Fiction Friday Monday: “Devil’s Asteroid” by Manley Wade Wellman



Manley Wade Wellman

First of all, what a great name, Manley Wade Wellman. Born in 1903, and best known for his Fantasy and Horror classic stories, he also worked on the comic The Spirit while Eisner was in the military during WWII. He won both the World Fantasy Award and the Poe Award. Aside from his books and short stories, he was an active participant in the golden age of television drama, penning original scripts and adapting his short stories to shows like Twilight Zone, Lights Out and Night Gallery.

Submitted for your approval, “Devil’s Asteroid” is a story about the trials of convicts on an alien planet. Fitzhugh Parr is in the unenviable position of coming in to take over this…”little hell”.


It was not very large, as asteroids go, but about it clung a silvery mist of atmosphere. Deeper flashes through the mist betokened water, and green patches hinted of rich vegetation. The space-patroller circled the little world knowledgeably, like a wasp buzzing around an apple. In the control room, by the forward ports, the Martian skipper addressed his Terrestrial companion.


“I wissh you joy of yourr new home,” he purred. Like many Martians, he was braced upright on his lower tentacles by hoops and buckles around his bladdery body, so that he had roughly a human form, over which lay a strange loose armor of light plates. In the breathing hole of his petal-tufted skull was lodged an artificial voice-box that achieved words. “I rregrret—”


Fitzhugh Parr glowered back. He was tall, even for a man of Earth, and his long-jawed young face darkened with wrath. “Regret nothing,” he snapped. “You’re jolly glad to drop me on this little hell.”


“Hell?” repeated the Martian reproachfully. “But it iss a ssplendid miniaturre worrld—nineteen of yourr miless in diameterr, with arrtificial grravity centerr to hold airr and waterr; ssown, too, with Terresstrrial plantss. And companionss of yourr own rrace.”


You can find the rest of this story here.



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