MISSING MEN OF SATURN

BY PHILIP LATHAM

"We Go Anywhere" was the legend scrawled on the battered hull of the ALBATROSS, one of the worst old tubs in space. To Dale Sutton, the biggest man on campus at the Space Academy, it was a slap in the face to be ordered to such a crate. But his biggest shock came when orders set the ALBATROSS and its two companion ships on a course that led straight to the dreaded planet Saturn. No one had ever come back from Saturn, yet everyone knew the story of Captain Dearborn who had led the first and only expedition to the ringed planet a century earlier. His diary was the record of a steadily losing battle against the unknown as one by one, the little party had vanished.

Now, a hundred years later, the superstitious crew of the ALBATROSS found it impossible to rid themselves of the feeling that the same catastrophe that had wiped out the previous expedition would strike again. They had hardly been settled a day in Dearborn's old underground quarters on Titan, Saturn's largest satellite, when their gnawing fears began to materialize. First, the loss of all their guns when the lights suddenly and inexplicably faded, then the disappearance of the first man! But greater and more deadly horrors were yet to come: panicky moments of groping though ghastly underground caves, the appearance of a face bearing the same twisted features of the illustrious Captain Dearborn, a collision that sends Titan up in a blaze of destruction, and the final landing on Saturn, a planet heaving with volcanos and covered with streams of molten lava.

Philip Latham's portrayal of life on a planet about whose conditions few have ventured a guess is a tale guaranteed to make the reader as numb with terror as the men the author writes about.