Science Fiction Short Story Review: "Raider Invisible" by D. W. Hall

@msiduri (5841)
United States
December 1, 2016 9:16am CST
Nearly the entire U.S. fleet is engaged in a fantastic war games exercise protecting the Panama Canal. It is March 1935. One of the two 1000-ft. long ZX dirigibles begins flying erratically then explodes and crashes into the ocean, killing all aboard. There is no explanation for this; the dirigible was filled with non-flammable helium. The engines ran on diesel, not gasoline. Lieutenant Christopher Travers, pilot of a scout plane, had noticed an odd plane with Navy markings docked to it just before things went south. He can do nothing but return to his own dirigible now, where he notices the same plane docked to it. And this ZX is beginning to fly erratically. Much to his puzzlement, he sees the plane take off with no one in it. He uses his onboard “radio-phone” to let the command center know what he’d doing and boards the dirigible. He finds not just a bomb, but a device of incredible destructive capacity. This is space opera at its most unapologetic. And fun. Lt. Travers pursues the enemy successfully, but in the meantime, he’s shot and beaten. His jaw and leg bones are broken. He loses his plane, suffers torture without giving himself away. But the others guys end up looking much worse. It borders on masochism. Nevertheless, it’s easy to overlook this because the reader is invested in Chris’s outcome. The young man is daring, but not reckless. The author provides little background on him. Where is he from? Does he have family? Author D. W. Hall provides an explanation for the invisibility. It is achieved through a process suitably full of tubes and sloshing liquids. Nor mere Romulan cloaking device for these saboteurs. He also gives a reason for the improbable (if convenient) use of English by Russian bad’uns in their evil lair in the Azuero Peninsula, Panama so Chris can overhear them and try to foil their dastardly plans. I had a lot of fun with this. Granted it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. No one will confuse it with great literature. No profound thought, but curled up with a cup of hot chocolate (with or without secret ingredient) one can spend a pleasant rainy afternoon saving the Western world from the evil plans of Russians who speak English pretty well. In the early 1930s, Hall collaborated with writer and editor Harry Bates to write the then-popular Hawk Carse series. What little I’ve read of it leaves me unimpressed. In addition to his science fiction pulp writing, Desmond Hall wrote a novel about Oscar Wilde, I Give You Oscar Wilde (1965). At various times, he worked as a literary agent, an editor of Mademoiselle magazine, and owned 16 Magazine. The text of the story is available here: ____ Title: “Raiders Invisible” Author: D. W. Hall (Desmond Winter Hall) (1911-1992) First published: Astounding Stories November 1931 Source: ISFDB
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29053
4 people like this
3 responses
@teamfreak16 (33620)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
2 Dec
I'm too sick to try to read this right now. I do want to, though. It sounds really cool.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5841)
• United States
2 Dec
Sorry to hear that. Get well! The story isn't going anywhere. It's been around for more than eighty years.
1 person likes this
@1hopefulman (18710)
• Canada
1 Dec
I am currently rewatching the Voyageur series. I like science fiction but not reading much these days.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5841)
• United States
1 Dec
That's part of the problem. So many ways to devote your attention and only so much time.
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (36250)
• Los Angeles, California
1 Dec
That sounds like a fun and fantastical story.
1 person likes this
@msiduri (5841)
• United States
1 Dec
Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Shakespeare, maybe not, though.