Read Captain Future 08 - The Lost World of Time (Fall 1941) Online

Authors: Edmond Hamilton

Tags: #Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Captain Future 08 - The Lost World of Time (Fall 1941)

BOOK: Captain Future 08 - The Lost World of Time (Fall 1941)
10.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub




#8 Fall 1941




A Complete Book-Length Scientifiction Novel

The Lost World of Time

by Edmond Hamilton

The Futuremen race into the past to answer a cry for help that has traveled across a hundred million years! Follow Captain Future as the greatest enigma of all time transports him into the forgotten ages.




Radio Archives • 2012

Copyright Page


Copyright © 1941 by Better Publications, Inc. © 2012 All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form.



These pulp stories are a product of their time. The text is reprinted intact, unabridged, and may include ethnic and cultural stereotyping that was typical of the era.


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ISBN 978-1610818377


The original introduction to Captain Future as it appeared in issue #1


The Wizard of Science! Captain Future!

The most colorful planeteer in the Solar System makes his debut in this, America's newest and most scintillating scientifiction magazine — CAPTAIN FUTURE.

This is the magazine more than one hundred thousand scientifiction followers have been clamoring for! Here, for the first time in scientifiction history, is a publication devoted exclusively to the thrilling exploits of the greatest fantasy character of all time!

Follow the flashing rocket-trail of the
as the most extraordinary scientist of nine worlds have ever known explores the outposts of the cosmos to the very shores of infinity. Read about the Man of Tomorrow today!

Meet the companions of Captain Future, the most glamorous trio in the Universe!

Grag, the giant, metal robot; Otho, the man-made, synthetic android; and aged Simon Wright, the living Brain.

This all-star parade of the most unusual characters in the realm of fantasy is presented for your entertainment. Come along with this amazing band as they rove the enchanted space-ways — in each issue of CAPTAIN FUTURE!


The Lost World of Time

A Complete Book-Length Scientifiction Novel

by Edmond Hamilton


The Futuremen race into the past to answer a cry for help that has traveled across a hundred million years! Follow Captain Future as the greatest enigma of all time transports him into the forgotten ages.



Chapter 1: Mystery Asteroid


THE asteroid swung dark and lonely on its predestined path through space, a tiny world of brooding mystery and silence. It was but one of the countless asteroids, meteor swarms and other interplanetary debris that form a great band between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. A dense little world with a thin envelope of air, it was clad with a thick jungle of flat, fronded green trees and shrubs.

Many-legged asteroid rats scurried to and fro in the jungle and flame-birds cut soaring, phosphorescent trails amid the fronds. Now and again a tentative breeze stirred the fronds to leathery rustling. Then resumed the long, heavy silences of an unpeopled world...

But tonight there was a new, alien sound, coming from the meteor-blazoned sky. It was the high, droning hum of rocket-tubes.

The drone grew louder. Out of the sky sank a battered Kalber space ship, its keel-tubes flaming as it dropped to a landing in a rocky clearing of the jungle. After it came another rusty Kalber. The doors of the two ships opened. Men emerged, their voices echoing thinly through the night of the miniature world. The rodents and creepers of the jungle shrank away. The flame-birds fled in fright. There were eleven men, a roughly dressed, hardy-looking crew. Among them were red Martians, a tall, stringy, blue Saturnian, a gray-skinned, peak-headed Neptunian, a tanned, eager boy of Earth, and a couple of squat, green Jovians. They were meteor miners, prospectors who scoured the countless asteroids and meteor swarms of the Zone in search of rare and valuable metals. That their expedition had gone well so far was evidenced by their cheerfulness.

"This is it — Asteroid two-twenty-one," declared the brawny Jovian who was the leader of the party. "It's never been prospected yet, as far as I know. We may find a rich bed of titanium or tellurium here."

"We already got enough for a year's spree on any planet," the tall, cadaverous Saturnian snickered. "It's the best trip we've made yet."

"Break out an atomic glower and get it going," ordered the Jovian captain. "We'll camp in the open tonight. I'm sick of ship's air."

