The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Hawk Carse

hawkcarseCarse, Hawk. Hawk Carse was created by “Anthony Gilmore,” the pseudonym of Harry Bates (Ken Torrance) and Desmond Hall (Ken Torrance), and appeared in five stories in Astounding Stories and Amazing Stories from 1931 to 1942, beginning with “Hawk Carse” (Astounding Stories, Nov., 1931). In the 22nd century Hawk Carse is the “greatest adventurer in space…he of the spitting ray gun and the phenomenal draw.” Years ago he was injured and given a scar which requires him to wear his hair in bangs over his forehead. Carse’s best friend Leithgow is a Wanted Man, and Carse is interested in clearing Leithgow’s good name. Carse’s arch-enemy, the Yellow Peril Ku Sui, a leader of space pirates, is active around the solar system, and even has use of a group of Brains in a Jar. But Carse has the Star Devil, the fastest ship in the system, and is a cold, hard man who thinks nothing of killing dozens of men. Carse is assisted by his large black companion “Friday.”

An exceedingly racist series, the Hawk Carse stories, but I’d be remiss in excluding them, as they were quite popular. As a rule the science fiction pulps were more racist than non-sf pulps–this, despite the sf pulps being popular in African-American neighborhoods–and Hawk Carse stands out as an exemplar of the racist science fictional pulp heroes of the pulp era. (Which is why anyone trying to sell you the line about the glories of pulp science fiction being the “good old days” is doing just that: trying to sell you a line. The science fiction pulps had some things going for them, but they were deeply racist, much more so than your average pulp, which was if anything less racist than mainstream popular culture of the time).

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