Authors: L. Ron Hubbard
SELECTED FICTION WORKS
BY L. RON HUBBARD
The Case of the Friendly Corpse
The Indigestible Triton
Slaves of Sleep & The Masters of Sleep
Typewriter in the Sky
The Ultimate Adventure
The Conquest of Space
The End Is Not Yet
The Kilkenny Cats
The Mission Earth Dekalogy*
Ole Doc Methuselah
To the Stars
The Hell Job series
Guns of Mark Jardine
Hot Lead Payoff
A full list of L. Ron Hubbard’s
novellas and short stories is provided at the back.
*Dekalogy—a group of ten volumes
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Cover artwork thumbnail on back of book and story illustration from
is © 1937 Argosy Communications, Inc. All
Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission from Argosy Communications, Inc. Story
cover art from
and horsemen illustration
Western Story Magazine
is © and ™ Condé Nast Publications
and is used with their permission. Cover artwork; Fantasy, Far-Flung Adventure and
Astounding Science Fiction
copyright © by Street & Smith Publications, Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Penny Publications, LLC.
ISBN 978-1-59212-602-6 ePub version
ISBN 978-1-59212-233-2 audiobook version
Library of Congress Control Number: 2007928446
Stories from Pulp Fiction’s Golden Age
a golden age.
The 1930s and 1940s were a vibrant, seminal time for a gigantic audience of eager
readers, probably the largest per capita audience of readers in American history.
The magazine racks were chock-full of publications with ragged trims, garish cover
art, cheap brown pulp paper, low cover prices—and the most excitement you could hold
in your hands.
“Pulp” magazines, named for their rough-cut, pulpwood paper, were a vehicle for more
amazing tales than
could have told in a million and one nights. Set apart from higher-class “slick” magazines,
printed on fancy glossy paper with quality artwork and superior production values,
the pulps were for the “rest of us,” adventure story after adventure story for people
who liked to
Pulp fiction authors were no-holds-barred entertainers—real storytellers. They were
more interested in a thrilling plot twist, a horrific villain or a white-knuckle adventure
than they were in lavish prose or convoluted metaphors.
The sheer volume of tales released during this wondrous golden age remains unmatched
in any other period of literary history—hundreds of thousands of published stories
in over nine hundred different magazines. Some titles lasted only an issue or two;
many magazines succumbed to paper shortages during World War II, while others endured
for decades yet. Pulp fiction remains as a treasure trove of stories you can read,
stories you can love, stories you can remember. The stories were driven by plot and
character, with grand heroes, terrible villains, beautiful damsels (often in distress),
diabolical plots, amazing places, breathless romances. The readers wanted to be taken
beyond the mundane, to live adventures far removed from their ordinary lives—and the
pulps rarely failed to deliver.
In that regard, pulp fiction stands in the tradition of all memorable literature.
For as history has shown, good stories are much more than fancy prose. William Shakespeare,
Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas—many of the greatest literary figures
wrote their fiction for the readers, not simply literary colleagues and academic admirers.
And writers for pulp magazines were no exception. These publications reached an audience
that dwarfed the circulations of today’s short story magazines. Issues of the pulps
were scooped up and read by over thirty million avid readers each month.
Because pulp fiction writers were often paid no more than a cent a word, they had
to become prolific or starve. They also had to write aggressively. As Richard Kyle,
publisher and editor of
the first and most long-lived of the pulps, so pointedly explained: “The pulp magazine
writers, the best of them, worked for markets that did not write for critics or attempt
to satisfy timid advertisers. Not having to answer to anyone other than their readers,
they wrote about human beings on the edges of the unknown, in those new lands the
future would explore. They wrote for what we would become, not for what we had already
Some of the more lasting names that graced the pulps include H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar
Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Max Brand, Louis L’Amour, Elmore Leonard, Dashiell
Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner, John D. MacDonald, Ray Bradbury,
Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein—and, of course, L. Ron Hubbard.
