The Red Terrors — they came out of the depths to seize an unsuspected ship and transport its precious human cargo to their watery domain. There, in a lost sunken world under the sea, they lived securely. Until they sank the wrong ship … and the Man of Bronze came to call.
7 thoughts on “The Red Terrors”
I have read disparaging remarks about this story from both fans and so-called Doc “authorities”. Personally, I think it’s a great read that fits in quite well with the other “Lost World” Doc Savage stories. No, it’s NOT ‘Land Of Always-Night’ but it’s still a lot of fun!
I love the opening line of this book and again while it doens’t end up on most fans’ list of favorites it is certainly on mine. Some wonderfully eerie moments early on and the weird blue realm under the sea was great.
I really like this book. A good mystery, plenty of action, and the description of the underwater world really creates an oppressive, disorienting feel of being in a totally alien environment. And having to rely on oxygen tablets provided by their captors only added more suspense to their precarious position. Really didn’t know if Doc was going to make for a while.
“The Red Terrors” belongs in my top ten as one of Doc’s greatest adventures. This novel brings the man of bronze and his assistants into one of their more wonderfully fantastic adventures, and the characters of all the regulars are displayed to best effect.
The Red Terrors is a suprisingly good adventure. It has one of the eeriest build-ups of any of the tales in a disturbing, almost gothic way. It pulls off an amazing amount of things at the same time, which is why you know Dent wrote it. We cover the globe and touch on things from ancient history to leading edge supersciences. There is a whole lot crammed into this revamped “Atlantis” tale, so I will only skim the surface. But it is worth some deep introspection.
To begin with, this story is an indirect or independent sequel to The Mystery Under the Sea. That is, it has nothing to do with that storyline, characters, location or even plot, but it is mentioned obliquely in the text because they speculate this secret undersea race and kingdom are descended from the same ancient civilization as the one in the other noverl (Bantam Red Terrors p 96). That’s the first time I’ve ever run across this scenario in a Doc book, where they encounter related lost ancient civilizations in two unrelated tales in two seperate locations.
Also we get some very unique looks “behind the curtain” into Doc’s world. Dent has always been good about peppering the stories with little anecdotes about the life of a supergenius, and he doesn’t fail us here. In the beginning we are told the press is clamoring for an interview because Doc Savage has cured cancer. But Long Tom tells them to all go away and quit blowing the story up, because Doc considers it a failure. Doc had 24 straight succeses but then one failure and the last patient died. Therefore he has cured nothing. The reporters are stumped and one says, “It looks like a pretty dang good average to me.” His whole response is that they have issued a generic statement for the world not to get its hopes up and then yells about how “we’re getting tired about all these wild newspaper stories about Doc…” and throws them out. Ahhh, Doc is always hardest on himself and nothing but perfection is good enough. Imagine a 24-1 chance for complete cure for cancer being available. Any company in the world would market that as THE cure! Because of the clamor the aids are afraid he will leave for his fortress of solitude and we’re told they always worry when he does because no one in the world can contact or find him. To their relief, to escape the pressures, Doc dons a disguise and goes on vacation to the Maryland seashore to conduct biological research on starfish and oysters (in order to improve the oyster industry). One funny moment, when he leaves he gives the slip to a horde of reporters who then race back to the HQ to ask, they are told “Doc Savage has left the city.” All I could think of was Elvis. On his “vacation” Doc is trying to develop a bio weapon to protect oysters from starfish predation. Doc enjoys himself so much on this trip that it extends into nine weeks before danger comes calling.
The aids are said by a girl to be a “collection of freaks.” On the Monk front, we are told he is so lusty that Doc doesn’t trust him to watch females. This is diametrically opposed to Mystery Under the Sea when Monk repeatedly asks for and is granted the right to watch beautiful Diamond Eve. When a character/suspect is mentioned to have a sister, Monk blurts, “Is she good lookin’?” Also, it is said that “next to quarreling with Ham and making love to a pretty girl, Monk liked a good fight best.” That about sums up Monk. Ham claims that Chemistry is the direct descendent of ancient Mayan royalty’s hosue pets, which is the first time I have heard that claim. I thought his origin was always more vaguely “South American” but this would make much more sense. Renny utters the strangest usage ever of his tradmark slogan in this story: “What in the name of holy cows is this all about?” Finally, Johnny is absolutely brutalized in this story. On p 41 he is beaten by a gang of men so severely that an arm and both legs are broken. It takes Doc operating on him for over two hours in a hospital (with the glass-cased surgical stadium full of doctors watching in awe) to save his life and he is left behind in this adventure to spend the rest of it recovering in a wheelchair. His exit is him howling in his chair waving his good arm with a doubled fist in the air demanding to go along. You feel sad for Johnny, but as Doc grimly puts it, he is, “Lucky to be alive.”
Finally, one of the oddest things in the book, is the extensive use of crime college graduates. They are everywhere in the book, start to finish, and form a vast worldwide network of detectives and informants for Doc. He has these agents in virtually every country (specifically in South Africa several times inthis adventure) and is able to conduct very rapid worldwide seraches for people or things and monitor ships and travels across the globe. Also it is said he has an armored super yacht (and in one scene on p 57 he zooms alongside the Queen Mary and all the passengers line the decks to watch him race past) also crewed by graduates. It was a little creepy when you begin to think about the vast number of “graduates” this takes and why they all only work for Doc. This gets into mental slavery issues or other ethical concerns and is something of a red-flag for his famed memory-wiping brain operation. Nevertheless, you know exactly how the villians ended up: new recruits for his agency, I presume. Hey, at least he is providing them all employment.
I’ve carped at this site before how the Doc novels of the late 1930s began to loose their effectiveness and originality. But this story is really an exception from start to finish. It ranks as one of the best, purely science fiction stories in the Doc Savage cannon. It also has a very good cover by Boris, the only Boris cover that didn’t bore me to death. Great story. Highly recommended.
I almost hate to post my comment, but here goes… For me, this one sucked! It was one of the very few Docs that I bought brand-new ( normally, used-book shops supplied my needs ) and I was strongly tempted to contact the Dent estate and demand my money back! It took me two tries, over an 18 year period, to wade through the novel – and it wasn’t really worth the effort. I’ve stated elsewhere on another post that the “lost civilisation” Docs are my least favourite, so that may be the main reason, but I distinctly remember balking at the hideous Boris cover! It was my first experience of Boris as a Doc artist, and he ain’t no Feiffer let alone a Bama! I avoided the new Bantams after that, seeking out the earlier books instead. I realise that all we Doc fans can’t be expected to like EVERY Doc tale ever published, but Dent (thank the Lord) has done better than this farrago. Ties with BRAND OF THE WEREWOLF as worst Doc ever!