We know of at least two highly advanced scientific ideas that existed in the sunken city of Taz. One was the breathing compound around which much of the story revolved. The other was the plaque describing mental telepathy, which Doc Savage examined in the Central Science Library. Doc Savage slowly translates the record which is a description of a machine to read minds! It is exactly the premise upon which “The Midas Man” (August 1936) is developed. In that story, we encounter one Hando Lancaster, purported inventor of such a device. Throughout the story we are lambasted with Lancaster’s lamentations about his life’s work being stolen away.
Eventually, Doc Savage catches up with Lancaster and gains access to the mysterious device. What is the first thing out of Doc’s mouth upon examining the extraordinary machine? “Your life’s work, eh?” Doc asked.
“Eh” — that sounds like sarcasm to me. Why would Doc strike such an attitude? Because Hando Lancaster was not the striking inventor he purported to be. Granted he showed a certain amount of intellect but he had not invented the mind reading device. Rather, he had simply followed the instructions as described on the Taz tablet.
Let us go back to “Mystery Under The Sea“ (February 1936) at the sunken city of Taz. The mental telepathy plate that Doc and Seaworthy had examined was in the process of being packed for removal. Obviously this plate was not lost but was removed from the city. And while it seems that Captain Flamingo and his gang were all annihilated by Topping, it also appears that Seaworthy’s entire crew managed to escape. It would not be a major feat to secrete the telepathy plate in a safe place for later recovery. We also know that Doc and his men stayed around for a full thirty days after the disaster in an attempt to salvage the records stored therein.
It would be logical to assume that some type of accord was reached between Seaworthy and Doc Savage such that Seaworthy’s crew assisted in the salvage operation. Recovering the mental telepathy plate and smuggling it back to civilization would be a simple feat if men were going back and forth between the Caribbenda.
My guess is that Seaworthy was not involved in this maneuver. Instead, one of the crewmen was acting independently. Probably it was someone who knew who enough about the prior plates and how to get them deciphered. Someone who had high expectations from the expedition only to see it all come to ruin. This was one fellow who had decided he was not coming home empty handed.
Finally, let us not forget that Seaworthy was once Captain Flamingo’s second in command according to Diamond Eve Post who financed the expedition, So you can see the crewmen we are talking about are all cut somewhat from the same cloth. Seaworthy and Diamond Eve Post certainly were not motivated by altruistic ideals. It is doubtful that the crew embodied any of these selfless emotions.
Going back to “The Midas Man” and the story’s culmination we find that Hando Lancaster has a secret laboratory on an old ship that is part of the war-time fleet tied up in Chesapeake Bay. This maritime hideout strengthens the connection between some renegade mariner on Seaworthy’s crew and the current gang running around in The Midas Man. Someone had to know about these old ships and have enough knowledge about them to know that they would make a first-rate hideout.
There also seems to be a lot going on that the reader is not aware of. The first odd thing is Doc’s perusal of the president’s chair at the Castello Mining Corporation. The only link Doc had to telepathy was his little visit with Hando Lancaster. He knew nothing of Johnny’s experience. Doc looks the room over and selects the chair for examination. “We will examine that chair closely,” Doc Savage said.
That’s it — just a look over the room and straight for the chair. Does it strike anyone that this an odd place to start a search? It would be unless you already had a pretty good idea of what you were searching for.
Then we get to the part in the story where the villains learn that Doc Savage has already figured out the entire scheme and even knows who the boss is. At the story’s conclusion Monk queries Doc about the villain’s identity. Doc Savage explains that the suicide of Lancaster’s business partner Castello points the finger of suspicion in his direction.
Now Lancaster might have been under suspicion but that hardly squares with the statement the clandestine mind readers gave when they discovered Doc had it already figured out. Obviously Doc Savage knows a lot more about this entire situation and Hando Lancaster in particular than he is letting on. In recovering the errant plates Seaworthy took away from Taz on his first visit, Doc encountered clues that pointed to the mental telepathy plate. Subsequent investigations put him on the trail of Hando Lancaster and brought about the ensuing events detailed in “The Midas Man.”
But that is not the end of Doc’s secret connection with Taz. Let us return to the amazing sunken city of Taz. What do we know from this? First that the boxes the plates are stored in contain many plates. Secondly, that one plate alone can be very valuable. That leads us to believe that the entire scientific process is documented on that one plate. Lastly and perhaps most importantly we learn that Seaworthy took a “set” of plates back with him on his first visit.
Now exactly what constitutes a “set” could be the subject of much debate. My guess is that it would be one of the cases like the one Doc examined. So it does not seem too far a stretch of the imagination to think that Seaworthy might have many valuable plates in his possession. What other information could be contained within those metal plates? Moving on to November 1936 in the Doc Savage universe we arrive at the events recorded in “Resurrection Day.” Doc explains that he can bring one man back to life and the process requires chemicals that take years to refine. But is this really true? Does it actually take ten years to ferment this elixir of life? Perhaps this is only a cover story. If in fact such a process existed and was readily available there would be a stampede of people digging up cemeteries in the hopes of restoring life to a deceased loved one. Chaos would result from such a situation. Was it also a coincidence that this amazing scientific discovery came about after Doc’s undersea adventure in Taz?
We know Seaworthy had several plates. At the story’s conclusion Doc returns to the Caribbenda to find that his men have everyone captive and under armed guard. Seaworthy is not in a position to exert much influence at this point. My supposition is that Doc Savage took possession of the remaining plates once they returned stateside. The resurrection formula was on one of the plates. Exactly how Doc got the plates from Seaworthy and Diamond Eve Post is another issue. That could have occurred in any manner of ways from a voluntary action up to a “visit” to the Crime College.
Those missing plates were simply too dangerous to remain unaccounted for. Based on the two plates we do know about — the breathing formula, and telepathy — it just would not be prudent to not recover them. In some ways the Central Science Library of Taz was a precursor to Doc Savage’s own Fortress of Solitude. Just as Doc would later recover the missing devices John Sunlight took from the Fortress, so too would he recover the missing plates Seaworthy possessed.
That wraps it up for another Secret Sequel.