The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown
The author of The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril is off on another romp (the title refers to the three leading sci-fi pulp magazines of the 1940s) as the early fathers of the science fiction genre turn action heroes for some stateside World War II intrigue. The government-sponsored Kamikaze Group is led by Robert Heinlein, in early retirement, although his editor is having none of it (who retires from writing? It’s hardly work to begin with.). His team is Sprague de Camp, a young Isaac Asimov, L. Ron Hubbard, and later The Shadow himself, Walter Gibson.
Traveling from their base in Philadelphia to New York and the North and South Pacific, this crew is trying the beat Nazis in search of the Wunderwaffe wonder weapon. But is it a weapon of destruction or communication? No one seems to know, but the wonder boys think the answer lies in the decades-earlier War of Currents waged between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Their search takes them deep in their own imaginations as well as through great physical trials and emotional entanglements in their imperfect marriages. They try to save a world at war as they continue to dream of possibilities for a better future.
Well-paced by episodes rather than chapters, Malmont’s thriller proceeds at breakneck speed of a serial adventure, with cameos provided by other wonder boys Frederick Pohl, Hugo Gernsback, Kurt Vonnegut, and Albert Einstein, and stunts ranging from making a battleship disappear to several literal cliff hangers. The pace only slackens when this Jason and the new Argonauts must deal with their womenfolk who are by turn demons, armpiece wives, or clinging vines.