The Platinum Planetoid

By Morris Dollens

Published in The Science Fiction Collector May 1, 1936

Volume 1, Number 1


The red disc of mars loomed large in the television screen as Dan Stuart and Tom Gering, the lone occupants of the tiny space-flyer gazed into it. In a few hours they would land on that red sphere, after a fifteen-million mile journey through space.


The two young adventurers had started from Earth two weeks before, planning to take movies of the recently discovered jungle in northern Mars


Suddenly a dark spot on the screen blotted out a small patch of stars and continued to grow every minute. Upon looking through the telescope, Tom found it was a meteor. It was approaching them at such a speed that at the speed they were going they couldn’t hope to avoid a collision.


Don checked their speed and found that they would crash in about three minutes.


As there was only one way to save the space ship from annihilation, and that was to disintegrate the meteor before they collided with it, the two men got into their space suits.


Tom disintegrated a hole in the hull of the ship. The huge rock was now only a short distance away; so he turned on full power. Slowly the great rock dissolved before their eyes. Then, when there was only a small piece of the rock left, the disintegrator battery gave out.


The remains of the meteor came rushing towards them, and glanced off the side of the ship.


Although no damage came to the ship, the bump had sent Don sprawling into the controls, and he had accidentally pressed on the rocket valve, sending a tremendous burst of fuel into the rockets.


The ship steadied itself, and the two men grabbed for the fuel control, but too late; the rocket tubes in the rear blew out and melted. There was still fuel in the forward tubes;

But they were only for landing, unless they wanted to ride backwards. All they could do was wait until something stopped their flight.


Then upon looking out the hole they had disintegrated, they saw that the collision had thrown them off their course and they were headed towards the Asteroids. Their only hope was to try to land on one of them.


After welding a piece of metal over the hole, they took off their space armor.


On past mars they sped and soon the red planet was far behind. A few small rocks now and then indicated they were entering the belt of asteroids. Later the rocks became larger.


Then directly before them was a large planetoid which looked to be two-hundred miles in diameter. However, it was very dense and had a strong gravitational field.


Tom turned on the decelerating rockets and the space ship slowed down. Soon they were in the planet’s atmosphere and mountains, rivers and valleys discernible. They were headed for a small valley but a couple of hundred feet up the fuel in the forward rocket tubes gave out.


The rocket ship crashed to the ground, splitting in two at the impact. In returning to conscience the two earthlings found that they were in a small valley, which ended in a sheer wall on one end, the other end also being closed up, but containing an entrance to a cave. The two men decided that the only way to get out of the valley was thru the cave if it opened to the outside. So, taking their directional oscillators, which vibrated at all wavelengths, included which were all radio, light, ultra-violet, heat, x-rays and cosmic disintegrator rays, Tom and Dan started toward the huge cave entrance.


At the end of the cave was the beginning of a tunnel roughly carved out of the rock, probably by some ancient underground river. They followed the tunnel to its end.


Before them they saw a city so colorful that a fairy city was a dirt hovel compared to this palace. Buildings were round, cubical, hexagonal, triangular.


In the center of the city stood a tall building at least twice as high as the others, colored blue and red. At the top was a silver-colored globe which evidently served as a night light, as it was glowing faintly in the morning sunlight


There was no sign of life in the city; a road led from the mouth of the tunnel to the gate in the wall around the city. Tom and Don started toward the city on this road.


When they came within a few feet of the gates, the huge doors opened, as if by some mysterious automatic device. Determined to see that was in the city, the two men walked in; the gate closed behind them. Still they saw no living things except a small animal resembling a lion, but probably much tamer, as it rubbed against their legs like a cat would do.


As they walked down the street, a door in one of the buildings opened and a man stepped out. He looked like an ordinary Earth man except for his clothes. On his weird hat he wore a star, six-pointed, with characters on it.


“He must be someone with authority,” said Tom, as he noted the peculiar marks.


