Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction Special (Marvel Magazine/1976)

When Marvel cancelled their short lived Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction magazine they were left with a lot of material, some of which they published in this one-off special in 1976. Unknown Worlds was one of a whole line of a line of black & white magazines launched by the company to capture the "adult" market dominated by Warren with it's famous line of magazine Creepy, Eerie and of course Vampirella.

The magazines made a profit but nowhere near enough to make this line a success and and Unknown Worlds was one of the earlier casualties. Apparently science fiction was a difficult sell. If only they knew what was around the corner in 1977.....

Actually the reason Marvel had trouble was they launched far too many magazines with no les than thirteen on the shelves at one point. This included five Horror Mags. Overkill, something companies still indulge in with crossovers and too many Batman or X-Men related comics.

As a fan of the genre it was a pity there wasn't more of this magazine although some of the varied content did leave a little to be desired. However this special really is well worth reading if you can get hold of a copy.

There are seven tales starting with A Martian Odyssey which just gets weirder as it goes along but very entertaining as we see various impossible and improbable lifeforms on the red planet. This is followed by Journey's End a nightmare world in which a man is imprisoned in a dream by his wife seeking a divorce but doesn't know it.

The Forest of Trees is a story of fear in an unknown world and is a more traditional sci-fi tale with a twist whilst Clete sees aliens exploring Earthly ruins with one turning native to save the last woman. Doesn't end well.

The best story (one which I am sure has been reprinted elsewhere) is Preservation of the Species, a tale of mutants, forbidden love. aliens and a sexless couple until one night Lee sees her husband in the bushes with a native woman. Deciding to enjoy herself Lee dresses as a native and makes love to her husband who has no genitals. The horror is about to begin.

The only naff tale is Sinner which is best skipped but the final story, Arena seems remarkably similar to a Star Trek adventure where Kirk meets the Gorn. Nuff said.

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