The Fire People

Science Fiction Lengend

Book 39
VM eBooks
1
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Chapter I.

THE COMING OF THE LIGHT.

The first of the new meteors landed on the earth in November, 1940. It was discovered by a farmer in his field near Brookline, Massachusetts, shortly after daybreak on the morning of the 11th. Astronomically, the event was recorded by the observatory at Harvard as the sudden appearance of what apparently was a new star, increasing in the short space of a few hours from invisibility to a power beyond that of the first magnitude, and then as rapidly fading again to invisibility. This star was recorded by two of the other great North American observatories, and by one in the Argentine Republic. That it was comparatively small in mass and exceedingly close to the earth, even when first discovered, was obvious. All observers agreed that it was a heavenly body of an entirely new order.

The observatory at Harvard supplemented its account by recording the falling, just before dawn of the 11th, of an extraordinarily brilliant meteor that flamed with a curious red and green light as it entered the earth's atmosphere. This meteor did not burn itself out, but fell, still retaining its luminosity, from a point near the zenith, to the horizon.

What the farmer saw was a huge fire burning near the center of his field. It was circular in form and about thirty feet in diameter. He was astonished to see it there, but what surprised him more was its peculiar aspect.

It was still the twilight of dawn when he reached the field. He beheld the fire first from a point several hundred yards away. As he explained it, the light--for it was more aptly described as a light than a fire--extended in parallel rays from the ground directly upward into the sky. He could see no line of demarkation where it ended at the top. It seemed to extend into the sky an infinite distance. It was, in fact, as though an enormous searchlight were buried in his field, casting its beam of light directly upward.

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About the author

Ray Cummings (byname of Raymond King Cummings; August 30, 1887 – January 23, 1957) was an American author of science fiction, rated one of the "founding fathers of the science fiction pulp genre". He was born in New York and died in Mount Vernon, New York.

Cummings worked with Thomas Edison as a personal assistant and technical writer from 1914 to 1919. His most highly regarded work was the novel The Girl in the Golden Atom published in 1922, which was a consolidation of a short story by the same name published in 1919 (where Cummings combined the idea of Fitz James O'Brien's The Diamond Lens with H. G. Wells's The Time Machine) and a sequel, The People of the Golden Atom, published in 1920. His career resulted in some 750 novels and short stories, using also the pen names Ray King, Gabrielle Cummings, and Gabriel Wilson.

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Additional Information

Publisher
VM eBooks
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Published on
Jan 21, 2016
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Pages
190
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Fantasy / General
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Science Fiction / General
Literary Collections / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Chapter I

The New Murders

I was standing fairly close to the President of the Anglo-Saxon Republic when the first of the new murders was committed. The President fell almost at my feet. I was quite certain then that the Venus man at my elbow was the murderer. I don't know why, call it intuition if you will. The Venus man did not make a move; he merely stood beside me in the press of the throng, seemingly as absorbed as all of us in what the President was saying.

It was late afternoon. The sun was setting behind the cliffs across the river. There were perhaps a hundred and fifty thousand people within sight of the President, listening raptly to his words. It was at Park Sixty, and I was standing on the Tenth Level.[1] The crowd packed all twelve of the levels; the park was black with people. The President stood on a balcony of the park tower. He was no more than a few hundred feet above me, well within direct earshot. Around him on all sides were the electric megaphones which carried his voice to all parts of the audience. Behind me, a thousand feet overhead, the main aerials were scattering it throughout the city, I suppose five million people were listening to the voice of the President at that moment. He had just said that we must remain friendly with Venus; that in our enlightened age controversies were inevitable, but that they should be settled with sober thought--around the council table. This talk of war was ridiculous. He was denouncing the public news-broadcasters; moulders of public opinion, who every day--every hour--must offer a new sensation to their millions of subscribers.

He had reached this point when without warning his body pitched forward. The balcony rail caught it; and it hung there inert. The slanting rays of the sun fell full upon the ruffled white shirt; white, but turning pink, then red, with the crimson stain welling out from beneath.

Chapter I

The New Murders

I was standing fairly close to the President of the Anglo-Saxon Republic when the first of the new murders was committed. The President fell almost at my feet. I was quite certain then that the Venus man at my elbow was the murderer. I don't know why, call it intuition if you will. The Venus man did not make a move; he merely stood beside me in the press of the throng, seemingly as absorbed as all of us in what the President was saying.

It was late afternoon. The sun was setting behind the cliffs across the river. There were perhaps a hundred and fifty thousand people within sight of the President, listening raptly to his words. It was at Park Sixty, and I was standing on the Tenth Level.[1] The crowd packed all twelve of the levels; the park was black with people. The President stood on a balcony of the park tower. He was no more than a few hundred feet above me, well within direct earshot. Around him on all sides were the electric megaphones which carried his voice to all parts of the audience. Behind me, a thousand feet overhead, the main aerials were scattering it throughout the city, I suppose five million people were listening to the voice of the President at that moment. He had just said that we must remain friendly with Venus; that in our enlightened age controversies were inevitable, but that they should be settled with sober thought--around the council table. This talk of war was ridiculous. He was denouncing the public news-broadcasters; moulders of public opinion, who every day--every hour--must offer a new sensation to their millions of subscribers.

He had reached this point when without warning his body pitched forward. The balcony rail caught it; and it hung there inert. The slanting rays of the sun fell full upon the ruffled white shirt; white, but turning pink, then red, with the crimson stain welling out from beneath.

To anyone interested in the roots of modern science fiction, the name of Ray Cummings should be well known. He wrote science fiction and fantasy before the name "science fiction" had been coined, publishing fantastic yarns in Argosy, Munsey's Magazine, and other mainstream pulp magazines. Of course, as soon as the science fiction pulps debuted, he moved to them, where his work received a hearty welcome from fans. Cummings publishing more than 750 novels and short stories over his long career, producing work in many genres, including the mystery field (see "Atom Boy" in this Megapack for one prime example). We are pleased to showcase 25 of his tales, ranging from science fiction to fantasy to mystery...more than 1,500 pages of great reading!

Included are:

THE GIRL IN THE GOLDEN ATOM (1919-1920)
THE GIRL IN THE GOLDEN ATOM, PART 2
THE SILVER VEIL (1921)
THE FIRE PEOPLE (1922)
TWO PROPOSALS (1923)
JETTA OF THE LOWLANDS (1930)
THE WHITE INVADERS (1931)
REQUIEM FOR A SMALL PLANET (1958)
BRIGANDS OF THE MOON (1931)
WANDL THE INVADER (1932)
TARRANO THE CONQUEROR (1930)
PHANTOMS OF REALITY (1930)
DR. FEATHER IN "A SHOT IN THE DARK" (1936)
DR. FEATHER IN "MURDER IN THE FOG" (1937)
DR. FEATHER IN "THE DEAD MAN LAUGHS" (1938)
DR. FEATHER IN "CLUE IN CRIMSON" (1943)
THE WORLD BEYOND (1938)
GADGET GIRL (1944)
PRECIPICE (1945)
PHOTOGRAPH OF DEATH (1945)
STAMP OF DOOM (1946)
THE SCALPEL OF DOOM (1947)
ATOM BOY (1947)
THE LIFTED VEIL (1947)
BEYOND THE VANISHING POINT (1958)
THE GIRL FROM INFINITE SMALLNESS (1940)
PLANET STORIES' FEATURE FLASH: MEET RAY CUMMINGS

And don't forget to search this ebook store for "Wildside Megapack" to see more entries in the series, covering science fiction, fantasy, horror, mysteries, westerns -- and much, much more!

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