Cloak of Aesir, by Don A. Stuart

This is the last of my daily run of blog posts for now, marking the 30th post in a row! Most of them have been on invisibility in fiction, and we wrap with a fascinating example. I’ve still got more invisibility to post, but I won’t try to do them every day…

Is there a word for finding the correct thing by mistake? That is basically what happened with the next story of invisibility to discuss, “Cloak of Aesir,” by Don A. Stuart, published in the March 1939 issue of Astounding Science-Fiction.

So why was I mistaken? Well, here’s the description of “Cloak of Aesir” from the table of contents:

A man and the Sarn-Mother and a cloak of blackness— and the old Sarn-Mothcr couldn’t hate that human enemy!

The description of the “cloak of blackness” is what caught my attention, as it certainly sounds like something invisible-y! In the story, however, the cloak is easy to spot in most circumstances, as long as there is light around. Nevertheless, the story also includes invisibility devices, so I found an invisibility story for the wrong reason!

But this story is special for another reason: it uses some physics to explain the “Cloak of Aesir” that I’ve never seen in a science fiction story before! So let’s take a look. Significant spoilers ahead, so if you want you can read the story in advance.

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Ghost Planet, by Thorne Lee

The penultimate post on invisibility in fiction in my attempt to blog 30 days in a row! I’ve got more stories to blog after that, but this will probably be the end of my continuous run.

So we’ve technically already had one story about an actual “Invisible World,” but Ed Earl Repp’s story clearly didn’t go far enough — the world itself wasn’t invisible, it just had an atmosphere that guided light around it, acting like a cloaking device. But what if the entire planet, and everything on it, were perfectly invisible? That’s the story in Thorne Lee’s “Ghost Planet,” which appeared in the June 1943 issue of Startling Stories:

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The People of the Pit, by A. Merritt

Getting close to the end of my run of invisibility in fiction posts! Hope you’ve been enjoying them!

Here we take a quick look at a story by one of my favorite weird fiction authors: Abraham Merritt, who went by A. Merritt in most of his printed work. The story in question is “The People of the Pit,” which first appeared in the All-Story Weekly Magazine in January of 1918; it can be read here. I happened across a reprint that appeared in the first Amazing Stories Annual, published in 1927.

A. Merritt would regularly include invisibility in his fiction. In his 1923 The Face in the Abyss, he introduced invisible winged serpents that effectively had cloaking devices to make themselves invisible. In his 1932 Dwellers in the Mirage he introduced an entire invisible city hidden in a valley protected by a mirage.

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Invisible One, by Neil R. Jones

Starting to get exhausted by all these invisibility posts! But I’m going for 30 straight days of blogging, then I’ll rest.

The scene:

In her Ohio home on the outskirts of the 26th Century metropolis of Cincinnati, Moira Presby softly hummed a current air and eagerly awaited the return of her husband who had been called away suddenly that evening on promising business. She was as happy as people of the earth were expected to be happy under the joint rule of the Durna Rangue, a semi-scientific cult, and the space pirates.

Okay, so in the future the Earth is being ruled by a semi-scientific cult, and… space pirates???

I must admit that this introduction, which explains how the cultists joined with space pirates to take over the Earth and keep out the “Interplanetary Guard,” did not leave me optimistic about the quality of “Invisible One” by Neil R. Jones, which appeared in the September 1940 issue of Super Science Stories.

However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised! Though it is by no means a classic of the genre, it is an intriguing “invisibility caper” that had enough cleverness to it to keep me reading.

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Invisible Men of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nearing the end of my run of posts about invisibility in fiction! Be sure to look out for my book on the history of invisibility physics next year!

One thing that is truly amazing about invisibility in fiction is how much more prevalent it is than I first thought. So many famous authors have tackled stories about invisibility, from Jules Verne to Jack London to Ambrose Bierce to A.E. van Vogt. The idea of invisibility really has a power to it that has inspired many.

With that in mind, here’s another famous author’s story about invisibility, featuring one of his most famous creations! Today, we look at “Invisible Men of Mars,” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which appeared in the October 1941 issue of Amazing Stories.

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) probably needs no introduction, but if he does: he is the author of the Tarzan novels, which began in 1912, and the John Carter of Mars novels, which also began in 1912.

“Invisible Men of Mars” is the last John Carter story published in his lifetime, and the final part of a four part series. In this series, John Carter, who has now been on Mars for many years, encounters his granddaughter Llana of Gathol in an abandoned city, and the two of them embark on a number of adventures while attempting to stop the Warlord Hin Abtol from taking over Barsoom (aka Mars). Some mild spoilers provided, so as before read the story here first.

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The Chameleon Man, by William P. McGivern

Getting closer to the end of my run of invisibility posts! Here’s one that’s a little different…

So when is something unable to be seen but not invisible? Well, the answer is handily demonstrated by William P. McGivern’s “The Chameleon Man,” which appeared in the January 1942 issue of Amazing Stories!

Let’s come back to this picture in a few moments. But here we’ve got a story about a different way of not being seen, and it’s worth talking about it!

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Land of the Shadow Dragons, by Eando Binder

Just a reminder again that I’ll (hopefully) have a book out on the history and physics of invisibility next year, so keep an eye out!

Here we have a first in our discussion of invisibility in fiction — a sequel! “Land of the Shadow Dragons,” by Eando Binder, appeared in the May 1941 issue of Fantastic Adventures, and it is a direct sequel to Binder’s “The Invisible Robinhood.” It even merited a cover image:

It was weirdly thrilling to see the return of The Invisible Robinhood in print, even in this era of endless superhero movies and their sequels. This example, because it was much less common in that era, seems somehow more magical and precious to me. I’ll do some spoilers again, so read the story here first if you’re worried about that.

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The Invisible Bomber, by Lieutenant John Pease

Still more invisibility in fiction to come! It seems like an almost endless subject.

I didn’t have particularly high expectations for this next story. “The Invisible Bomber,” by Lieutenant John Pease, appeared in the June 1938 issue of Amazing Stories. My initial thought: “An invisible airplane? That’s been done, and doesn’t seem like a particularly exciting concept.”

However, this story, which is relatively short in comparison to others I’ve read (7 pages instead of an average of 14), has a few clever twists and surprises to it, as well as a novel description of invisibility! I will talk spoilers in this post, so read the story here first if you want.

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The Man Who Could Vanish, by A. Hyatt Verrill

Yet another invisibility story! It is simply amazing how many of these are out there. And I haven’t even really looked past the year 1960.

If you look at the cover of the January 1927 issue of Amazing Stories, you could be forgiven for thinking that it contains a reprint of H.G. Wells’ classic The Invisible Man — I mean, Wells’ name is right on the cover!

That cover image, however, depicts a scene from a different story, “The Man Who Could Vanish,” by A. Hyatt Verrill, which is our next invisibility story to discuss!

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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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