Dan turned to the man and said, “Who are you? What city is this? What planet are we on?” He never thought that the man didn’t understand him. In answer, the man motioned for them to follow him.


He took them down a long hall, into a small electrical apparatus-filled room. The two men from earth were motioned to sit in two chairs; on the back of each was a peculiar headset. These were placed on their heads. The man then went over to a small switchboard, and manipulated the controls. Queer sensations went through the Earthling’s heads.


To be continued in the next issue




The Platinum Planetoid

Part Two

By Morris Dollens

Published in The Science Fiction Collector May 21, 1936

Volume 1, Number 2


Dom Stuart and Tom Gering were suddenly dizzy; then a feeling of weightlessness crept upon them. A few minutes later this disappeared, and they perceived that they had been sleeping. The inhabitant of the city took the two queer helmets off of them , and spoke.


“Welcome to Diana, our little planetoid. I am Dortex, chief electrician of this city, Telain. You learned our language from the, thought-machine., by which we teach all our people. Of course, you don’t see any people around now; they are sleeping. Now tell me about yourselves.”


They told him of space-travel and of the many marvels of Earth.


“You have telescopes, don’t you?” asked Tom.


“Yes,” said Dortex:”; “come, I’ll show you one of them.”


Up in the highest room of the highest building in the city, Dortex soon had an image on the two-foot telescope screen. It was of a rock about twenty-five feet in diameter.


Then the scene changed to a larger planetoid. This one, only a few miles in diameter, surely never held any life.


Again the scene shifted; this time to an asteroid covered with small metal buildings, from which could be seen emerging little spidery animals with wings of transparent greenish material. Dortex said that he hoped to establish a communication with them before long.


“Have you any suggestions?” asked Dortex, when he had ended the exhibition.


“On Earth,” said Don, “We have similar telescopes, although they are more complicated than your model. They reproduce the pictures in color with depth. When we get back to Earth, we’ll send some experts back here to help you in your problems.”


Which reminds me of our broken space ship in the other valley,” Tom said. “Don’t forget we can’t even get back to Earth until we get more fuel and our blown-out rocket tubes repaired.”


“What do you men need to repair your ship?” asked Dortex. “If we have any thing you need we will be glad to give it to you.


The rocket tubes were thickly plated with platinum, a costly metal on Earth,”


“Why, platinum is our most plentiful metal. We could make you a whole new ship out of it!”


Noticing that Don and Tom were tired, Dortex submitted them to a pleasantly refreshing ray, which he explained, was a ray to give them as much rest in a few seconds as would ordinarily get in as many hours. Having nothing to do during the night most people of the planet Diana took their rest in the ordinary way. This accounted for Dortex meeting the visitors from Earth at such an odd hour. Dortex said.


“I have arranged for us to go on a hunt today, if you would care to go. In a little valley a couple of miles away we hunt for Duaks. Although we usually eat compressed and synthetic foods, we have every twenty five days a feast of this animal’s flesh. Here are clean clothes in the next room, and you may go and change into them now.”


An hour later found Tom and Don, Dortex and seventeen other men and women in a little valley lined with caves. The party was on the ……. Con Duaks. The animals lived in the caves and came out only for food. One man had to climb up to a cave and chase a Duak out with his spear. The beasts were afraid of people and never hurt a person unless it was cornered, and then it became fierce and sometimes killed its offender.


Suddenly the earthlings saw their first Duak. It was three feet in diameter with a three-foot “arm” with a one-foot globe on the end of it. The two globes each had tentacles like that of an octopus:


Quickly the chase began; over ridges, through creeks, up and down slopes, they followed the animal, which used it’s tentacles as legs. At last it was cornered. A young woman stepped a few feet forward and threw her spear straight toward it.


The weapon stuck and the beast let out a roar. It jumped at the girl and grabbed her between two of its tentacles.


“It’s going to eat her alive!” one of the party shouted.


