3 thoughts on “Cargo Unknown

  1. CARGO UNKNOWN MAY BE THE BEST DOC SAVAGE ADVENTURE EVER!!! From opening line to last period this one moves at lightspeed. But what sets this one apart from all the docs I have read so far is its visceral quality and depth of feeling. If you want to know how Doc and the Fabulous Five feel about each other, then this is the novel for you. The writing is streamlined, insightful and revealing, showing just how far Doc and Renny will go to help Monk and Ham trapped in a sunken submarine with only 12 hours of air left. And how far they go WILL surprise you! I defy anyone to start this one and NOT finish it in a single sitting. It simply cannot be put down. It is one of the best examples of adventure fiction I have had the pleasure of reading. Regardless of era or genre, this is one hell of a good piece of writing. This one gets my highest recommendation. Cargo Unkown is the 64th Doc I’ve read so far and if the rest are only a tenth as good as this one, I’ll be a happy man. A MASTERPIECE!!

  2. I agree with Andrew. “Cargo Unknown” gripped me and kept me reading until the very end. I really felt engaged with Doc’s efforts to rescue his men. I also got a profound sense of his physical strength and endurance abilities. I was also under the impression that Lester Dent must have written it very quickly because of the way the narrative rushes to its conclusion. If you read enough of these things (and in order) you can get a sense of Dent’s moods and of his own endurances. Some stories inspired him; others didn’t. But every now and then he gets a scorcher. This is one. Highly recommended.

  3. I was less enchanted with this one than Paul and Andrew. The story is certainly fast-paced, but I felt it was weakened, or at least estranged from the greatest Doc Savage adventures, by Doc and Renny wearing their emotions too boldly and parading their hair-trigger tempers. I remember reading in Philip Jose Farmer’s DOC SAVAGE – AN APOCALYPTIC LIFE how, in the final Doc story (which I haven’t read), Doc sees something beneath the earth that makes him scream, and how this is a key, mystifying moment in the adventures of the Man of Bronze, who was theretofore fearless… but in this story, which Mr. Farmer must have overlooked, he openly registers fright and fear. Renny not only curses but comes within a hair’s breadth of killing a man, with Doc looking on. I suppose these elements surprise me because this is the first of the Doc adventures from the WW2 years I’ve read. Surely, Doc’s and Renny’s emotions were fully in keeping with the reality of the service men who were reading these stories at the time, whose comrades in battle may have faced similar ordeals and not survived. I’m not saying these emotions are inconsistent with the reality of war, but they do seem to me inconsistent with the fantasy world of Doc Savage, at least the earlier, classic stories I’ve read and loved, with their wholesome taste for action and adventure. There are also inconsistencies in the plotting, as when much ado about Doc’s command over law enforcement is followed by surprising inability to pool outside resources to organize a rescue mission to salvage the sunken sub. And Doc seems surprisingly human and short-handed when Renny finally makes it to New York. There are other weaknesses in the writing, as when a paragraph opens with Doc suddenly removing a hat he has never been described as wearing. In short, “Cargo Unknown” seemed less like a Doc Savage adventure to me than a pulp adventure story with Doc and Renny’s names laid over less extraordinary characters. Still, it was an energetic piece with some crackling prose and you can get through it in a few hours.

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