Will Murray's Pulp Classics #26 G-8 and His Battle Aces Audiobook #1: The Bat Staffel by Robert J. Hogan. Read by Doug Stone. Liner Notes by Will Murray.
They called G-8 the Flying Spy. History never recorded his exploits - and for good reason! No one would ever believe World War I was that wild!
G-8, the high-flying ace pilot of World War I, was born in the front seat of a car barreling through the Holland Tunnel. His father was Robert Jasper Hogan, who had made quite a name for himself as a prolific pulp writer specializing in aviation fiction during the glamorous era now styled Between the Wars. Among practitioners of that now-lost art, this school of writing was styled Yammering Guns, after the sound of contending synchronized machine guns in furious action.It was the summer of 1933, and despite the Great Depression, Popular Publications was booming. Part of their Autumn expansion plans entailed launching The Spider, and a companion title to be aimed at the legions of readers who drank up fictionalized accounts of World War I Allied aces versus Imperial Germany's various bi-winged counts and barons, red and otherwise.
One of Popular's star writers, Hogan was doubtless the first writer publisher Harry Steeger considered when casting about for a suitable scribe. The unnamed magazine was on the schedule as a monthly. The designated author would have to know his rudders and ailerons - and be reliable. Hard drinkers need not apply. And Hogan had been an air cadet during World War I, although the armistice came before he could ship out and see action. Steeger and Hogan hashed out an idea. It was part Eddie Rickenbacker and part What Price Glory? - which was a popular Maxwell Anderson stage play turned into a motion picture. Price stressed the horrors of war as counterpoint to the sentimental comradeship of the Allies in the trenches. Only in this case, by horror, Popular Publications meant something far more horrific than mustard-gas trench warfare atrocities.
For, envisioning the expected strain on the writer's imagination a monthly novel would enact, Steeger and Hogan agreed that the new series would soon grow stale if they didn't spice it up with elements of the fantastic. This recipe ranged from merely super-scientific death rays to the unabashedly supernatural manifestations. Nothing was taboo in G-8. Hogan was a pioneer of over-the-top plotting generations before the term was coined. The premier tale, which appeared in the October, 1933 issue of G-8 and His Battle Aces, exemplified the outrageous approach Steeger and Hogan envisioned for the series. Hogan called it The Bat Staffel. Therein he introduced a German mad scientist who would bedevil his new hero the length and breadth of the series - some 11 tortured years. This first time out, Herr Doktor Krueger unleashed monster bats as big as bi-planes on Allied Sop with Camels and Spads. It made for fearsome reading.
With his canvas limited to the skies over No Man's Land during the four years encompassed by what was originally called the Great War, Hogan went for broke, escalating from terrifying tales such as The Skeleton Patrol and Squadron of the Scorpion to unchecked phantasms of terror like Satan Paints the Sky, Here Flies the Hawks of Hell and The Bloody Wings of the Vampire. Hogan had a predilection for half-human antagonists, which manifested in an annual parade of beast-men, wolf-men, leopard-men, panther-men, even rhino-men. For G-8 and his battle buddies, the War to End All Wars proved to be a very long and hairy conflict. Before it was all over, G-8 battled weird menaces ranging from Martians to Zombies, with assorted undead minions of the Kaiser in between. If Hogan couldn't concoct a fresh beast-man, why, a clutch of cave men or freshly-defrosted Viking berserkers would keep his audience riveted. Recurring foes came and went. G-8 finally vanquished Herr Doktor Krueger late in the series. Or did he? Maybe they renewed their feud for World War II. If so, Hogan failed to record those encounters. No doubt they would have captivated ever-loyal fans of the one and only Flying Spy.
This inaugural G-8 audiobook is narrated by the talented Doug Stone. Stand clear! Contact! Zoooom! Tac-tac-tac-tac! Yammering Guns live again!
Nick DeGregorio composed the music for the G-8 and His Battle Aces series of audiobooks.
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