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Girl in the Golden Atom Paperback – June, 1973

3.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ray Cummings was a prolific writer of many classic works and a founding figure of the science-fiction pulp genre. Jack Williamson is the author of numerous classics of science fiction, including The Humanoids, Darker than You Think, and Terraforming Earth. He has been inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 341 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Pr (June 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0883551365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0883551363
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,966,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeremy S. Roby on November 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the first book I've purchased in the Bison Frontiers of Imagination series. The entire line aims to bring early science fiction stories, from the very beginning of the genre, to a mass audience. It is a worthy series and I plan on buying more in the future.

This book is actually two stories in one, both of which were originally published as serials in the pulp magazine All Story Weekly. The Girl in the Golden Atom was written in 1919 and its sequel, The People in the Golden Atom, in 1920.

Needless to say, the science is extremely dated. Luckily, like most pulp stories at the time, the science fiction element is kept to a minimum.

The plot is relatively simple. A man, identified only as the Chemist, discovers a microscopic world inside a golden ring. Soon, he becomes transfixed with a girl he observes there and determines to shrink himself down and find her. He does this by inventing two drugs, one pill to make him smaller and one pill to make him bigger. He then tells this plan to a group of friends, and asks them to safeguard the ring while he is away. Once he returns, he tells them all the story of his adventures inside the world of the ring. After his tale is over, he shrinks himself down again and returns to his love's side.

It is similar in structure to H.G. Well's The Time Machine. Indeed, this is purposefully done by Cummings, who is attempting to bridge the gap between the science romances of Wells and fantastic voyages of Verne.

The tale is very basic, but it has its charms. The descriptions of shrinking and growing, with the world falling away or rushing up, is very well done. The culture that lives inside the ring is only briefly touched upon.
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By Elliot on October 24, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the earliest true science fiction stories was Fitz-James O'Brien's The Diamond Lens (1858), in which a scientist develops a super-powerful microscope and learns that each atom of matter is a microcosmic world; the scientist sees, and falls in love with, a beautiful but microscopic woman.

"The Diamond Lens" was the obvious inspiration for Ray Cummings' "The Girl in the Golden Atom," although in Cummings' story, the scientist not only sees a microscopic beauty, he actually develops a way to shrink himself so he can visit her.

Cummings originally published the novelette "The Girl in the Golden Atom" in 1919 in All-Story Magazine (a general-interest pulp fiction magazine; there was no pulp magazine devoted solely to science fiction until 1926). It was a hit with readers, and he followed it with a novel-length sequel, "The People of the Golden Atom," which was serialized in All-Story in 1920. In 1922, the two stories were published in book form as "The Girl in the Golden Atom." This Kindle book includes the full 1922 text (i.e., both of the original magazine stories).

Cummings was a good science fiction writer for his day, and "The Girl in the Golden Atom" was his most popular work; he continued to write SF into the 1940s, but nothing he wrote thereafter was as successful. The story is still a pretty good read; the science is of course ludicrous (there are no microscopic people inside atoms, and if there were, they certainly wouldn't speak English!), but Cummings makes an effort to make it sound plausible, and the adventure plot is still somewhat engaging.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was originally published as serials in a pulp magazine called All Story Weekly from 1919-1920. So the writing and science is somewhat dated. If you like early, hard science fiction, this will prove to be an enjoyable journey between two worlds.

As charming as this story is, the writing is somewhat jerky. Since it was originally written as a set of serial stories, the plot is a series of mini adventures and cliff hangers. While reading this I could tell where the story must've left off in each issue. Which was understandable. In the last half of the book though, it gets tedious, as if the story was drug out much longer than it needed to be.

As I write this review, this book is free on Kindle. "Buy" it for "$0.00", read and enjoy a bit early sci-fi.
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If you are a fan of vintage science fiction, this is an acceptable book. It does tend to drag in places particularly where politics and government is discussed. The concept of a world, contained in an atom of a gold wedding band is rather intriguing to me. As a Green Lantern fan, fantasy ring stories appeal to me. As one who also wears a gold wedding ring, it just feeds the science fantasy side of my brain.
Not the greatest read, but it does have some good moments. Be mindful, it is a product of its time, this is not the kind of novel that will be made into an science fiction action film.
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To enjoy this book you must suspend your understanding of the Universe and physics as we now accept them to be. It's based on quaint notion that there exists, in a single atom, whole worlds that resemble ours. The characters and storyline are very simplistic and shallow compared with contemporary science fiction, or fiction in general.
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