1934-07 The Thousand-Headed Man

Cover Date: July 1934
Volume 3 # 5
Copyright Date: June 15, 1934
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
WHMC: The collection contains nine folders for this story, f.179-187
Recurring Characters. The entire Iron Crew are all present in this story.

The Thousand-Headed Man by Kenneth Robeson
The Pigeon-Blood Rubies by Jay J. Kalez
Revolt in the Jungle by Richard Wormser
The Lone Traveler
Hunts Fossils by Airplane

Doc Savage Club
No Distinctions in Our Club
Sea Miners
“Black Ivory”
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Alice Hogue, Kentucky
Thomas Leddon, Maryland

Doc’s trip from London to Indochina mentions a stop in Abyssinia before heading across India. A few paragraphs later Afghanistan is mentioned. Undoubtedly the first reference should have also been Afghanistan.

A large part of the story takes place in Indochina. This is a region that today comprises Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The entire region has many ruins, ancient cities, and areas of archeological interest. A short list would include The Plain of Jars, Temple of Preah Vihear, and Angkor Wat. Of particular interest to readers of “The Thousand-Head Man” is the Bayon temple in Angkor Thom which is covered with massive carving of heads.

The idea of the vaporized snake venom from spitting cobras is very much akin to that latter used in “The Mystic Mullah” (January 1935).

Jati wood is mentioned. It is teak, a tropical hardwood rich in natural oils and prized for marine construction.

Indigo uses a steel weight tied to a leather thong to knock out his victims. This is a precursor to the killing device used in “The Fantastic Island.”

The inspiration for this story appears to have originated in several places. There are a multitude of newspaper articles dealing with lost cities in the jungles of Indochina. To be sure, this was not a new idea as this clipping from 1904 shows.

Noted hunter and animal collector Frank Buck wrote a series of interesting accounts of his adventures that appeared in numerous newspapers. One of these accounts dated 19325, detailed an encounter with a spitting cobra at a rubber plantation in Malaya.

However, the most interesting item is a book titled “The Four Faces of Siva” which appeared in 1929. This was a nonfiction book dealing with Robert Casey’s visit to Angkor in Indochina. The book launched an avalanche of newspaper articles dealing with the book itself as well as large assortment of speculative stories pertaining to hidden chambers and lost treasure.

Robert J. Casey – 1945

Fictional story – 1931