“One Was Stubborn” by L. Ron Hubbard

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“One Was Stubborn”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours

Every time I listen to one of these pulp fiction stories I get so lost in the story that I forget where I am.  I was driving around while listening to this book that I forgot completely where I was supposed to be going.  The audio production in these audio books is superb.  Everything from the acting, the incidental music and the sound effects are perfectly produced.

The voice acting in these stories carry the sound of the old fashioned radio shows with larger than life characters.  This comes a lot from the style of writing that L. Ron Hubbard used when writing for the pulps.  The characters and their dialogue at first may seem cheesy but when taken as a whole some of the stories just wouldn’t work without that cheese factor.  The cheese factor actually is what makes these stories fun, so don’t think of cheesy as a bad thing, quite the opposite.

The incidental music that occurs between chapters or sections in the story was composed specifically for the entire run of “Golden Age Stories” from Galaxy Audio.  Galaxy Audio has gathered all the short stories and novellas written by L. Ron Hubbard during the 30s through the 50s and have been releasing them as audio pulps.  (The audio books also have a paperback “pulp” version for those that want the books.)  The music is over the top and subtle at the same time, just plain perfect for these stories.

The sound effects are placed subtly throughout the stories.  They don’t overwhelm the listener with sound but they move the story along, at times I would hear the effects and appreciate the subtlety of letting me know when a rocket was blasting off, for example, but not detracting from the dialogue or narration.

This audio pulp consists of three stories from the golden age of pulp fiction.

“One Was Stubborn”
This story was originally published in Unknown Fantasy Fiction, October 1940,  under the pseudonym Rene La Fayette, and is a simple tale of a man unwilling to watch the world as he knows it vanish.  The main character, Old Shellback is the most stubborn man in the universe, he goes in for an eye exam but the doctor’s computer says he’s depressed and should see the new messiah that is changing the world.  Old Shellback simply wants glasses because he can’t believe what he is seeing.  The Messiah tells Shellback he needs to conform and believe everything or the entire world will not believe in him.  Once the population stops believing in Shellback everything disappears.  Shellback discovers that to create his world he needs to simply think it into existence and then believe in it.  The Messiah doesn’t want Shellback to re-create the world and tries to stop him.

“A Can of Vacuum”
Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, December 1949, is a fun story about practical jokes.  This one brought out some fun memories of my Navy days.  When someone was new to a ship the old salts would have fun with the newbie by sending them on errands that were basically practical jokes.  Errands like fetching a bucket of relative bearing grease.  All bearings need grease, but in the Navy a relative bearing is where an object is in relation to yourself or the ship.  Or maybe send the newbie after three feet of water line. The navy term “line” refers to rope or string, but the waterline is the point on the ship that above that line is above the water and below that line on the hull is below water.  Well in this story a new ensign assigned to as space station and sent to gather a quart of Rudy Rays.  The Chief that sends him on this fools errand is surprised when he finds the ensign blasting off into space.  Soon the rocket is lost and the chief is in trouble for sending the young man out alone as a practical joke, but the ensign comes back and the surprise is what happens next.

“240,000 Miles Straight Up”
Originally published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1948, tells the tale of the importance of the USA being the first to land on the moon.  After partying on the night before he is to be the first man on the moon, First Lieutenant Cannon “Angel” Gray, wakes up with a killer of a hangover.  Just as the rocket is about to launch the ground crew look up at the moon and see the letters “USSR” written on the moon.  The USA is not the first on the moon, it’s the Russians, this closes down the US space program, and soon the Russkies have nuclear missiles aimed at the earth, on the moon.  The USSR is then overthrown by the Commander on the moon and he soon calls himself the ruler of Earth.  When some supplies are needed, Angel is called to man a mission to the moon to possibly overthrow the leader.  Can the USA regain power, listen to this exciting tale and find out.

L. Ron Hubbard wrote many stories that were published in the old pulp magazines of the mid 20th century and thanks to Galaxy Audio (and Galaxy Press) these Golden Age Stories can be enjoyed today.