102b 01/43 The Time Terror

Chuck Welch
January 20, 2003 - 1943 / Bantam 097-108 / clark / larkin / nanovic / novel / pulp

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The monstrous winged lizard swooped out of the sky bringing terror and destruction. Was this horrible creature just a freak of nature? Or did it spell the end of humanity? Doc and his aides didn’t have time to wonder. They had to push forward — into a lost valley of prehistoric beasts and men!

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  1. Barry Ellis says:

    A fun read (as most Docs are!), but a distant third to the other two “Dinosaur Docs” (‘The Land of Terror’ & ‘The Other World’) which are two of the best Doc tales PERIOD!

  2. One of the best Docs ever. Man, what a complicated plot. I can’t believe Dent crammed so much into a 100 pages.

  3. Thomas Fortenberry says:

    Well, this is not the best Doc, or even the best dinosaur Doc (as Barry points out) but it does have those amazing Doc Savage moments that make even an average Doc soar above the competition. What is it about these adventures that is so superior to others like them? I think it is the careful dance of fact and fantasy, reality and imagination, and the perfect balance of pure advanced sciences and wild animalistic adventures that really sets these books apart.

    Even in this slow-starting adventure you run the gamut. It starts off innocently in New York City with the news condensers for Doc Savage being blocked from working one day. It was very, verey subtle, and yet Doc is able to barely piece together things until it begins spiralling out of control and he ends up chasing the mystery and its kidnappers of Pat into the deep northwoods of Canada. Then a pterodactyl attacks, airplanes are being shredded,local Indians are terrified and thinking legendary beasts are on the prowl, and Japanese soldiers (armed in Canada!) are fighting for their lives against this terrifying creature. Yes, that’s right, an average day at the office for Doc.

    Somehow the mystery unfolds into an adventure that travels into the deep arctic and a lost prehistoric world with dinosaurs and cavemen (Johnny is simply foaming at the mouth during this adventure, as giddy as a child collecting samples of flora and fauna, and then literally moaning and crying over not being able to carry and take back everything he sees), while the backstory of the entire thing is actually American spies in Japan trying to steal the secrets of their chemical weapons which they are beginning to test in China. (Proving yet again the research behind Doc tales was flawless, sense half the facts about the secret Japanese biochem warfare labs and activities in WWII were unknown until recently declassified) Furthermore, one of those spies, a master chemist Doc knows, had escaped into this primordial world and discovered an amazing formula that would actually stop or accelerate evolutionary processes. It all comes down to not just a fight for survival in this violent monsterous world, but a struggle between Doc, gangsters, Japanese, and cavemen for control of a secret that will change not just the course of history, but the makeup of humanity itself. And the Marvel comics X-Men dudes thought they had a lock on the whole mutant potentialities in human society thing.

    So in a typical Doc we have the most advanced sciences, philosophies, and politics of the world being fought over in the most ancient and primitive of settings. Its simply breathtaking what concepts can be squeezed into these little adventures. And that it is all fun, feasible, and largely factual, is just jaw-dropping. We read, we thrill, we learn.

    By the way (something I mentioned elsewhere in the newsgroup), there is an interesting “criminal” in here named Shorty that so outsmarts Doc and gang in the beginning that Doc is extremely worried and acknowledges him as very clever. The man was able to instantly figure out almost all of Doc’s secret day-to-day operations and then bring them to a halt, in just a few days. It is rather frightening to think about if the guy would have had time, resources, and the real intention to harm or destroy Doc and gang. He might have been one of his greatest rivals.

    Interesting mistake in book for Doc fans: Ham cannot speak or understand Japanese in this adventure. Yet later he is one of the chief actors in the Japanese wartime thriller Jui San. Ooops.

    Thomas Fortenberry

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