It meant little to Robert Fairlie, a serious and dedicated young philologist, that the United States and Soviet Russia were at odds about the Moon. He had little interest in the first rocket landings or the bases that the two nations had established there. And he neither knew nor cared why the Americans would not agree to mutual inspections of these bases.
Yet the Americans had reason enough: and quite unexpectedly, because of his specialised knowledge of languages, he found himself sharing the burden of an incredible secret. For what the American base had yielded was astounding evidence that space had already been conquered many centuries before by a people who had once spanned the stars. There had been machines and destructive weapons beyond the comprehension of present-day scientists which, if knowledge of them fell into the wrong hands, could plunge the world into unutterable chaos.
Fairlie's trip to the closely-guarded rocket base in New Mexico turned out to be only the first step on a fantastic journey amid the unexplored stars to the home-world of the space-conquerors of long ago.
It was a journey into the appalling reality of stellar space still haunted by the past cosmic struggle whose scale in space and time dwarfed the rivalries of tiny Earth's quarreling nations.
Edmond Hamilton (1904-1977)
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Edmond Hamilton was raised there and in nearby New Castle, Pennsylvania. He was something of a child prodigy, graduating from high school and undertaking his college education at Westminster College at the young age of 14; he dropped out aged 17. A popular science fiction writer in the mid-twentieth century, Hamilton's career began with the publication of his short story 'The Monster God of Mamurth' in the August 1926 issue of Weird Tales. After the war, he wrote for DC Comics, producing stories for Batman, Superman and The Legion of Superheroes. Ultimately, though, he was associated with an extravagant, romantic, high-adventure style of SF, perhaps best represented by his 1947 novel The Star Kings. He was married to fellow SF writer Leigh Brackett from the end of 1946 until his death three decades later.