Saturday, February 20, 2010

“Mars Confidential," 1953 short story written by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer

Thanks to the industrious folks at Project Gutenberg and, you can read online or download for free “Mars Confidential,” a short story written by Jack Lait and Lee Mortimer (pseudonym of Harold Browne). Originally published in the April-May 1953 issue of Amazing Stories magazine, the plot revolves around two investigative journalists who travel to the Red Planet to expose the Mafia and its vice, violence and victims that have made “this heavenly body the cesspool of the Universe.” Here are the opening lines of the story:


HERE WE GO AGAIN -- Confidential.

We turned New York inside out. We turned Chicago upside down. In Washington we turned the insiders out and the outsiders in. The howls can still be heard since we dissected the U.S.A.

But Mars was our toughest task of spectroscoping. The cab drivers spoke a different language and the bell-hops couldn't read our currency. Yet, we think we have X-rayed the dizziest -- and this may amaze you -- the dirtiest planet in the solar system. Beside it, the Earth is as white as the Moon, and Chicago is as peaceful as the Milky Way.

By the time we went through Mars -- its canals, its caves, its satellites and its catacombs -- we knew more about it than anyone who lives there.

We make no attempt to be comprehensive. We have no hope or aim to make Mars a better place in which to live; in fact, we don't give a damn what kind of a place it is to live in.

This will be the story of a planet that could have been another proud and majestic sun with a solar system of its own; it ended up, instead, in the comic books and the pulp magazines.

We give you MARS CONFIDENTIAL! ...

Pictured: April-May 1953 issue of Amazing Stories, depicting a scene in “Mars Confidential." Artwork by Barye Phillips.

[via Tinkoo Valia of Variety SF]


Dave Felton said...

Thanks for the information.

I never knew PG covered SF as I haven't visited it inages.

Paul said...

Dave, thanks for the comment. Project Gutenberg is still adding lots of great stuff on a regular basis.