The men brought out the flat, disklike machine and set it up on the rocks near their ships. It gave off a steady flame of atomic fire that beat back the gathering chill of night.


THE warm light flickered off the grotesque fronded trees around the clearing, glinted off the battered hulls of the two Kalbers and set flame-birds flying farther away with startled squawks. It glowed cheerily on the faces of the motley group of adventurers as they sprawled in its radiance, eating flat cakes of Jovian bread and chunks of thawed Saturnian beef, washed down by flasks of strong Venusian wine.

"Pretty good going for your first space trip, eh, Melton?" the Neptunian asked the eager, brown-faced Earth youth beside him. "You've already got a small fortune in your share of the metals in those holds."

Brad Melton nodded.

"It isn't the money as much as the adventure of it. All my life I wanted to be a spaceman. I was afraid I'd never get off Earth, never see other planets."

When he had finished eating, Melton strolled around the clearing. He stared wonderingly at the dark, brooding jungle, the flame-birds and the incredible meteor-blazing sky. Then he noticed something about the black rocks underfoot that made him bend down and examine it closely.

"Look at this rock!" he cried. "Part of it was carved by someone. It must be the wreck of a wall or building, maybe a city!"

"Sure, kid, there's ancient carved rocks and queer bits of metal on lots of these asteroids," answered the Jovian casually. He turned to the old Martian who was planetologist and assayer for the party. "You scientists think there was people on them once, don't you?"

"Yes, in a way," answered the Martian. "But it must have been very long ago. Nobody's ever found any really worthwhile remains."

Brad Melton continued to poke curiously around the crumbling rocks at the edge of the clearing.

After a moment he shouted excitedly again.

"Say, there's something queer here. It felt as if I stepped into an invisible beam of some kind. It made me feel as though I were hearing someone talk to me."

The Jovian leader laughed deprecatingly.

"You get all kinds of weird feelings on these little worlds, Melton. Some of 'em are plenty weird, like the one they call Circe. I'll never forget how a bunch of us landed on it and found the crew of a freighter that had been wrecked there. They weren't even men any more. The chemical in the air of that cursed asteroid had transformed 'em into beasts such as you never saw —"

His deep voice continued relating the tale, while the motley group around the flaring atomic glower listened with great interest. None of them noticed that Brad Melton was acting queerly out in the shadows. Too busy to pay attention to the story, the young Earthman was moving about experimentally, trying to rediscover a certain spot. Suddenly he stopped.

Had they been watching, they would have seen a strange, listening expression upon his face. For a long time he stood there in a queerly rigid, listening attitude.

"So we left the poor devils on Circe and reported 'em as dead when we got back to Mars," the Jovian captain finished. "I guess it would have been better for them if they'd been dead. They sure couldn't have enjoyed being alive."

There was a brief silence and then the gray Neptunian shivered.

"That's a nice bedtime story," he muttered. "These little worlds give me the creeps."

They looked up as Brad Melton came back to the light. The youth's tanned face was pale and he seemed laboring under intense excitement. He sat down and stared into the atomic flame, his lean fingers twisting and untwisting, his blue eyes wide and strange. He seemed inwardly debating something that had enormously upset him.

The others glanced away and talked on, matching tales of faraway worlds and moons, of adventure on the shoreless sea of Neptune, prospecting the lightless caves of Uranus, mining on the terrible Hot Side of Mercury, or hazardous searches amid the jagged planetoids of Saturn's Rings.


BRAD MELTON abruptly turned to the old Martian scientist.

"Nilga, you know a lot about science. Tell me this. Is there anybody living who's ever found the secret of crossing time?"

The Martian turned and stared at him in surprise.

"You mean time-traveling? Whatever put that in your head, Melton?"

"I just got to wondering," Melton evaded. His whole bearing was anxious and taut as he insisted; "Has anybody ever discovered the secret?"

The old red scientist shook his head.

"Why, no. There's no one who's solved that problem, though plenty of scientists have worked on it in the last hundred years. You see, Melton, the scientists of the System have known for a long time that time-traveling is theoretically possible. Time, you know, is simply the fourth dimension of matter, the four being length, breadth, thickness and duration. Theoretically we should be able to find a way to move along the time dimension, but actually nobody's ever succeeded in doing it. That is, unless —"

"Unless what?" Brad Melton asked quickly. "Do you mean that maybe somebody has done it?"

