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DAVID WRIGHT O'BRIEN
(WRITING AS DUNCAN FARNSWORTH)

PROBLEM ON MARS

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Ex Libris

First published in Fantastic Aventures, August 1941

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2018
Version Date: 2018-07-07
Produced by Roy Glashan

The text of this book is in the public domain in Australia.
All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

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Fantastic Aventures, August 1941, with "Problem on Mars"


TABLE OF CONTENTS



BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE

Fantastic Aventures published this open-ended story as part of a puzzle contest. Readers were asked to find an answer to the question posed in the final sentence. Prizes of $50, $10 and $5 were offered for the best solutions. The results of the contest were announced in the December 1941 issue of the magazine.

Pulp magazines and other periodicals often linked stories to puzzle contests of this type. Typical examples are the Edgar Wallace story "Five Fatal Words" (Tit Bit Novels, 10 June 1917) and the E. Phillips Oppenheim serial "The Story Without a Name"(The New York Post, 20 January-20 May 1935). Both of are available as e-books at RGL, the latter under the title "The Bird of Paradise" (aka "The Floating Peril").

—Roy Glashan, 5 July 2018.


THE STORY

Illustration

"Hold it, Mars. We'll answer your question in a moment."



The fate of millions depended on the answer to a simple question—an answer that would send the Martian rocketing to Earth's rescue...



"YOU'RE tired, dear. Why don't you get some rest? You can't go on like this, driving yourself endlessly, ceaselessly, until you crack completely. Please, Nard, won't you take it a little easier?"

Ellen Warren, blond and petite in her severe red-and-gray tunic, looked worriedly down at the big-shouldered, black-haired young man who sat hunched over a chart table in the Federation Laboratories.

Nard Masters, grinning up at her for an instant, shook his head.

"Don't worry about me, honey. I can take it. There's too much work to be done around here. I can't funk out now. I'm needed more than ever."

"Yes, Nard. You're right. The latest reports on the televisors say that the death toll has climbed to 500,000. It's increasing steadily. They're afraid, now, that they won't be able to stop the Plague* from crossing the Atlantic. Lord, Nard, if it ever reaches here..." Ellen's face paled slightly.

[* The Plague, a mysterious devastating epidemic, broke out in the European Sector of Earth Federation in the year 2300. Scientists of the day were powerless to stop it without the aid of a chemical substance they knew to be on Mars, called planerium. Mars, at the beginning of the plague, was still unreached by Earth, although progress in stratoradio communication between Earth and Mars had reached the point where electrical flashes were detected as coming from that planet. —Ed.]

There was earnestness in Ellen Warren's tone as she asked the question that was in the minds of millions.

"Do you really think you can break through, Nard? Do you really think that contact can be established with Mars?"

"The contact has been established, Ellen. Those constant static electrical flashes we've been getting on our stratoradios for fifteen years are some sort of a message. I'm convinced of it. If we can only synchronize them into some sort of systematic language terms, we'll be able to make ourselves understood."

Ellen looked at the charts in front of Masters.

"Do you think you can do it, Nard?"

"I can do my best, honey," Masters answered slowly. "That's all any of us can do." His voice seemed suddenly tired. "Every so often it looks like I've established a communication basis. But my checks on my findings always go haywire." He turned wearily back to his charts. Ellen Warren bent briefly over him, brushing her lips against his aching forehead.

"Keep trying, dear. I know you can do it," she said. Then she left, while Nard Masters went back to feverish scrutiny of the papers before him...


NARD MASTERS worked furiously through that night and into the next morning. It was on the following afternoon, however, that Masters, spent, red-eyed, and haggard, burst into the conference room of Federation Laboratories and faced an assembly of the fifteen greatest men of science of the day.

"Gentlemen!" Master's voice was almost a croak. "I have it, gentlemen. I have it!"

There was an immediate hubbub of voices, while white-coated gray-bearded scientists crowded around their wide-shouldered young contemporary. And it was an hour after that, that tall, gray, unsmiling Professor Jaro Bennet reached out and took Nard Masters' hand.

