A ball of fire streaks across the heavens leaving death and ruin in its wake — A machine of terror which cannot be halted — An amazing intelligence capable of rendering an entire continent barren… All America trembles as Doc Savage grapples with the most awesome challenge of his astonishing career!
7 thoughts on “The Secret in the Sky”
Neat meteor-transport plot device, otherwise just a routine Doc tale (which, of course, still makes it better than most!).
This one takes some heat from a number of fans but I don’t understand why. The action is great and Doc encountering real aliens working with gangsters is as campy as it gets. This was one of the first I read and it is still in my top ten. Doc and real aliens! Come on! What could be better?
This has one of the very best of the Bama covers. (Notice how realistic Steve Holland’s right biscep sags.) The story is a light one, but also a quick read. Renny shines in the end and some of the action throughout is violent. In fact, I thought the end to this tale to be quite violent.
Coming as it does during a fertile period when some of the best Doc
Savage stories were being written, “The Secret in the Sky” comes as a
bit of a disappointment. It is not a terrible Doc novel, but it is
decidedly below average.
While the central basis for the story (the incredible stratosphere
ships used by the baddies) is a good one, the plot itself seems
underdeveloped and the book has a feel of having been written in a
rush to get done without the time taken to polish it up. As a result,
we are left with several dangling plot threads and unanswered
For instance, Willard Spanner’s (the man whose initial murder draws
Doc into the case) involvement is problematical. Why did the crooks
steal Spanner’s body and clothes from the morgue? What was all the
rigmarole with pretending that Spanner was still alive and trying to
demand ransom for him even after his body was found and identified?
If they intended to ransom him under this pretense, why did they
originally leave his body to be found? How did the baddies know his
brother Nock’s middle name, something which only the two men were
supposed to know? None of these questions is ever satisfactorily
Nock himself seems like he is going to become an important character
in the storyline, but he suddenly disappears from the action about
3/4 of the way through and is never mentioned again.
The person who is finally revealed at the master villian at the end
of the story doesn’t seem logical with what has gone before. For one
thing, it seems like in at least one scene this person is in the room
with other crooks at the time they get a radio message from the
chief. If this person really is the chief of the gang, then who was
doing the talking on the radio?
Another poster on docsavage.org made reference to “real aliens”
appearing in the story. Uh . . . actually no they don’t. Although the
sky ships are called “extraterrestrial” a couple of times, this does
not refer to their origin. It is established quite clearly that they
were made here on Earth and that the agency behind them is a human
one. A really neat concept, though, too bad they couldn’t have been
used in a better story.
This story was the last of six Doc adventures chosen for reprint by
Golden Press in the mid-seventies in handsome hardbound illustrated
editions. All of the other five are excellent and essential Savage
tales, but one wonders after showing such expertise and discernment
in choosing the first five volumes GP would then go with a lesser
tale like “Secret”.
Being sick this weekend, I reread The Secret in the Sky to see if it was as a big disappointment as Todd claimed. If anything, he was charitable
The premise is very good — an evil inventor comes up with an inertialess drive and all hell breaks loose. Dent does a wonderful job of describing the infernal devices and imaging how they would move in the terrestial atmosphere.
However, Doc isn’t really at his best here, aside from escaping a death threat early and showing insatiable curiousity about how the “comets” work, and the aids, aside from one scene at a New York apartment house, are pretty much wasted.
A pretty average book
Granted, there are several minor plot problems in this, but overall it’s a really fun read. Dent was always at his best when he created bad-guy gadgets that defied scientific explanation, and the supersonic transport spheres in “Secret” are a perfect example.
They beat the heck out of the giant spider puppet in “The Mountain Monster” or the lame smoke bomb in “The Yellow Cloud.” In fact, the scene in “Secret” where Doc is in awe of the sphere’s technology is worth the price of the book alone. Not to mention the literally explosive ending. Lighten up guys and enjoy the ride.
A great story line that just gets lost in the transmission. I thought this adventure was another that seemed to plod along until it’s conclusion. It could have been a great story, but Dent wraps things up to rapidly, leaving several loose ends.