Though he was one of the more prolific science fiction writers during the 30’s, Harl Vincent is not as well known today as some of his contemporaries such as Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamson, and Murray Leinster. Perhaps this is because he stopped writing in the early 40’s and thus did not have a presence during the “Golden Age” of science fiction that occurred after World War II.
In many ways, Vincent was a typical writer of the era. His stories are full of monsters from outer space, mad scientists, evil from other dimensions, and his heroes must confront space pirates, death rays, and mad monarchs intent on ruling the earth, the solar system, or the universe. It’s also fair to say that his stories were longer on the descriptions of the incredible inventions and futuristic devices than on character development. As a working engineer, this is not surprising, and with some seventy stories published this was obviously what his readers (and his editors) wanted.
But there was also some depth to his stories that was missing from much of the fiction of the period. In a number of the works in this volume, his scientists meddle in forces that would be better left untouched, only to lead to disastrous consequences. He viewed technology and science as a two edged sword with both benefits and dangers. Particularly poignant is the “Wanderer of Infinity,” who like a “Flying Dutchman” from another dimension is doomed to wander forever trying to prevent cross dimensional disasters after his experiments cause the destruction of his own world and his family.
In his stories the Ramapo Mountains in up-state New York are filled with the secret lairs of mad scientists, who in their hubris, carry out dangerous experiments resulting in invasions from other dimensions, the importation of deadly lunar flora that nearly destroy the Earth, and other disasters. In others, the moons of Jupiter are the home to space pirates or worse and Mars maintains a hell-hole of a prison on the planet Vulcan within the orbit of Mercury.
Given the time that these stories were written, this is not surprising. Knowledge of the other bodies in our solar system was sketchy at best and many writers of the time pictured the various planets and satellites as being much more Earth like than we know them to be today. With technology, Vincent was a bit more realistic, if not accurate. He was a working engineer with Westinghouse and therefore familiar with the technology of the day. He describes various electrical and electronic devices drawing on his professional knowledge. Though he mentions Einstein’s theories in several of his stories, his physics is perhaps on shakier ground than his engineering. Still, he does no worse, and often much better than the writers of other stories that appeared in the same magazines.
Whatever his flaws and virtues, Harl Vincent was an important part of a period that saw the birth of modern science fiction. For this reason, Resurrected Press is pleased to offer this collection of some of Vincent’s best stories for the enjoyment of its readers. Order the book here!