Blog: Commentary from the den of a pulp super-fan

Eric Trent: a short-lived air-adventure series

Posted by at 10:00 am Monday, August 7, 2017 in Ace, Altus Press, Aviation Pulps, Review
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Eric Trent: a short-lived air-adventure series

The Complete Adventures of Eric TrentEric Trent was Donald Keyhoe‘s final serial air-adventure character in Flying Aces. More realistic than his previous character series (Richard Knight and Philip Strange), this short-lived series ran 12 stories from 1940-42.

Trent is an American who gets involved in Nazi plots and threats just before the U.S. entered World War II, and a bit after. He is not a formal agent, but more of a freelancer. He flies around and tries to sell the inventions of his associate, Mortimer Crabb. And they usually get involved with some plot or issue. As they aren’t agents, they have to extract themselves from the problem, including dealing with police and government agents who think they are part of the problem.

We don’t know too much about either man. Trent is described as dark haired with a “well trimmed” mustache. He used to be a magician’s assistant, and uses various magic tricks like sleigh-of-hand stuff with people. Clearly a man of action, Trent is not shy about jumping into things. Crabb is from Vermont, and your stereotypical reserved inventor. But he does lend a hand in the action as needed, though he will complain later. We know they have been working together for at least eight months before the first story.

And as this is an air-adventure series, there are always times when Trent and Mortimer are off in their plane fighting off the bad guys in some manner. That’s a given. Trent has a Douglas DC-3 in Europe, but after that flies an assortment of planes.

Because it’s a short-stories series, there are no other continuing characters. As each story is set in a different location, there can’t be any other regular characters like a policeman or secretary or love interest like in other series.

Now, I’ve only read the first six stories, published in the first of two collections, The Complete Adventures of Eric Trent, by Altus Press. (Frankly I think they could have put these into one big volume, but they maybe figured it might not sell as well.) The first three stories are set in Europe. These appeared just before Germany attacked Western Europe and through the time France surrendered and the British were pushed out.

Thus things shift back home with stories set in the Canal Zone, Atlanta, then Seattle and Alaska, but all are still dealing with Nazi threats, and in one also a Japanese threat.

I am curious to see how the stories go in the next volume, as they will come from the time we got into the war and a little afterwards. How is that going to affect the stories? Will Trent be drafted or be made a more formal agent? In an early story, he was offered a position with British Intelligence. We will have to see. And I wonder if the ongoing war make the series unworkable and this was why it ended?

But if you like a good air adventure series, this is a pretty decent one. Not as fantastic as his others, the most fantastic is Crabb’s inventions or some weapon of the enemy (like a gas that turns men into skeletons!), but enjoyable none the less.

What do you think?