Introduction On Racism Epigraphs A History of the Pulps A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Glossary and Character Taxonomy Breakdown by Country of Origin Bibliography Table of Contents The Best of the Encyclopedia
Captain Future. Captain Future was created by Edmond Hamilton (Rab Crane, Brian Cullan, Ethan Drew, Interstellar Patrol, Stuart Merrick, Jan Tor, Dr. Whitney) and appeared in twenty-seven stories in Captain Future and Startling Stories from 1940 to 1951, beginning with “Captain Future and the Space Emperor” (Captain Future #1, Winter 1939/1940).
Captain Future's adventures take place in the far-distant future of 1990. Roger Newton, his wife Elaine, and their best friend, the brilliant older scientist Simon Wright, have created a significant amount of advanced technology, but they are threatened by the schemes of Victor Kaslan, who lusts for power. So the Newtons and Wright leave Earth for the Moon, where they establish an advanced laboratory. In this lab, which is filled with technology beyond that of Earth, they create two artificial beings: Grag, a seven foot tall, superstrong robot, and Otho, an android who "looked only half human...its arms and legs had a rubbery, boneless look. Its artificially created flesh was not pink like human flesh, but pure, dead white. The white face had no eyebrows or eyelashes, and there was no hair whatever upon the well-shaped, pure white head." Unfortunately, Simon, “who had achieved fame in a half dozen different fields of science,” is dying from an incurable disease, and Roger is forced to remove his brain and put it in a plastic box; the box (otherwise called a "serum-case") has a speaker through which Brain in a Jar Simon can communicate and artificial eyes with which he can see. (Eventually he gets tractor beams attached to the box, enabling him to move around). Grag, Otho, and the Brain become known as the Futuremen.
Kaslan eventually catches up with the trio, and the Newtons are killed. This leaves their infant son Curtis an orphan, but Grag, Otho and the Brain decide to raise him. He grows up to be Captain Future, a strapping six-foot-four, red-haired scientific genius with "space-bronzed" skin and two powerful fists. His lab is located beneath the Tycho crater on the moon, and Otho, Grag and the Brain are his steadfast companions, although Otho and Grag continually bicker with each other. Captain Future flies around the galaxy in his spherical rocket ship and mobile lab The Comet, upholding the laws of the System Government and helping the Planet Police. One of their agents, Joan Randall, becomes a friend of the Futuremen and Captain Future's love interest.
Captain Future wears a blue "synthe-skin" zipper suit and uses, among other SCIENCE! weaponry, a "proton pistol" and "antigravity boots." His arch-enemy is the Magician of Mars, a Martian half-breed and the son of Victor Kaslan. The Magician of Mars is almost as brilliant as Captain Future and substantially challenges him before finally dying. Captain Future also travels in time, going back a hundred million years in one story and, in another, three billion years backwards, to save the natives of the planet Katain.
* I've included Captain Future in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because of its archetypal nature. There were a lot of space heroes in the pulps of the pre-WW2 era, but damn few were simultaneously famous enough to inspire imitators, of a generally good quality of story-telling, and contained sufficient imaginative devices and tropes. Captain Future combined a memorable set of heroes--making a Brain in the Jar to be a noble sidekick to the heroic protagonist is quite a good move, authorially speaking--enough imagination that Captain Future was undoubtedly on the cutting edge of heroic pulp science fiction--coming up with "The Magician of Mars" wins you a lot of points in my book--and consistent, semi-intricate world-building across the length of Captain Future's run (this, at a time when world-building in even the longest pulps was a mere afterthought). No one will ever mistake Captain Future for High Art, but as Low Art it was pretty good, and made itself into the archetype of science fiction hero pulps.
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