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Monday, September 04, 2017

Jeff Hawke's Cosmos v.10 no.2

Jeff Hawke's Cosmos magazine has been off the radar for quite some time as the artwork and printers' proofs for one of the stories included have vanished off the face of the planet. A complete run of the story has been put together from the strip's printed appearance and the printed colour dropped in favour of greyscale. The quality is a little patchy in places, but all the strips are legible and any minor problems are forgivable against the benefits of having the strip together in one place to read.

The latest issue (v.10 no.2, released August 2017) contains just two stories this time round. The icy earth of the Lance McLane strip (under which name the strip ran in the Scottish Daily Record—although the lead character was Hawke in syndication) is undergoing some massive changes, with the ice receding and ocean routes opening up. In the Middle East, the Holy Land is freed from ice and a journey is planned by an Israeli-Arab team to reclaim Palestine and Israel with technical aid from the orbiting spacewheel.

At the same time, a man—ill-equipped and close to death—has been discovered on the ice near the French coast. The survivor of a group living at Bayonne, the man relates how an army looking for slave labour attacked their camp and that they have been forced to work on reopening the Channel Tunnel at Calais—or, more precisely, uncovering a cobalt bomb that have lain buried in the Tunnel since before the ice advanced.

Following the action of 'Pharaoh's Army Got Drowned', we head off to Mars for 'Sails in the Red Sunset'. A Martian survey team loses contact with Mars Base... and then a second survey team stops transmitting. The Hope, delivering nuclear waste for reprocessing, brings Hawke to Mars and a scan of the surface shows an anomaly at Arsia Mons: a strange cold spot. Then Mars Base comes under attack from a drone-like aircraft and communication is lost.

After shooting down several of the attacking craft, Hawke discovers they are robot-made and operated by sophisticated flight brains. Their base appears to be Arsia Mons, where a factory is discovered, automated systems dating back centuries. He also discovers that the attack craft may be guarding something even more ancient.

As with many of the best Jeff Hawke stories—and, indeed, good science fiction in general—the stories often explore major themes; in this latter instance it is the argument between Creationism and Darwinism.

Duncan Lunan, responsible for many of the Lance McLane storylines, provides more 'Hawke Notes', takes a look at the reality behind the Martian drones as well as a number of astronomical features. A couple of features by Roger Ley and William Rudling, plus a look back at the Jeff Hawke Club Weekend of 2016, round out the issue nicely.

Subscription rates are £26 for three issues here in the UK and £34/38/41 for overseas subscribers, payable in a variety of ways. You can find more details (and back issues) at the new Jeff Hawke Club web page or by contacting william AT williamrudling.co.uk.

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