"You've done it, boy. You've accomplished what none of the others has been able to do. We'll start communication attempts within the hour. But for yourself, son, get some rest. Get plenty of it. We'll be needing you to take over the communications boards by tomorrow!"

Nard Masters, infinitely weary, stumbled out of the large, excitedly seething room. In his mind, endlessly, rang the words,

"I did it. I did it. None of the others could. But I did. I've established a common communication between Earth and Mars. I've taken those static flashes and translated them into a language. Now we know the language of Mars. Now we'll be able to talk to them. Now, perhaps, we can get that planerium from Mars. And when we do, the plague is stopped, the plague is stopped, the pla—" Nard Masters, reaching his room, fell into a sleep of utter exhaustion, while those words rang in his brain...


NARD slept for fifteen hours. And when he woke it was without a realization of where he was, or how he had gotten there. Then, looking around, he realized that he was in his small room in the Federation Laboratories Building. Groggily, he shook his head, sitting up. At once it came to him again that he had triumphed in his battle against time, that he had forged a communication link between Earth and Mars before it was too late. Suddenly, then, he had a natural and burning desire to be up and back at work. He recalled that Professor Bennet had told him he was to be put in charge of the stratoradio communications boards. And so, in less than ten minutes, young Masters had dressed and was striding through the door of the stratoradio room.

Some of the same scientists who had been in the conference room fifteen hours ago, were now gathered tensely around the huge white enamelloid stratoradio communications board against the far wall. One was unsmiling Professor Jaro Bennet, who now advanced to meet Nard.

"How are we progressing?" was Nard's first question.

"Well enough," Bennet replied. "We're establishing your quick- translator apparatus, which should enable us to speak almost directly."

"What of the plague?" Nard demanded. "Has it been checked at all?"

Bennet shook his head gravely.

"Sweeping like a forest fire, Masters. They don't think they can keep it from the middlewestern plains for more than another thirty hours."

"Middlewestern plains?" Nard's voice was horrified. "You mean our middlewestern plains? You mean the plague has crossed, has finally swept over here from Europe?"

Bennet nodded quietly.

"You'd only been sleeping five hours when we got word that the plague had hit New York. There was nothing to be gained by waking you. Thirty thousand have come down with it already. Over three thousand are dead. But that's just a start. We all know it. The havoc that will spread inside of another hundred hours will be sheer maddening hell—unless we can come through."

There was no need for comment. Nard nodded grimly and stepped over to the stratoradio communications board, from which static flashes sparked in orange staccatos of alternate duration.

Nard spoke to Professor Bennet, who had followed him to the broad.

"Have you my communication findings?"

Bennet shoved a chart in front of him, and Nard sat down. Briefly he scanned the chart. On it he had interpreted a series of some six hundred static radio flashes (those they had been getting from Mars) into the terminology of Earth vocabulary. The shading, volume, and duration of each static flash was recorded, and alongside of it the "translation" into Earth language. The colossal job that had taken him fifteen years to record and finally "key" to Earth equivalents.

Then Nard leaned forward and quickly scrutinized a large, oblong, transmitter apparatus which contained a loudspeaker at its top. Old Professor Jaro Bennet explained its purpose briefly to the others.

"It takes the flashes, the static electricity, then 'interprets' them into a voice mechanism —a sort of robot larynx—which speaks directly out of the loudspeaker, saving us the time we'd have to use it to make the translations on paper. It is this electrical device Mr. Masters worked so long to synchronize."


NARD looked up at the communications board, nodding shortly. The orange flashes still sparked across the screen. Then he flicked the button on the oblong transmitter box, and the amplifier began to crackle and hum. To Nard's right was a communications key —similar to the ancient apparatus once used by telegraphers—and using this with skilled speed, Nard began to flash a "message" to Mars.