In a word, he was among the most prolific and popular writers of the era. He was also
the most enduring—hence this series—and certainly among the most legendary. It all
began only months after he first tried his hand at fiction, with L. Ron Hubbard tales
Detective Fiction Weekly,
He could write on any subject, in any genre, from jungle explorers to deep-sea divers,
and gangsters, cowboys and flying aces to mountain climbers, hard-boiled detectives
and spies. But he really began to shine when he turned his talent to science fiction
and fantasy of which he authored nearly fifty novels or novelettes to forever change
the shape of those genres.
Following in the tradition of such famed authors as Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Jack
London and Ernest Hemingway, Ron Hubbard actually lived adventures that his own characters
would have admired—as an ethnologist among primitive tribes, as prospector and engineer
in hostile climes, as a captain of vessels on four oceans. He even wrote a series
of articles for
called “Hell Job,” in which he lived and told of the most dangerous professions a
man could put his hand to.
Finally, and just for good measure, he was also an accomplished photographer, artist,
filmmaker, musician and educator. But he was first and foremost a
and that’s the L. Ron Hubbard we come to know through the pages of this volume.
This library of Stories from the Golden Age presents the best of L. Ron Hubbard’s
fiction from the heyday of storytelling, the Golden Age of the pulp magazines. In
these eighty volumes, readers are treated to a full banquet of 153 stories, a kaleidoscope
of tales representing every imaginable genre: science fiction, fantasy, western, mystery,
thriller, horror, even romance—action of all kinds and in all places.
Because the pulps themselves were printed on such inexpensive paper with high acid
content, issues were not meant to endure. As the years go by, the original issues
of every pulp from
continue crumbling into brittle, brown dust. This library preserves the L. Ron Hubbard
tales from that era, presented with a distinctive look that brings back the nostalgic
flavor of those times.
L. Ron Hubbard’s Stories from the Golden Age has something for every taste, every
reader. These tales will return you to a time when fiction was good clean entertainment
and the most fun a kid could have on a rainy afternoon or the best thing an adult
could enjoy after a long day at work.
Pick up a volume, and remember what reading is supposed to be all about. Remember
curling up with a
—Kevin J. Anderson
KEVIN J. ANDERSON
is the author of more than ninety critically acclaimed works of speculative fiction,
including The Saga of Seven Suns, the continuation of the Dune Chronicles with Brian
Herbert, and his
New York Times
bestselling novelization of L. Ron Hubbard’s
Orders Is Orders
Orders Is Orders
doomed city of Shunkien poured flame-torn billows of smoke skyward to hide the sun.
Mile after square mile spread the smoldering expanse of crumbling walls and corpse-littered
And still from the
area came the bombers of the
to further wreck the ruins. Compact squadrons scudding through the pall of greasy
smoke turned, dived, zoomed, leaving black mushrooms swiftly growing behind their
Along a high bluff to the north of town, a line of artillery
belched flame and thunder, and mustard-colored men ministered to their plunging guns.
Japan was pounding wreckage into ashes, wiping out a city which had thrived since
the time of
, obliterating a railhead to prevent further concentration of Chinese legions.
Down amid the erupting shambles, three regiments of Chinese troops held on, bellies
to dust behind barricades of paving stones, sandbags and barbed wire, shoulders wedged
of the cracking walls, intent brown eyes to antiaircraft sights in the uprooted railway
They fought because they could not retreat. Two hundred miles and two Japanese army
corps stood between them and the sea. Somewhere out in the once-fertile plains two
Chinese armies groped for the enemy. But the battle lines were everywhere, running
parallel to nothing, a huge labyrinth of war engines and marching legions. There was
no hope for Shunkien. Once proud signs protruded from the rubble which overlaid the
gutters. The thoroughfares were dotted with the unburied dead, men and women and children.
Thicker were these ragged bundles near the south gate where lines of refugees had
striven to leave the town, only to be blasted down at the very exit.
The cannonading was a deafening monotone. The smoke and dust drifted and entwined.
Walls wearily slid outward, slowly at first, then faster to crash with a roar, making
an echo to the thunder of artillery along the ridge.
