Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rocket Stories

Looking at a copy of the first issue of Rocket Stories (1953) the other day, I noticed that the lead "complete novel" was by H. A. deRosso. Having liked a couple of deRosso's noirish westerns (including this one), I thought I'd give "The Quest of Quaa" a try. What a mistake. It's terrible.

The opening is the kind of thing I'm a sucker for. Cardwell is a prisoner in a Venusian jail, but he has a chance to earn his freedom. After that, it's all downhill, from the entertaining to the ridiculous. I'm sure I'd have fallen for about nine-tenths of it when I was a kid, but I think that even then I'd have found the fairy-dusted ending ridiculous. Rocket Stories didn't last long, and if this story's any example of its general quality, I can see why. I'm tempted to read a couple of the others and see. John Jakes and Milton Lesser are usually pretty reliable entertainers. But I'm almost afraid to give them a look.

5 comments:

David Jack Bell said...

I didn't realize DeRosso ever wrote sci-fi. I'd be disappointed too since his westerns are so good. But the Jakes probably won't let you down.

Todd Mason said...

Oh, I dunno about that...and it definitely sounds like "sci-fi" in the full "sigh, Fie!" sense. ROCKET STORIES was the title Lester del Rey was aiming specifically at the younger audience (as opposed to FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION ADVENTURES), and perhaps, as with most such ventures, editor and most writers thought the best way to do that was to Dumb Down. I've never understood such attitudes, but perhaps that's because I actually remember what I liked as a kid.

I knew, when first coming across De Rosso's name as a western and CF writer, that I'd come across that name somewhere before...

Todd Mason said...

Then again, when we consider much of what Del Rey chose for the fantasy line at Del Rey/Ballantine, and how well so much of the worst of it did...

Bill Crider said...

True. Some of it sold a ton.

Juri said...

Some of DeRosso's crime stories are (at least in the Finnish translation I read them) also pretty blah. I especially remember a spy story about someone called Riddle.