Oh, for a handsome man in a space suit! *heavy sigh*
Curtis Newton, Captain Future, was space opera hero of the 21st Century. Born in 1990, he was the solar system’s greatest defender. Curt was a genius inventor with flaming red hair, a ready laugh and a keen eye for justice. Superman’s Fortress of Solitude was inspired by Future’s secluded base on the Moon. And the Bat-Signal by his North Pole flare. His unhuman sidekicks included a robot, an android, and a disembodied brain. Yes, it all sounds very corny but the stories just got better and better and have inspired an anime series and contemporary works by Allen Steele. I was delighted when PulpFest editor, Mike Chomko, asked me to write an article celebrating Captain Future’s eightieth birthday. The article is out today. Here’s a preview:
The Wizard of Science
Captain Future is a science fiction pulp hero with a very long reach. He’s appeared in more than two dozen stories, comics, cartoon and live-action television shows, and may yet appear in a big-budget movie. His origin owes much to Doc Savage, and some of his gimmicks were re-tooled for SUPERMAN and BATMAN. He’s even been written about by one of New York’s premier humorists, S. J. Perelman…
Edmond Hamilton developed the series (and wrote most of the stories) which ran from 1940 to 1951. Hamilton is one of my biggest inspirations as a New Pulp writer. A sense of wonder gives his stories a shine that hasn’t dulled with the decades. Today, space stories are often categorized as “hard science fiction.” To me, this means that they’re cold like the vacuum of space (but with science.) Hamilton’s stories are never cold. His mind’s eye visioned distant stars and then described them to us in vivid detail. I’ve never read anyone, from his era or ours, that did it as well. His characterizations were of the times, sure, but they were also more than that. They’re about people. People I’d like to meet, no matter what their form or planet of origin. Captain Future continues to inspire and Heaven knows we need some good heroes today!