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The Bluff of the Hawk   By:

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This etext was produced from Astounding Stories May 1932. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

[Illustration: Nothing there could withstand him. ]

The Bluff of the Hawk

By Anthony Gilmore

[Sidenote: "A trick? Carse was famed for them. A trap? But how?"]

Had not old John Sewell, the historian, recognized Hawk Carse for what he was a creator of new space frontiers, pioneer of vast territories for commerce, molder of history through his long feud with the powerful Eurasian scientist, Ku Sui the adventurer would doubtless have passed into oblivion like other long forgotten spacemen. We have Sewell's industry to thank for our basic knowledge of Carse. His "Space Frontiers of the Last Century" is a thorough work and the accepted standard, but even it had of necessity to be compressed, and many meaty episodes of the Hawk's life go almost unmentioned. For instance, Sewell gives a rough synopsis of "The Affair of the Brains," but dismisses its aftermath entirely, in the following fashion (Vol. II, pp. 25O 251):

"... there was only one way out: to smash the great dome covering one end of the asteroid and so release the life sustaining air inside. Captain Carse achieved this by sending the space ship Scorpion crashing through the dome unmanned, and he, Friday and Eliot Leithgow were caught up in the out rushing flood of air and catapulted into space, free of the dome and Dr. Ku Sui. Clad as they were in the latter's self propulsive space suits, they were quite capable of reaching Jupiter's Satellite III, only some thirty thousand miles away.

"Then speeding through space, Captain Carse discovered why he had never been able to find the asteroid stronghold. He could not see it! Dr. Ku Sui had protected his lair by making it invisible! But Carse was at least confident that by breaking the dome he had destroyed all life within in, including the coordinated brains.

"So ended The Affair of the Brains.[1]

"The three comrades reached Satellite III safely, where, after a few minor adventures, Captain Carse...."

[Footnote 1: See the March, 1932, Issue of Astounding Stories.]

Sewell's ruthless surgery is most evident in that last paragraph. Of course his telescoping of the events was due to limited space; but he did wish to draw a full length, character revealing portrait of Hawk Carse, and with "... reached Satellite III safely, where, after a few minor adventures, Captain Carse ..." learned old John Sewell slid over one of his greatest opportunities.

The resourcefulness of Hawk Carse! In these "few minor adventures" he had but one weapon with which to joust against overwhelming odds on an apparently hopeless quest. This weapon was a space suit nothing more yet so brilliantly and daringly did he wield its unique advantages that he penetrated seemingly impregnable barriers and achieved alone what another man would have required the ray batteries of a space fleet to do.

But here is the story, heard first from Friday's lips and told and re told down through the years on the lonely ranches of the outlying planets, of that one dark, savage night on Satellite II and of the indomitable man who winged his lone way through it. Hawk Carse! Old adventurer! Rise from your unknown star girdled grave and live again!

Thirty thousand miles was the gap between Dr. Ku Sui's asteroid and Satellite III, the nearest haven. Thirty thousand miles in a space ship is about the time of a peaceful cigarro. Thirty thousand miles in a cramped awkward space suit grow into a nightmare journey, an eternity of suffering, and they will kill a good number of those who traverse them so... Continue reading book >>




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