Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The stories were published in the pulp magazines from 1940-1951. The adventures mostly appeared in Captain Future's own series but later stories appeared in "Startling Stories." They are a good example of the space opera stories of the period. Captain Future is Curtis Newton, a brilliant scientist and adventurer who roams the solar system solving problems, righting wrongs, and vanquishing futuristic supervillains.
The series contains a number of assumptions about the solar system which are naive by modern standards but which still seemed plausible in the time the stories were written. All of the planets of the solar system, and many of the moons and asteroids are suitable for life and most are already occupied by humanoid alien races. The initial adventures take place in the planets of the solar system but later stories take the hero to other stars, other dimensions and even the distant past and future.
The stories are exciting and clever but simplistic in style and characterization. In the later stories Hamilton is able to inject some pathos into his characters. This may have been due to the influence of Hamilton's wife Leigh Brackett. Brackett was also a science fiction writer and many critics credit her with improving the quality of Hamilton's writing after their marriage.
In 1978, one year after Hamilton's death, Toei Animation of Japan produced a Captain Future TV Anime series of 52 episodes, based on 13 original Hamilton stories. Despite the strong cultural differences and the large gap between a literary work and animation, the series was close to the original in many ways, from the didactic scientific explanations to the emphasis on the usefulness of cleverness as opposed to brawn. The series was translated in several languages and distributed globally. It met huge success particularly in France, where the title and lead character's name were changed to "Capitaine Flam" (based on Flame).
The series begins in 1990 when scientist Roger Newton, his wife Elaine, and his brilliant fellow scientist Simon Wright leave planet earth to do research in an isolated laboratory on the moon. Simon's body is old and diseased and Roger enables him to continue doing research by transplanting his healthy brain into an artificial floating case. Working together, the two scientists manage to create an intelligent robot called Grag, and a synthetic man, or android, with shape-shifting abilities and called Otho. Unfortunately, Victor Kaslan the criminal scientist arrives on the moon and murders the Newtons.
The deaths of the Newtons leave their son, Curtis to be raised by the unlikely trio of Otho, Grag and Simon Wright (who is often referred to as the Living Brain). Under their tutelage, Curtis grows up to be a brilliant scientist and as strong and fast as any champion athlete. He also grows up with a strong sense of responsibility and hopes to use his scientific skills to help the people. In the first adventure, he offers his services to the President of the System. The publicity shy Curtis suggests that he work under the alias Captain Future. Simon, Otho and Grag are referred to as the Futuremen in subsequent stories.
Other recurring characters in the series are the old space marshall Ezra Gurney, the beautiful Planet Patrol agent Joan Randal (who provides a love-interest for Curtis) and James Carthew, President of the Solar System whose office is in New York City. Captain Future faces many enemies in his career but his archenemy is Ull Quorn, the so-called Magician of Mars. Quorn is a scientist whose abilities rival those of Captain Future. He is the only recurring villain in the series and appears in four different stories. He is part Martian but his father was the evil Victor Kaslan.
Captain Future is clearly inspired by the earlier pulp hero Doc Savage. Like Doc, he is described as a physical and mental marvel. Captain Future's reliance on scientific gadgets is also similar to the Doc Savage stories, as are his adventurous companions. Grag and Otho have a quarrelsome relationship similar to that of the characters Monk and Ham in the Doc Savage stories. Like their counterparts, Grag and Otho each adopt a small pet. The pets are often brought along on adventures and provide some comic relief in the stories. Grag's pet is Eek, a moon-pup which eats metallic ores. Otho's pet is Ook, a shape-shifting meteor mimic.
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