The Invisible World, by Ed Earl Repp

Have we found the ultimate invisibility story? Read on…

In hindsight, I should have realized that I would find a story that takes invisibility to the extreme! Once we’ve had invisible people, invisible monsters, and invisible cities, it was inevitable that we would get to an entire invisible planet!

“The Invisible Planet,” by Ed Earl Repp, first appeared in the October 1940 issue of Amazing Stories, which was the very first science fiction magazine. Ed Earl Repp was a regular contributor to the pulp magazines, though after World War II he focused his energy on writing screenplays for Westerns. One can understand the passion for Westerns, because “The Invisible Planet” is very much an action-packed adventure with lots of gunplay and a cartoonish villain!

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Salvage in Space, by Jack Williamson

Yep, I’ve still got more invisibility stories to discuss! In fact, I found 4 more through searching old magazines today. Reminder that I’ll have a book on the history of invisibility physics coming out next year!

Although invisibility is a science fiction trope, we haven’t seen that many invisibility stories yet that really embrace the traditional “outer space” setting of sci-fi. We’ve seen Slan, although invisibility plays a minor role in the story, and “The Attack From Space,” which mostly takes place on Earth, though the alien invaders are from Mercury.

Let’s look at something much more Golden Age sci-fi with “Salvage in Space,” by Jack Williamson! It first appeared in the March 1933 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. It features a meteor miner coming face to face with an invisible alien that has annihilated the crew of a now derelict spaceship.

Before discussing the story, can I just mention how much I adore the illustration of the monster that comes with it?

It looks very reminiscent of a Japanese oni, a sort of demon or ogre, and I suspect the artist was inspired by such a source!

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The Radiant Shell, by Paul Ernst

Another invisibility story! The number and variety of stories continues to amaze me.

You know what we haven’t really seen yet? A good invisible spy story! “Raiders Invisible” came close, but its invisible spies were the bad guys; we need a story about a heroic invisible spy!

So let’s take a look at “The Radiant Shell,” by Paul Ernst, which appeared in the January 1932 issue of Astounding Stories.

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The Attack From Space, by Captain S.P. Meek

Yet another blog post about invisibility in fiction! Just as a reminder, this is to celebrate the completion of my book draft on the history of invisibility physics, coming next year (I hope).

Let me recap and build upon a list I started a few posts ago: so far, we’ve had invisible people, invisible monsters, invisible buildings, invisible cars, invisible dogs, invisible spacecraft, invisible robots, and invisible superheroes. But we haven’t yet seen invisible aliens, so let’s rectify that!

Today’s story is from another addict of invisibility, Captain S.P. Meek, who also wrote “The Cave of Horror,” which appeared in the January 1930 issue of Astounding Stories of Super-Science. Fast forward to September of 1930, and we find that Meek has another story, “The Attack From Space!”

As noted in the image, this story is a sequel to Meek’s “Beyond the Heaviside Layer,” which appeared in the July 1930 issue of the same magazine. So, before we get to this story, we have to say a few words about what “the Heaviside layer” is…

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Beyond the Spectrum, by Arthur Leo Zagat

Yet another post of invisibility fiction, driven by all the stories I found while researching my invisibility book!

Here we have a curious case: an invisibility story written by a lawyer-turned-author, Arthur Leo Zagat (1896-1949)! Zagat wrote for many pulp magazines, and published one novel, Seven Out of Time, that was released the year of his death. But let’s look at his invisibility story, “Beyond the Spectrum,” which appeared in the August 1934 issue of Astounding Stories.

This particular story doesn’t do much of anything that hasn’t been done by other tales, but does introduce a race of invisible monsters that seem very Lovecraftian!

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The Invisible Robinhood, by Eando Binder

Okay, this story seemed at first to be a pretty silly and stupid invisibility tale, but it leads down a fascinating historical rabbit hole. So follow along…

The setting: the city, late at night. A young couple in love are walking to the subway after leaving a party, when a voice from the shadows says, “Stick ’em up!” A robber, at gunpoint, demands their valuables.

After a hopeless glance up and down the street, the young man gave up his wallet, watch and gold stick­pin. The girl was forced to give her pocketbook, ear­rings and silver bracelets. She fumbled nervously. Impatiently, the gunman clutched at the locket around her neck.