"H-e-l-l-o  M-a-r-s,  c-a-n  y-o-u  g-e- t  t-h-i-s?"

The humming in the "translation" mike began to increase, then, metallically, from the "robot larynx" there issued words.

"Still able to hear you. Still able to make myself clear?"

Nard found his heart beating a swift tattoo of excitement. Even though he knew that the robot larynx was artificial, and that the "voice" of the Martian at the other end of the static flashes was probably vastly different, the illusion of reality was strong.

Nard's fingers manipulated the key.

"Y-e-s,  y-o-u  a-r-e  s-t-i-l-l  c-l-e-a- r.  W-a-i-t."

Nard reached over and snapped off the loudspeaker button on the robot larynx. Then he turned to Professor Bennet. "You've done some marvelous work, Professor. Building up a communications mike with so little to start on."

"You can credit yourself with that, boy," Bennet replied. "We didn't find it hard, working from your findings." Then the lean lines in his face seemed a little bit graver, a little bit more gaunt. "But I have to tell you now, Nard, that you just talked to the last Martian alive on that planet!"

The words had a bombshell effect on Nard Masters.

"What!"

Professor Bennet nodded.

"We didn't find it out until almost five hours ago. The creature on Mars to whom you were talking is the last living thing on that planet. There has been disaster on Mars, Nard, as far as we can learn, for the past three centuries. Martians have been dying off by the thousands. Some sort of orange dust settling over the planet, killing off its inhabitants, has been the cause. We'd set up our communications with this last living being, had established our patterns concerning planerium and made almost every last finding about the planet which would be necessary to our plans, when the Martian told us that he was the last living being on Mars."

[* The existence of planerium on Mars had been established through observation and instrument, and a pattern of its probable location points on the planet made by an intricate series of elemento-photo montages produced by long-term vari­colored light photographs of the planet's surface as revealed to the spectrographic camera. It was to check with the Martian on the accuracy of these patterns that Bennet communicated them to the Martian for confirmation. —Ed.]

"But the planerium—" Nard began, whitefaced in horror.

"The planerium on Mars is still plentiful. We've established that much. This dust, this stuff that's killed off the Martians, hasn't affected that."

"Thank God," Nard blurted. "But what about this Martian, this last survivor? Why hasn't the dust killed him off?"

"As far as we can learn, the dust works slowly, cutting down the life span of Martians, rather than killing them instantly. Bit by bit, it got to the others, cutting off their allotted time of life. It had finally cut the inhabitants down to one family of six Martians. This Martian was the youngest. The others have died. His time is marked— we can't ascertain how long he has left."

Nard put his head in his hands

"Good Lord, this is horrible! We won't be able to reach him. We'll not make it in time. Why, the ship we'll have to build to get through space will take so long to construct that—"

Professor Bennet cut him off.

"The ship is on the way to Mars, Nard!"


"SHIP, on the way?" Nard was incredulous. "But that's impossible! Federation Laboratories* have yet to perfect a man- carrying rocket that will reach Mars! Why it will take them—"

[* Federation Laboratories, at this time, although having made vast progress in every field of science, had yet to construct a space ship which could successfully carry a human being through the void and to other planets. They had, however, made small experimental ships by which they'd penetrated the void, but which were too small to carry a human being. These ships, robot controlled, were the same as the one mentioned by Professor Bennet. —Ed.]

Bennet shook his head.

"Man-carrying rockets are still impossible, Nard. We still don't dare risk them. But we've sent one of the eight-foot, robot-controlled, experimental rockets. We'll know if it reaches Mars inside of another ten hours."

Nard was still unbelieving.

"But an experimental rocket," he said hoarsely, "won't do us any good. Supposing it does reach Mars—we've still no means of getting it back to Earth with that planerium!"

"We can't send anyone in it, if that's what you mean," Bennet answered. "It's too small for that, and we can't perfect a larger rocket in the time we've got. But fate has played into our hands in at least one respect, Nard; the Martian can bring it back with the planerium."

