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From the ether came mysterious messages announcing that a hitherto unknown Englishman had conquered space, flown to Venus, and is now on his way back to Earth. The fact that science's most highly developed range and frequency finders are unable to pinpoint the actual source of the voice is looked upon as absolute proof that they are hearing from outer space. The aggressive and autocratic quality about the way in which the eccentric Ardath Steele makes his proclamations not only annoys Betty Travers, ace reporter on the Daily Searchlight, but also deciders her to embark on a one-woman vendetta to prove that Steele is an impostor. Even when the spaceship finally lands she remains the only sceptic in a country full of pride in its first space explorer.
John Russell Fearn (1908-1960)John Francis Russell Fearn was born in Worsley, near Manchester, on 5th June, 1908. As a child he devoured imaginative fiction, beginning to write SF at the age of ten - in imitation of Wells and Verne - on a typewriter he was given for his birthday. Extremely prolific, Fearn used many pseudonyms. During the 1930s he wrote for magazines, including the US Pulp magazines, but during the Second World War he switched to books, becoming a central figure in the post-war paperback boom. He wrote numerous westerns, crime stories and romances as well as SF, most of which appeared under the names Vargo Statten and Volsted Gridban (the latter pseudonym being taken over from E. C. Tubb).
Altogether Fearn published 18 stories in the pre-war Astounding, and went on to write more than 100 other stories in all the leading American pulp magazines through to 1948. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction notes that 'his best work is vigorous and occasionally vivid' and the influential British SF agent and editor, John Carnell, paid this tribute: 'Fearn was one of the Greats of the earlier ages, and his name should be there with Hugo Gernsback, John W. Campbell, Stanley G. Weinbaum, Murray Leinster, and all the others whose thoughts and works form ulated today's modern science fiction.'