Friday, November 6, 2015

Ole Doc Methuselah by L. Ron Hubbard

I first encountered Ole Doc in 1970 when DAW paperbacks reprinted these seven classic tales from the pages of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. I’ve been a fan of L. Ron Hubbard’s adventure stories ever since. Ole Doc is a Soldier of Light, an intergalactic physician accompanied by a multi-armed alien named Hippocrates. Incorrigible and somewhat cerebral, Ole Doc is a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Allan Quartermain which makes for fun reading. These seven adventures were written as individual short stories but can also be viewed as a loosely knit novel. Doc encounters all sorts of problems, from alien disease to a regal aberration and greedy businessmen. Doc handles each problem with a deft touch and wry humor. Hubbard was at the top of his form when he penned these great stories. The writing is smooth and the stories possess that rare quality of being slightly humorous without being condescending. When people talk about “classic science fiction” they’re talking about stories like these from a Master Storyteller. This was one of the very first books I read by Hubbard and a personal favorite from that glorious age of pulp reprints in the early 70s. Ole Doc was fascinating. He had the cerebral abilities of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and additionally, the stories had the same energy as the best Ellery Queen mysteries. Best of all this was Space Opera, but with a twist. For collectors this is DAW # 20 with cover art by Josh Kirby. The current paperback edition from Galaxy Press sports a jaw-dropping colorful cover by Gerry Grace. All of these stories were originally published under the pseudonym Rene Lafayette as follows:

Ole Doc Methuselah, Astounding Oct 1947
The Expensive Slaves, Astounding Nov 1947
Her Majesty’s Aberration, Astounding Mar 1948
The Great Air Monopoly, Astounding Sep 1948
Plague, Astounding Apr 1949
A Sound Investment, Astounding Jun 1949
Ole Mother Methuselah, Astounding Jan 1950
Current edition from Galaxy Press

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