Terence O’Corcoran was halfway through his deep space exploratory mission when he crash-landed on Mahtog, a previously uncharted planet. O’Corcoran was either 28 or 22 years old (depending on how you calculated stasis-time), but in truth he was only 900 heartbeats older than when he left Earth.
One thing was certain, O’Corcoran’s ship had taken him to the outer limits of outer space. Exploring the alien landscape, the shipwrecked astronaut was immediately attacked by a sundry of terrifying creatures—among them a dinosaur-sized amphibian, a large ant, a green-skinned pigmy and a purple hawk with a wingspan of more than 12 feet. The entire scene was bizarre and reminded O’Corcoran of the garish covers on science fiction adventure magazines of a century ago. “All that was missing,” wrote authors Jack and Julie Jardine, “was the scantily clad maiden—and, of course, the bug-eyed monster.”
Near the end of the novel, O’Corcoran battled more familiar and specific earthly monsters. Said the authors: “His academy training had prepared him for encounters with every sort of life-form imaginable, with the notable exception of werewolves and vampires. Mahtog turned out to be far madder than anything Lewis Carroll had imagined down the rabbit hole.”
O’Corcoran also bumped into an alluring local gal named Naira. She was a pretty little thing. Tiny and lushly curved, she would have looked good on the cover of Miss Galaxy magazine. The first time he spotted her she was wearing loose-fitting and transparent clothing along with embroidered curly toed slippers. “Her wardrobe was barbaric and somewhat reminiscent of an Earth-style harem costume.” Needless to say, it was love at first sight for the lonely spaceman.
Naira (and her peek-a-boo outfit) persuaded O’Corcoran to enlist in the ongoing and escalating Mahtog civil war. When he said yes to her proposal, he unknowingly signed up for a golden age Edgar Rice Burroughs-like adventure.
But back to the monsters: As you might have deduced from the book’s title, all the monsters in this creaky space opera were imaginary—illusions created to spook the Earthman. “Nothing was real,” explained a chatty leprechaun named Seamus O’Flynn (don’t ask why there’s a leprechaun in this story, it’s stupid). “We picked them out of your subconscious—memories of things you’d read about or imagined, like the little green man and the 30-foot purple lady.”
As it turned out, spaceman Terence O’Corcoran wasn’t the hero of this book at all. He was merely a pawn in the local Mahtog conflict—just a tool who was duped by his banal golden age imagination.
[The Mind Monsters / By Jack and Julie Jardine writing as Howard L. Cory / First printing: January 1966]