War was here, with Famine on the right and Death upon the left and Pestilence riding
rear guard to make the sweep complete.
In the center of the city, close by a boulevard now gutted with shell holes and clogged
with wrecked trolleys and automobiles and inert bodies, stood the United States Consulate.
The gates were tightly closed and the walls were still intact and high above, on a
tall flagstaff, buffeted by the concussion of shells,
stood brightly out against the darkness of the smoke.
The building was small and the corridors were jammed with the hundred and sixteen
Americans who had taken refuge there. Without baggage, glad enough to be still alive,
they sat in groups and nursed their cigarettes and grinned and cracked jokes and made
bets on their chances of being missed by all the shells which came shrieking down
into the town.
It was hard to talk above the ceaseless roar, but they talked. Talked of Hoboken and
Sioux City and Denver and argued the superior merits of their towns. Though their
all was invested in and about Shunkien, though most of them had not been home for
furnished the whole of their conversation.
A baby was crying and its white-faced mother tried to sing above the cataract of sound
which beat against the walls outside. A machinery salesman tore his linen handkerchief
into small bits and stuffed fragments of it into the child’s ears. Thankfully, it
stopped whimpering and the mother smiled and the salesman, suddenly finding himself
caught, moved hurriedly away before he could be thanked.
Within the consular office, the consul, Thomas Jackson, moved to the side of his radio
operator. Jackson was white-haired, small, nervous of face and hands. He looked at
the expanse of gleaming dials as though trying to read hope in their metal faces.
The operator, a youth scarcely out of his teens, leaned over a
and rattled it. He threw a switch and pressed the earphones against his head. He
lighted a cigarette with nicotine-stained fingers and stuck it in his mouth. He pulled
a typewriter to him and began to write.
again, sir,” said the operator. “They want to know how we’re holding out.”
“Tell them we’re all right so far, and God knows we’ve been lucky.” Jackson leaned
close to the operator and then glanced around to see that no one else in the room
could hear. “Tell them for the love of God to get the
antitoxin to us if they expect to find any of us alive after this is over. Tell them
Asiatic cholera is certain to follow, has already begun. And then tell them that we’ve
got to have money—gold. Our checks and paper are no good and the food is running low.”
The young operator precariously perched his cigarette on the already burned edge of
his table and began to make the
click and quiver.
A few minutes later he beckoned to the consul. “They say the
is already proceeding down the coast with both the serum and the money.”
“Damned little good that will do us,” moaned Jackson. “A cruiser can’t come two hundred
“They said they’d try to get it through to us, sir. They want to know how long we
can hold out.”
Jackson ran bony fingers through his awry white hair and looked around him. He singled
out a fat little man whose eyes were so deep in his head they could not be seen at
“Doctor,” said Jackson, loud enough to be heard above the cannonade but not loud enough
for anyone else to overhear, “Doctor, how long do you think we can last without the
“With corpses strewn from
Hell to Halifax
?” puffed the doctor. “Now, tomorrow, next week, maybe never.”
“Please,” begged the consul, “you’re not staking your reputation on this. How long
will it take?”
“The reports are,” said the doctor, “that it is just now starting to spread. I’ll
give it five days to reach here because, in five days, we’ll have to start going out
to buy food—if we can find the gold with which to buy it. Otherwise, we stay here
bottled up, boil our water and starve to death. We all had cholera shots before we
came into this area, but they won’t prove effective unless bolstered with secondary,
epidemic shots. If we get that serum here before Saturday, there’s a chance of our
living—as far as disease is concerned—through this mess. But mind you, now, you can’t
quote me. Anything is liable to happen.”
“Thanks,” said Jackson gratefully.
The consul went back to the youth at the key. “Tell them it’s got to be here by Saturday,
Billy. Not a day later. Though how they’ll get it here, only God himself can tell.”
He looked out through the office door into the outside passageway where a hundred
and more Americans tried to take it calmly. The floor of the consulate was shaking
as though a procession of huge trucks rumbled deafeningly by.