“Not if I can help it,” said Don. He set his oscillator ray gun and set it so it would shoot Super-Gamma rays, which would destroy the life in the uncontrollable beast. Then he pointed the weapon at the largest part of the beast’s body and pulled the trigger. A faint crackling of the air, and a six-inch hole appeared to form on the creature’s side. A moment later the grip on the girl loosened and the animal dropped dead.


Duna, the girl who had been captured by the beast, seemed to take a sudden liking to this alien visitor who had saved her life without even touching her attacker. She went over to Don and spoke.


“I shall never forget you,” she said. “You saved my life, for which I am grateful. And---if you don’t mind, could I go back with you to the place where you came from?”


“Why, of course you can go,” Don answered. “We’d be glad to have you along.” He felt a strange attraction to the girl.


This story will be concluded in the next issue, which will be out about June 14, 1936, or before. All of your comments will be appreciated. Thank you


The Platinum Planetoid

Part III Conclusion

By Morris Dollens

Published in The Science Fiction Collector June 14, 1936

Volume 1, Number 2


Back in the city, Dortex took the earthlings to see the city’s platinum supply. It was in an underground room about a block square.


“There must be about a billion dollars worth of metal here,” exclaimed Tom in amazement.


“Yes, in your money,” Dortex answered. “But, as I have already said it is our most plentiful metal. We have very little of the metal you know as iron; that is the reason you don’t see any electric lights, because we need the metal for other things than electrical generators, and batteries aren’t practical. For illumination we use a specially painted paper which glows, even in the dark. The only electricity we use is in experiments and such. The huge, metal ball on the tower in the center of the city is made of special gold and platinum alloy which emanates a brilliant light at night, having absorbed light in the daytime.


Days followed during which they supervised the construction of five huge space ships to carry platinum to Earth, in trade for iron.


Then one day when the rocket ships were all finished, Dortex rushed into the temporary factory where Tom and Don were.


“I’ve just discovered an asteroid about fifty of your miles in diameter headed directly towards our planet,” he explained.


“It will hit our planet in about twenty days,” Dortex continued. “We’ll all be killed unless we can build enough space ships to carry our whole population to safety on some other planet. There are five thousand people in this city. It took us seven days to build the five ships and we  can get 100 people in each. Still, we’d need about fifty space ships and we have only five.


“why not bring some people to nearby planetoids?” suggested tom


“We could do that too,” Dortex replied, “but the explosion would send rocks flying upon unprotected people on any planetoid within a half-million miles. But why not build trailers? The rocket motors take the longest time to make, but we won’t have to make any for the trailers.”


So it was decided to build trailers for the five space ships and work was begun on them at once. Each day the onrushing asteroid seemed to grow larger and larger in the sky. The people were very excited and wondered if they were to be saved from the oncoming doom.


Then, five days before the collision was to take place the inhabitants of the city entered the rocket ships and the trailers, which started away from the doomed planet.


When they were out in space, Dortex looked back at his home through the ship’s telescope. To his amazement, he saw another planetoid crash into the asteroid which had threatened Diana. A soundless explosion took place as the two mighty rocks came together amid shooting flames of atomic fire.


For a long time, Dortex gazed at the ruins of the asteroids. Then he realized what had happened. His world had been saved! Now they could go back to Diana and live there.


He went forward to the control room and told the Earthlings what had happened. Swiftly, the five ships turned around and sped back to their home planetoid.


The Dianians gave a great feast in honor of Tom and Don, and when it was over Duma came to them and said:


“Don, let’s go to your planet now. I want to see how your people live.”


So Don Stuart, Tom Gering, Dortex and Durna all entered one of the space ships, and beyond the atmosphere, headed for Earth. After setting the controls, they went back to the rear of the rocket to view the receding Diana.


“Dura and Don were locked in each other’s arms and gazing out of a porthole. Tom whispered quietly to Dortex


“Let’s go back to the control room,” he said. “I’m quite sure they want to be alone with each other.




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