"Well, there are people who say that Captain Future knows the secret of time-traveling, but perhaps that's just a story. After all, they tell so many stories about Captain Future that the truth is bound to get stretched now and then."

"Captain Future?" the young Earthman repeated, his eyes alight with awe. "Of course! Why didn't I think of him? If anybody alive would know that secret, he, the greatest scientist in the System, would be that one."

"I doubt it," the old Martian said skeptically. "Oh, I know all the wonderful things that Future and those strange comrades of his, the Futuremen, have done. They've achieved plenty of scientific miracles, but time-traveling? No, I can't believe that even Future has solved that."

"But he
have," persisted Brad Melton hopefully. "Maybe he solved the problem without telling the System about it."

"It's possible," granted the old scientist. "Nobody does know half the things he's done in that laboratory-home of his on Earth's Moon. But time-traveling, I'm afraid, would stump even Captain Future."

The Jovian captain threw away his
cigarette and yawned.

"I'm turning in, boys. We'll get up early tomorrow and start prospecting."

Soon the whole group, with one exception, lay around the glowing heater. Swathed in their synthewool blankets, they were sleeping the carefree slumber of interplanetary adventurers who take no thought for the morrow.

Brad Melton was the exception. He sat gazing into the atomic flame, his eyes wide and absorbed, his face intense with concentration. His inner excitement seemed to come finally to a crescendo. He rose to his feet with nervous resolution.

"I'm going to do it!" he whispered. "I may be crazy. I ought to ignore it all, but I can't. That faraway voice, pleading — the life or death of all those people — I've
to do it!"

With silent, quick steps he moved toward one of the space ships and began his stealthy preparations.


THE sleeping meteor miners were awakened by a sudden staccato roar. They sat up bewilderedly, rubbing their eyes. A trail of rocket-fire curved toward the sky. One of the ships was gone.

"What in the name of all the devils of Jupiter!" swore their leader angrily. "Who took that ship?"

"Young Melton," was the answer. "He must have gone crazy."

"Maybe he's gone off with all our metal!"

"If he has, I'll never trust my judgment of human nature again," bellowed the Jovian. "No, he didn't take the metal. See?"

The small, heavy sacks of tantalum, tellurium and other metals lay on the ground. Pinned to one sack was a note.


I'm leaving half my share of metal to pay for the ship I'm taking. If you had heard it, you wouldn't have ignored that cry for help, either. I'm going to the one man in the System who can answer it.


"Why, he must be space-struck to run away like this!" exclaimed the Jovian.

"He was acting queerly last night," commented the old Martian. "He kept talking about hearing voices and then about time-traveling."

The men looked uneasily around the dark, brooding jungle.

"Something here drove him off his orbit," muttered the Neptunian superstitiously. "This is another of those bad asteroids you talked about."

"Let's get out of here before
begin to hear voices and go crazy, too!" demanded the Saturnian excitedly.

There was a general chorus of approval. These men were not easily frightened, but they sensed something alien and possibly menacing about this brooding, lonely planetoid, something that might drive them to madness.

"All right, we'll go," growled the Jovian. "Don't see any trace of metals here, anyway. Load up, boys. We'll have to carry on in one ship now. I doubt if we'll ever see young Melton again." He shook his head. "All the same, I'd like to know what it was on this cursed little world that drove him out of his mind."



Chapter 2: Citadel of Science


EARTH bulked in the sky like a huge green disk, filling half the heavens. It cast a strange, soft-green radiance upon the wild and rugged surface of the Moon.

Savage, hostile and unutterably forbidding stretched the lunar landscape. Here was no air or sound, no wind or water. Eternally changeless plains of barren rock stretched toward mighty mountain ranges whose uneroded peaks menaced the sky like bared fangs. Giant craters ringed by circular walls of immense altitude frowned like blind eyes.

BOOK: Captain Future 08 - The Lost World of Time (Fall 1941)
10.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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