"But it couldn't possibly carry a man!" Nard stormed, his frayed nerves getting the best of him.

Bennet put his hand quickly on Nard's shoulder.

"Take it easy, boy. I'm trying to explain this to you."

Nard Masters rubbed his hand across his eyes.

"But the small experimental ship has never been made that can carry a human or, for that matter, a Martian!" he insisted hoarsely. "Someone will have to bring that ship back from Mars. Someone will have to put the planerium minerals aboard!"

"Our Martian is precisely two feet tall, Nard, and weighs less than forty pounds. We've learned that the entire race was that size!" Professor Bennet said sharply. "Don't you see what that blessed bit of good luck means to us? The Martian, through our stratoradio directions, can get the planerium minerals, several pounds of the stuff, and take the ship back here to Earth!"

Nard Masters opened his mouth in astonishment. "Two feet tall, and less than forty pounds—Professor, you're right! He would be able to fit in the experimental ship. He would be able to bring it back!" There was sudden excitement, and a sweeping flood of relief in his voice.

Professor Bennet smiled wryly.

"So you see, Nard, there is a chance. And it all depends on our experimental ship reaching Mars. We've set the robot controls so that it should land precisely where the Martian is now— thanks to the space navigational data he passed on to us. The Martian is cognizant of the situation, and he's already assembled two pounds of planerium minerals, thanks to your excellent communication findings. It all depends on the ship. We've got to wait, got to be patient, and pray that that ship arrives. That's all we can do until we know."

Nard nodded grimly.

"And we might also pray that the plague holds back until we've time to stop it." He shook his head wearily, and sat down again at the chart tables before the communication board.

Professor Jaro Bennet pointed to the sheaf of papers on the right of the table at which Nard sat.

"There are the papers containing all the data we've collected from the sole surviving Martian as to himself and his racial characteristics. Make interesting reading, and help you pass the hellish wait we'll have."

As Professor Bennet moved away, Nard marveled at the tremendous calm, the steel nerve, the cool calculation of the man. As head of the Federation Laboratories' Department of Science, Professor Bennet was shouldering a task that was staggering to contemplate. He held the fate of Earth in his hands. Federation's Department of Medicine could stop this plague if it got planerium. But it was up to Bennet and his Department of Science to get that chemical from a planet man had never reached directly before.

Nard shook his head in admiration, then turned his tired eyes to the data on the Martian. Half an hour passed, then an hour, and Nard was reading feverishly—almost forgetting where he was or why—over the assembled data. It was incredible what a wealth of information his communication system had opened up.

From these papers Nard learned what men of science had always suspected, that the Martians were a race at least ten thousands years ahead of Earth in many respects, and thousands of years ahead in others. He learned that, in addition to their size, Martians had other peculiarities that made them anatomically different from Earth humans.

They were blind, for example, in that they had no eyesight as Earthmen knew the term. Their sensory perceptions were by organs impossible to guess at, inasmuch as they possessed nothing resembling eyes.

Sketchy though the inferences were, Nard could see that the chance of the little Martian's bringing the experimental ship back to Earth meant more than bringing planerium to stop the plague. It meant that Earth would have the last member of a dying race which was rich in scientific achievement that would add vast stores of knowledge to the world.

If they could get the little Martian to Earth, Nard knew, they would be able to work out an absolutely foolproof method of communication which would enable the scientists of the Federation to tap utterly the rich font of incredible information possessed by this strange little creature from another world. The thought of what this would mean to the future of Earth was staggering to contemplate.

And Nard read on, occasionally cursing the fact the communication difficulties made certain hinted knowledge only sketchy information. But there was enough there to make his scientific mind alive to the fact that—should they succeed in getting the Martian and the planerium back to Earth—he would live to see the birth of a new civilization on Earth.


FIVE hours had passed, when someone tapped Nard Masters on the shoulder. He looked up, startled, to see a uniformed Laboratories messenger holding an envelope out to him. Automatically, Nard reached for the message and tore it open.