“Oh, not that!” gasped the girl. ”I’ve had it all my life-please-“

“Shut up!” growled the bandit. “I take what I want. I’ll 1have that locket, too-“

Does this scene sound familiar? You might be thinking that a young Bruce Wayne should also be present, and that this is the origin story of Batman! But it is not; let’s continue:

“Shut up!” growled the bandit. “I take what I want. I’ll 1have that locket, too-”

”I dont think you will!” said another voice. The gunman whirled, tensely, ready to shoot. He saw nothing to shoot at. But something like a steel hand grasped his wrist and twisted it sharply. He dropped his gun with a cry of agony.

“Rat! Preying on people like a vulture-” said the ghostly voice again, from empty air.

Something like an iron fist cracked against the ban­dit’s jaw, snapping his head back. The gunman tried to run away, but an unseen fist struck him in Which­ever direction he tried. Again and again blows landed till the robber dropped unconscious, with blood streaming from his battered face.

The scene you are reading is from “The Invisible Robinhood,” written by Eando Binder, which appeared in the May 1939 issue of Fantastic Adventures, indeed the very first issue of that magazine!

As we will see, “The Invisible Robinhood” is really one of the earliest superhero adventures out there — and in fact appeared at almost the same time as Batman! Some spoilers given in the post.

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Beyond Power of Man, by Paul Ernst

Continuing my run of stories of invisibility to celebrate finishing the draft of my book on the history and physics of invisibility! I probably should’ve waited to do this until my book is actually out… ah, well.

With so many invisibility stories having been written, it was inevitable that I would come across one that seems like a re-run of earlier classics. Such is the case with “Beyond Power of Man,” by Paul Ernst, which appeared in the December 1928 issue of Weird Tales!

This story seems like a striking mishmash of several classic stories about invisibility! Let’s take a look.

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Terrors Unseen, by Harl Vincent

Yet another invisibility story! So many invisibility stories.

So, in the list of stories we’ve looked at so far, we’ve seen invisible people, invisible monsters, invisible buildings, invisible cars, invisible dogs, and invisible spacecraft. But you now what we haven’t seen yet? Invisible robots!

Our invisible robots appear in Harl Vincent’s “Terrors Unseen,” which appeared in the March 1931 issue of Astounding Stories. It is not a particularly astounding story, but it does has invisible robots, so let’s take a look!

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The Invisible Master, by Edmond Hamilton

I keep finding new invisibility stories! Will I ever come to an end? Stay tuned!

It is pretty clear at this point that stories about invisibility were a huge business in the early to mid 20th century, and every author of science fiction or horror had to get in on the action in some way or another.

For example, I just had to type “Edmond Hamilton” and “invisibility” into a search bar and found Edmond Hamilton’s “The Invisible Master,” that appeared in Scientific Detective Monthly in the April, 1930 issue.

Complete image from the story taken from DarkWorlds Quarterly.

Edmond Hamilton (1904-1977) is another one of those super-prolific science fiction authors who had a huge influence on the field but isn’t broadly recognized like an Asimov, Bradbury or Clarke. I would be hard-pressed to single out a particular story of his that everyone would know, but I’m particularly fond of “The Metal Giants,” that appeared in Weird Tales in December 1926. I like big stompy robots!

“The Invisible Master” is more of a mystery story than science fiction, marking invisibility’s foray into another genre of fiction. It also happens to have one of the best and most enjoyable descriptions of invisibility that I’ve yet seen! Let’s take a look at the story, and I’m going to be a bit spoilery this time!

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The Little Man Who Wasn’t All There, by Robert Bloch

More invisibility! More invisibility fiction for the gods of invisibility fiction! Or something. Again, blogging about all the invisibility stories I’ve been coming across while finishing my book on invisibility physics.

It seems that pretty much every important author of science fiction and horror has written a story about invisibility at some point. One really just has to google a famous name and the word “invisibility” and see what comes up.

For example, one of my more recent discoveries is “The Little Man Who Wasn’t All There,” by Robert Bloch, published in the August, 1942 issue of Fantastic Adventures.

Robert Bloch was a correspondent of H.P. Lovecraft’s when he was young, and he went on to have his own impressive career as an author of horror. His most famous tale is Psycho (1959), which was adapted into the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name.

“The Little Man Who Wasn’t All There” is one of a series of semi-comedic tall tale type stories narrated by the character Lefty Feep. Bloch wrote 22 of these stories between 1942 and 1946.

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