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The ‘radio’ pulp of Ralph Milne Farley

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, April 18, 2016 in Pulps, Review, Science Fiction Pulps
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

The ‘radio’ pulp of Ralph Milne Farley

The Radio ManAn interesting and somewhat prolific pulp author is Ralph Milne Farley. While during his time he wrote a variety of science fiction pulps, most today know him for his “Radio Man” series.

Ralph Milne Farley is really the pseudonym for Roger Sherman Hoar (1887-1963). He was a state senator and assistant attorney general for Massachusetts. So writing was a side-line for him. He was mainly active from the 1920s into the 1940s, and wrote several novels and short stories. Several of his novels had the word “Radio” in them, though not all are interconnected.

As noted, his most well-known series is the “Radio Man” series, which focused on Myles Cabot and set on Venus. In many ways the series is similar to Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Mars series, and so Farley is sometimes considered another “rival” to Burroughs.

The series consists of:

  • The Radio Man (1924, also known as An Earthman on Venus)
  • The Radio Beasts (1925)
  • The Radio Planet (1926)
  • The Radio Menace (1930)
  • Radio Man Returns (1939)
  • The Radio Minds of Mars (1955)

The first three books comprise a trilogy. They tell of engineer Myles Cabot, who will experimenting with radio (all the rage in the 20s, hence the series name), transports himself to Venus. There he winds up on a continent with two intelligence species: the large ant-like Formians who rule over the humanoid Cupians who are blond and blue-eyed, but have vestigial insect wings on their backs and insect-like antennas. And neither race can hear or speak! They use their antennas to communicate with radio-waves. So Myles must rig up gear to duplicate this.

Like John Carter, Myles befriends with one of the Formains (like Carter with Tars Tarkin) and falls in love with a Cupian princess and is soon liberating them from the Formians, while dealing with the evil Prince Yuri. The second novel has an attempt to overthrow the new Cupian leadership by Prince Yuri, aided by giant bees. Myles leads an attack against the Formians, the rest leave the continent in airplanes. And Myles’ son will be the next heir to the throne.

The Radio PlanetThe third one has Myles returning to Earth, then returning to Venus, but on a different continent. He must contend with the Formian exiles, discovers a race of hairy humanoids called the Vairking, then a bizarre race called the Whoomangs, who are actually animals with a slug-like being in them which conveys sentience and intelligence. But are they set on conquest or not? Myles must fight them off as well.

The Radio Menace came a little later, and are about the Whoomangs, who have duplicated Myles’ radio transport technology and try to invade the Earth! But they are stopped by others. The Radio Man Returns is actually a short story staring Myles on Earth, dealing with terrorists. Then there is The Radio Minds of Mars, which was mainly published posthumously. Here Martians (who seem similar to the ones from H.G. Wells), try to invade Venus, and Myles must team up with the Whoomangs and the Variking to fight them off.

Now, he did write a few other “Radio” stories that weren’t part of the Radio Man series.

There are a pair that go together, Radio Flyers and Radio Gun-Runners. These are set in the Hollow Earth (similar as Burroughs’ Pellucidar series).

And then there is Radio War, which I understand is a future war novel set in 2000 and pits the U.S. against Soviet Siberia. So, clearly not part of the other “Radio” series.

As for availability, if you look around you can find reprints of the first Radio Man trilogy. Pulpville Press has reprinted many of Farley’s works. Altus Press has reprinted Radio Gun-Runners as part of their second series of reprints from Argosy. Radio Flyers was reprinted as part of the Famous Fantasy Classics series I had reviewed previously, which you can find if you look. So check out this author.

One Comment

  1. Very interesting article. I have the 3 volumes of the “trilogy” and love Farley’s work. I’ll try and find the others, now I know about them!