Joe Kang looked out over the black Atlantic Ocean one morning and saw a sight no man on earth had ever seen before. A towering mass arose from the water and moved not as a boat glides but as a man walks.
As it got closer to shore, Kang realized that the figure he was looking at was a robot. As described by author Don Wilcox: “It towered high above the lower clouds and well above the tops of the tallest buildings.” Kang would eventually discover the “Iron Man” came from Venus on a mission of revenge. Later, two more metal monsters would join the fray.
A little backstory. Over the years Earth had turned Venus into a penal colony. Like the early Americas, Devil’s Island and Australia, the planet of Venus became a convenient dumping site for criminals in exile.
And now, the Venusians wanted to leave their inhospitable prison planet and return to Earth. With advanced technology and a little help from a coalition of local opportunists, they were “scheming to bust the whole interplanetary system wide open.” They figured three iron giants on the ground and 17 warships in the sky would be a good way to announce their homecoming.
Joe Kang saw the first robot emerge from the sea and ultimately figured out a path toward the novel’s endgame. But he wasn’t the only member of his family entangled in the Venus-Earth conflict. His brothers were involved too. In fact, you could say that Ruppert and Lanny Kang had the two best seats to watch the battle unfold.
Iron Men of Venus (first published in 1952) has lots of giant robot action and War of the Worlds-like imagery, but it’s only a science fiction novel by default. In reality, the whole thing hangs on a thread of unrequited love.
It’s a scientific fact that the universe cracks a little bit when a woman marries the wrong man. And that fact escalates the interplanetary kerfuffle. In the end, when love (and the universe) finally align, the robots and the Venusians go back home. Poets and philosophers agree: Love has never been conquered, not even by the greatest robot army in the solar system.
[Iron Men of Venus / By Don Wilcox / First Armchair Fiction Edition: December 2010 / ISBN: 9781612870045]