City of the Beast
First of the Michael Kane trilogy. Originally published under the pseudonym Edward P. Bradbury.
Publishing History (UK)
- Mass Market Paperback, Compact, 1965, Cover by James Cawthorn
- Mass Market Paperback, NEL, 128pp., ISBN: 0-450-00684-0, 1971, reprinted 1974
- Mass Market Paperback, NEL, 128pp., ISBN: 0-450-03319-8, Jun 1977, Cover by Tim White
Omnibus Publication (UK)
Publishing History (US)
- Mass Market Paperback, Lancer, 1966, Cover by Gray Morrow
- Mass Market Paperback, Lancer, ISBN: 0-447-72118-X, 1970, Cover by Kenneth Smith
- Mass Market Paperback, DAW, ISBN: 0-87997-436-2, Jan 1979, Cover by Richard Hescox
- Mass Market Paperback, Ace, ISBN: 0-441-87339-1, Mar 1991
- Paperback, Paizo Publishing, 160pp., ISBN: 1-60125-044-4, 15 Sep 2007, Cover by Andrew Hou
Omnibus Publication (US)
- Kane of Old Mars, White Wolf, 1998 (hc/tp)
Edward P. Bradbury is holidaying in the south of France when he encounters a striking stranger. Very tall, muscular and covered in fine scars he discovers his name is Michael Kane. Retiring to Bradbury's hotel room, Kane tells him his story.
Born in Chicago, Kane had a normal upbringing, except for the tutorship of his neighbour, M. Clarchet, a swordmaster, who instructed him in the use of all swords. Graduating college (where he excelled at fencing) he started work at the Chicago Physics Institute where he worked on a matter transmitter. When it was ready for human trials Kane volunteered to be the first subject. Supposed to be transported to another part of the Institute, he in fact materialises in on Mars (or Vashu, as the inhabitants call it) at the time of the dinosaurs on earth.
He thinks himself menaced by a strange creature, but discovers it is domesticated when he meets an inhabitant of, Varnal the nearby city. Shizala, leader of her people after her father, Carnak, went missing after a battle. Learning the language with the aid of an ancient machine, he falls in love with the peple and the place. Inadvertantly breaking a local custom because of his feelings for Shizala and the way her betrothed, Telem Fas Ogdai, is treating her, he flees into the local countryside of Karnala. He soon discovers that an army is on the march towards Varnal. Swiftly returning to the city, he twice encounters scouts for what he discovers is an army of Blue Giants. Slaying one, he spares the other and returns to the city to raise the alarm.
After helping repel the Argzoon attacks, While Telem Fas Ogdai goes to Mishim Tep for help, he resolves to attack the enemy commander in his tent. Borrowing a Sheev flying machine with Shizala as pilot, he flies over the enemy camp. After entering a tent and killing an Argzoon captain holding a female prisoner captive, he is forced to fight many more Blue Giants. Returning to the flying machine he discovers Shizala missing and flies into a rage, almost singlehandedly routing the invading armay. Finding no trace of Shizala, he resolves to follow the Argzoon army back to the Caves of Darkness, their home. Setting out with Darnad, Shizala's brother and a band of men, they are taken prisoner by the ruler of Narlet, a city of thieves. Managing to escape with the aid of some locals including Belet Vor, a friend of Darnad, Michael Kane and the rest depose the cruel leader, Chinod Sai, and put Marda Kohn in his place.
Travelling on Kane and Darnad finally pass through the Gates of Gor Delpus and enter the Black City. Sending Darnad back to get help, Kane is captured and learns that the woman in the tent he entered when the army beseiged Varnal, was Horghul, who was really controlling the Blue Giants with the unnatural power of her will. He is taken to be a sacrifice to Raharumara, a giant worm-like creature inhabiting the tunnels beneath the Caves of Darkness, whom the Blue Giants worchip as their god. With the unexpected help of the Blue Giant he spared as the army approched Varnal, he manages to kill the beast and leads a slave revolt. Leaving the captured remnants of a previous Karnalan expedition to fight their captors he seeks Shizala. He finds her in a tall tower being menaced by Telem Fas Ogdai, who has been under the spell of Horghul all the time. Learning this and that his feelings for Shizala are reciprocated, Michael Kane is forced to fight Telem Fas Ogdai and kill him. Finding that during the fight Horghul has gone missing, Kane goes outside and discovers the slave revolt has been successful, and that the leader of the slaves was none other than Shizala's father Carnak!
Making peace with them now that the Argzoon are no longer under the control of Horghul, the Karnalan's return home to Varnal. Just as Michael Kane and Shizala are about to be betrothed at a lavish ceremony, Kane is horrified to feel the effects of the matter transmitter on his body, and suddenly finds himself once more in his Chicago laboratory. After attempting to explain what had happened to him he is taken off the project and finds himself with no way of attempting to return to Vashu. Wandering aimless and heartbroken he eventually meets Bradbury in France.
"They are homages, or parodies, if you prefer, of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I set them in the Martian past because it was not possible by then to set them on Burroughs's Mars. I did them for fun in nine days. In 1965. In the final book I have the hero actually ACTING according to Burroughs stated ideals, which Burroughs's heroes never do, because of expediency or whatever, which meant he could neither blame nor kill in many circumstances and there is a sort of causatory trail back to some symbolic first cause which I must admit I forget since I haven't read them myself. They were done for fun in the hope the reader would enjoy them in the same way. I got around $700 for all three in 1965 and never expected to see a penny more (not bad for nine days work, after all, in 1965). The book was for quite a while my biggest earning title and in the library records done in the UK for the public library borrowings, the omnibus always came out as second best-borrowed to whatever the new one was. So there you go. Still earning. And my father's favourite books of mine until the day he died. Not bad for nine days of light work, eh ?"