Monday, April 18, 2022

S.N. Tenneshaw’s novella Beyond the Walls of Space

S.N. Tenneshaw’s short novel Beyond the Walls of Space was published in Amazing Stories in 1951.

The story takes place some time after the Moon has been reached successfully. Every attempt to go beyond the Moon has however ended in disastrous failure. The most recent attempt led to the loss of the three-man crew commanded by John Masters. Rex Blaine is to command the next mission, his crew being radio operator Ned Kline and technician George Carter. Understandably they’re somewhat anxious in the hours before their spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from the Moon.

They’re even more anxious when the missing astronaut John Masters suddenly materialises on the lunar base, delivers a terrifying but cryptic warning, and then apparently vanishes into thin air.

Rex Blaine is determined to go ahead with the next launch anyway. Now at least he has some inkling of what they’re up against and he knows that Earth is in terrible danger.

The threat comes from the planet Thallom, in our own solar system. This is puzzling because there’s no such planet, or at least nobody ever suspected the existence of such a planet. But Rex Blaine and his crew soon discover that it does indeed exist.

Thallom is ruled by Queen Lura, a woman whose astonishing beauty is matched only by her astonishing evilness. What Queen Lura wants is a large supply of men from Earth. They have to be men. You see the men of Thallom are no longer capable of performing certain functions which the women of Thallom deem to be essential. Virile Earth men are desperately needed. While not performing the aforementioned essential tasks the men will be used as slaves in the robot factories.

Queen Lura has other ambitions as well, and they’re the sorts of ambitions you’d expect from a sinister megalomanical queen. Rex Blaine and his crew are the latest additions to her man collection. Rex suspects that he is intended for her personal use.

Rex may have one ally on Thallom - the beautiful slave girl Noreen. But overthrowing Queen Lura’s power seems impossible, thanks to the obedience drug she uses on her captives.

There’s not even the most token attempt to provide any kind of scientific plausibility to any of the events or technologies described. There’s a gigantic wall in space, there are heat rays and paralysing rays. The author’s understanding of the mechanics of space flight was clearly non-existent. Of course nobody knew very much about the other planets in the solar system in 1951 so perhaps he can be forgiven for the fact that Thallom is a planet vastly bigger than Jupiter but apparently with normal Earth gravity.

This is really just a stock-standard adventure yarn about a square-jawed action hero, a beautiful but evil queen and a beautiful slave girl. This is pure pulp fiction with nothing very much to offer in the way of originality or imagination.

It does however have a certain perverse so-bad-it’s good quality and there is a certain luridness that is amusing. The first thing Rex Blaine notices about Queen Lura is her breasts swelling against her very flimsy blouse. The first thing he notices about the slave girl Noreen is her swelling breasts. There are a lot of swelling breasts in this tale. And of course there’s the fact that the captured Earth men are destined to become sex slaves.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this book is that S.N. Tenneshaw never existed. The name was just a house name that was used at times by quite a few writers (including Robert Silverberg, Milton Lesser and Edmond Hamilton) published by Ziff-Davis. No-one seems to know which of those writers was responsible for Beyond the Walls of Space.

Beyond the Walls of Space really doesn’t have a whole lot going for it and even the luridness is not quite lurid enough to make things interesting. In all honesty I find it hard to recommend this one.

Beyond the Walls of Space is paired with Donald A. Wollheim’s The Secret of the Ninth Planet in one of Armchair Fictions double-header paperback editions.


  1. I suppose it makes a change from alien lizards who "always want the women" lol. Sounds like a similar plot to Devil Girl From Mars. Nice to know Earth still has something to offer ...

    1. Sounds like a similar plot to Devil Girl From Mars.

      Yes, there are definite similarities.