The words, electrotyped on the small white sheet of paper, stunned him with a sickening, terrible force.


NARD:

ELLEN HAS BEEN STRICKEN BY THE PLAGUE. FOR THE LOVE OF HEAVEN, BOY, STIR THAT LABORATORY INTO ACTION. SHE HASN'T LONG, UNLESS THAT DRUG IS OBTAINED TO BRING HER AROUND. I FELT THAT YOU HAD TO KNOW THIS. STICK TO YOUR GUNS AND DO YOUR DAMNEDEST. WE'LL LET YOU KNOW IF SHE GETS ANY WEAKER.

CHRISTOPHER WARREN, M.D.


THE white room wheeled giddily for Nard as he crushed the note in his white-knuckled fist. Ellen, Ellen Warren— the girl he loved—stricken by the damnably insidious plague! Nard felt his throat choke up dryly, and his eyes burned with a terrible dimness. Automatically, like a man in a trance, he opened his fist and spread out the crumpled note. The words—written by the girl's father—burned again and again into his brain. Ellen has been stricken by the plague.

There was a vague wave of sound around Nard Masters, and he had a fuzzy sense of commotion on all sides of him. But he was stumbling onward through it all, conscious only of the fact that he had to get to Ellen, had to leave the blurred white room with the furious sound.

Then someone had him by the shoulder, shaking him violently, and he heard a voice saying,

"Nard, Nard, come out of it, boy! What's wrong?"

Someone tore the note from his fist, still shaking him by the shoulder, and suddenly the whirling stopped somewhat, and Nard made out the face of Professor Bennet before him.

"Nard, come out of it, son. I just read that note—and I know it's hell on you. But you've got to come out of it!"

Nard brushed Bennet's arm from his shoulder.

"Let me alone," he muttered, "I must get to Ellen, you understand? I must get to Ellen!"

Slap!

Nard recoiled from a heavy, open-palmed blow on the face.

Slap!

He reeled foggily away from a second. And then he was conscious again of Professor Bennet standing before him.

"Get hold of yourself, boy!" The old man was shouting. "You can't go to Ellen. She'll be all right for a little longer. You're needed here, understand? Ellen needs you for what you can do here more than anything else. Do you understand? You can save her only by sticking to your guns!"

The welling of sound grew louder, and Nard's vision cleared slightly.

"The experimental ship has reached the Martian!" Bennet shouted. "That's what this commotion means. Take your place at the communications board!"

Professor Bennet's words were like a bucket of cold water sloshed across Nard's face. He shook his head, as if coming out of a fog. Then, grim-lipped, he looked levelly at Bennet.

"Thanks, Professor. You're right. I was driven a little crazy for a minute."

He turned and moved swiftly to the communications board, sliding into the chair vacated by the scientist who'd been operating the communications key while Bennet was bringing Nard to his senses.


SWIFTLY, Nard's fingers found the key, and simultaneously, his other hand reached out and adjusted the amplifier to louder volume. The Martian's message came out of the robot larynx metallically insistent.

"Your space ship here. Mineral chemicals placed inside. What am I to do next? Dust is thickening. Please hurry."

Someone shoved a diagram in front of Nard. Professor Jaro Bennet stood beside him.

"Those are plans of the experimental rocket ship. You will have to use them to tell him which control to throw to take the ship back to Earth."

Nard increased the frequency modulator on the key, his finger working doubly fast now.

"Enter the rocket ship," he tapped furiously, "and walk to the front of it. You'll find a panel there—a control board—"

The metallic answer stopped Nard cold.

"What is front?" asked the Martian. Nard looked despairingly at Bennet.

"Doesn't he comprehend direction?" he asked. Bennet shook his head.

"Not as we know direction," he answered. "That was one of the unfortunate gaps in our synchronized communications. But tell him to go to the end of the ship having a board with two knobs prominently at its center. He'll get it that way."

