Martin O'Hearn


CODE NAME: THE TROLL

Another world with another history exists alongside our own.

cover: view of airship Hindenburg at landing field--and, breaking through from elsewhere, view of Hindenburg aflame

Robin Pace steps through the gateway into another time more than once in the course of a fantastic adventure. Newly arrived in 1937 New York, she’s drawn into the fight against the enemy agent code-named the Troll. She and adventurer King Hudson chase the Troll to Nazi Germany, seeking to foil his theft of an American super-weapon that hasn’t been invented yet. An earlier exposure to the energies of the gateway has left the Troll and Hudson a little more than human, Robin finds—and it looks like she isn’t immune.

Finally, thinking her part in the fight over, Robin boards the airship Hindenburg to return to the U.S.A. According to our history books, when the zeppelin comes in for a landing in New Jersey in three days, it will crash, consumed in flame.

The history books may not have all the facts of the disaster straight, but make no mistake: Robin Pace is taking off on the last flight of the Hindenburg.

For the Uninitiated

The Terrible Troll can stand alone without the reader’s familiarity with its inspirations, I think, but it does have those inspirations. The most important is Doc Savage.

Doc Savage pulp first issue cover

To its fans “pulp fiction” is specifically genre fiction from the pulps—the fiction magazines published on cheap pulp paper in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Quentin Tarantino and eBay sellers have widened the term to a meaningless catch-all meaning “sensational fiction,” but that’s as helpful as a grocery store’s labeling all fruits apples.

The best-remembered pulp magazine were the hero pulps: Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider, Captain Future, Texas Rangers, Jungle Stories and many more. Month after month in their heyday, the Thirties and Forties, they presented novels of larger-than-life heroes.

Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, written by Lester Dent and a few others under the house name “Kenneth Robeson,” ran from 1933 to 1949. That's 181 novels, released monthly for the better part of the run. The entire set of novels was reprinted in paperback by Bantam from the mid-60s into the early 90s.

The original novels are being reprinted by Sanctum Books.

The Inspiration
Bantam paperback cover of "The Land of Terror"

The first Doc I read was the Bantam paperback The Land of Terror, borrowed from another kid. I took a few days to read it (unusually slow for me), but before I finished, at school he casually mentioned, “Of course I guessed So-and-So was the villain.” No spoiler alert there! I borrowed The Mystic Mullah and read it quickly enough to escape a repeat. I started buying the series with the next book, Fear Cay, and by the end of the year had filled in with the entire series to that point. A few decades later, I bought the last Doc Savage reprint.

As the original magazine series outlasted the Thirties and ran into the Forties, with tastes changing, the editors decided to make the series more sophisticated. Doc went from a larger-than-life superman to a “science detective.” The supercriminals of the Thirties passed from the scene. If there's any Doc Savage fan who thinks the later stories improved on the earlier ones, I’d be amazed. My King Hudson is a tribute to the unashamedly pulp Doc Savage.