent) readers can attest, I am a fan of Clark Savage Jr.
But I really think this one needs to be quietly swept under the carpet and forgotten.

1 comment:

  1. I recently read the Land of Fear, and couldn't help cracking up when I came to the word "rubberkak."