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The Nyctalope on Mars Paperback – June 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Hollywood Comics (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934543462
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934543467
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,873,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David L. Vineyard on July 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Nyctalope on Mars (1911) by Jean de la Hire is a fast moving pulp adventure from the early years of French popular fiction which introduces la Hire's early superhero prototype Leo Saint-Clair, known as the Nyctalope because his cat like eyes can see in the dark. In addition Saint-Clair has an artificial heart which makes him virtually immortal. Although not as well known as his cousins Arsene Lupin, the Phantom of the Opera, and Fantomas, the Nyctalope is an important early figure in the development of pulp heroes such as Doc Savage and later the comic strip and comic book hero.

This book is the first in the series which ran from 1911 to 1946, with two unpublished books reprinted in the 1950's. In this one a message is recieved that the meglomanical Oxus, head of the mysterious Society of the Fifteen, has kidnaped Xaviere de Ciserat and holds her at his stronghold on Mars where he plots to conquer Earth. Leo Saint-Clair, whose father battled the Fifteen in an earlier novel by de la Hire (The Man Who Could Live Underwater), is soon off to Mars in a spaceship (eschewing the more esoteric methods employed by Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter or Edwin Lester Arnold's Lt. Gullivar Jones for traveling to the Red Planet). There's even a crude battle in space ala Star Wars in the best tradition of space opera.

Once on Mars the Nyctalope makes short work of Oxus, but that's only the beginning of his troubles as he must prevent yet another plot ---a second invasion of Earth by H.G. Wells native Martian's from War of the Worlds!
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The Nyctalope is an overlooked French 'proto-superhero/pulp adventurer' that was featured in a series of serialized novels and stories during the first half of the twentieth century. Due in part to the author working with the Vichy government during WWII, both he and his character fell out of popularity. Now, Black Coat Press has been slowing bringing the character back with translations of the original stories and new ones by several authors.

This volume publishes the first Nyctalope novel, but is actually the second in the general series (more on why shortly).

The Nyctalope is really Leo Saint-Clair. He has the ability to see in the dark, hence his name. He also has an artificial heart, which seems to also imbid him with vitality and a bit of longevity (tho this is not mentioned in this novel, so I guess this is something the author added later to the character). He then embarks on a life of adventure, both on the Earth and on other worlds, and as a patriotic Frenchman, working for his government as a sort of special agent. In this first novel, he is more referred to as an explorer, having traveled in Tibet and in Central Africa, less so then being an adventure or heroic (its even noted that he is no detective).

As this is an early sf adventure, before many conventions we are used to came into use, the story is a bit rougth. Brian Stableford has tried to fix these, and the notes and explanation materials explains the issues with the work. One is the time placement of the story. Less easy to fix are how the characters act.

I said this is the 2nd story in the Nyctalope series, but the first Nyctalope story. This is because this novel is actually the sequel to two others.
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The Nyctalope on Mars is a fast paced, action packed adventure/ Science- Fiction Novel. Lovers of heroes in the vein of Batman/The Phantom/ will enjoy the Nyctalope character himself well fans of Flash Gordon/ Buck Rogers will find a well paced space epic in this story. The author also does an excellent job of working in the aliens from HG Wells War of the Worlds into the story.
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