Monday, January 12, 2009

The Martian Crown Jewels,” a Sherlockian Sci-Fi mystery by Poul Anderson

Originally published in the February 1958 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, “The Martian Crown Jewels,” by Poul Anderson, is a Sherlockian “locked room” science fiction mystery. The plot revolves around the theft of the Martian crown jewels (worth half a billion UN dollars), which are being transported back to Mars from Earth aboard the robot spaceship Jane Brackney. A seven-foot-tall Martian named Syaloch, the most renowned private detective on the Red Planet, is called upon to solve the case. One of the suspects: a technician named John Carter.

Here are the opening lines of the story:

"The signal was picked up when the ship was still a quarter million miles away, and recorded voices summoned the technicians. There was no haste, for the ZX28749, otherwise called the Jane Brackney, was right on schedule; but landing an unmanned spaceship is always a delicate operation. Men and machines prepared to receive her as she came down, but the control crew had the first order of business. ..."

Apparently, the SciFi Channel did an Internet radio adaptation of
The Martian Crown Jewels” for its Seeing Ear Theatre, which aired between 1997 and 2001. To my knowledge, that adaptation, which starred Bronson Pinchot as Syaloch, is not archived on the Internet.

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