“The South Pole Terror” first appeared in the October 1936 issue of Doc Savage Magazine.
Many of the elements found in this story first appeared in a previous adventure:
- All five of Doc’s men appear in the adventure.
- The story starts off with a female aviator who makes daring flights.
- There is a criminal gang with two prominent characters.
- The story locale involved a New York hotel, a passenger ship, and a secluded New England location.
- Doc and his men take a dirigible ride.
- Doc and his men follow a vehicle with an infra-ray light attached to it.
- The treasure is a fabulous source of natural riches deep within an extremely remote desert.
This same exact plot appeared in an earlier Doc Savage story – “The Lost Oasis.” This story debuted in October 1933.
- The female aviator Landy Nelia becomes Velma Crale. Lady Nelia became involved on a flight from Long to Cape Town. Velma Crale had
- The Yankee Beauty becomes the unnamed silver sloop.
- Yuttal and Hodi-Mot become Derrick Flammen and Cheaters Slagg
- The desert switches from the Sahara to the Antarctic
- The zeppelin changes from the Aeromunde to Doc’s own dirigible.
- The treasure changes from diamonds to platinum and gold.
- The gang’s New England locale moves from the deep woods of Maine to the rugged shore of Connecticut.
- In the former, Doc uses an infra-light to follow a car. In the later story, they follow an infra-light on Doc’s dirigible after Velma Crale steals it.
This is an excellent story and has some exciting passages at the climax.
The only question I have is why Velma Crale did not make a trip to the Crime College along with the rest of the gang?
“The South Pole Terror” shares some common items with the Operator #5 story, “Scourge of the Invisible Death” (November 1935). That story used a machine that allowed cosmic rays to penetrate the atmosphere with deadly results.
The Wikipedia entry describes the story thusly: “Scourge of the Invisible Death” (Vol. 5,4; November 1935) In which Christopher fights against a British secret society which wanted to bring America down with the villain dressing like a War of Independence (British) redcoat. The man used machines which could open up holes in our atmosphere allowing deadly cosmic rays from space to carry out his threats
Having recently read this story, I can state that the Wikipedia description is accurate.
In “The South Pole Terror,” Doc Savage answers Monk’s question: “Have an apparatus for changing the characteristics of a limited section of atmosphere above the earth to permit the entrance, through this atmosphere blanket, of the cosmic rays,” Doc finished. “This heat we feel is actually a bombardment of cosmic rays.”
Coming up with a new story plot and a gimmick every month had to be a genuine challenge.