Nard breathed a sigh of relief, his fingers swiftly tapping, "Go to end of rocket having board in center, with buttons on board."

The metallic voice came back a few moments later.

"I am before the board. What shall I do now?"

"Push the button," Nard's finger flew up and down on the key, "to your right." And even as he tapped out the words, Nard realized sickeningly that the Martian would ask—

"What is right?" The metallic voice, coming quickly over the amplifier, finished Nard's horrible certainty.

Nard looked up at Professor Bennet for a suggestion, but to his horror, the Professor's face was strained in sudden fear.

"What's a way to tell him left from right, Professor?" Nard asked desperately. "We can't let him mix those two buttons up. If he pushes the wrong one he'll have an internal rocket combustion that'll blow his ship to hell!"*

[*These experimental rockets, set into automatic, robotized action by depression of the starting lever, thereafter took off from the gravity field of a planet and proceeded to the gravitational field of the body pre-determined upon as the destination. If the wrong button were depressed, the rocket, instead of taking off from the planet on which it was, would proceed in the direction of the gravity attraction rather than away from it. Obviously, this would result in the craft digging itself into the soil, and ultimately exploding as its rocket discharges built up and were not expended. —Ed.]

But Professor Bennet was silent, jaw clamped hard as he thought desperately, and, as Nard was beginning to realize, futilely!

"Hold on, we'll tell you left from right in a moment," Nard flicked urgently down again and again on the key to send the words. "Don't touch those buttons until we do!" he ordered sharply, warningly. "One will bring you here, the other will blow you to fragments!"

Then, wheeling, Nard turned on the other scientists in the room—some fifteen of them—all whitefaced in concentration on what they'd heard.

"All right, gentlemen, can any of you tell me how we can show the Martian his right hand from his left?"

One scientist spoke up.

"Which side is the door on—the door to the ship, I mean?"

Nard looked swiftly down at the diagram of the experimental rocket ship. When he looked up the hope that had been in his eyes for an instant was gone.

"The door is on neither side," he announced. "It is on the top of the ship, directly in the center. Just a hole, really, through which the occupant can let himself down into the rocket. No, I am very much afraid that won't do."

Professor Jaro Bennet spoke out.

"Gentlemen, the question must be answered just as quickly as possible. How can we teach him his right hand from his left? There must be no possible chance for error. That would be fatal.

Nard Masters, thinking of Ellen, the future of Earth, and the fate of millions stricken just as Ellen, wanted to scream out raggedly to break the silence that suddenly gripped that room.

Insistently, anxiously, the metallic voice from the robot larynx rang out in the silence—

"Right, what is right? Tell me..."

* * * * *

That's the problem, dear readers. Simply tell the Martian which is his right hand! Can you do it?



THE PUZZLE


$65 IN CASH PRIZES!

1st—$50.00 CASH 2nd—$10.00 CASH 3rd—$5.00 CASH

ANSWER THE MARTIAN'S QUESTION: "WHICH IS MY RIGHT HAND?"

If you haven't already read "Problem On Mars", read it now. It begins on page 64. It poses a very simple problem, although important to the story. Answer it, and win one of the prizes


THE STORY BEHIND THE CONTEST

EVERYBODY likes to get easy money, and everybody likes contests. That's the major reason for the contest we are presenting to our readers here. But fantasy fans especially like contests, based on their favorite reading pastime. And we, the editors, are always on the lookout for something that will provide both interest and competition, and at the same time, not be so impossibly hard that even our extra-smart readers can't enjoy solving the problem presented.

However, we had no intentions of presenting a contest now. It thrust itself upon us. Here's how it happened. We got a call from author Duncan Farnsworth, who was in a dilemma. He'd written a space-communication story, and had come to the climax—and by golly, he found he'd innocently asked himself a question he couldn't answer. It was the simplest question that could have been posed, and yet, it offered so many angles that the problem became one that he felt ought to be shared. That problem was: how to tell a Martian which was his right hand?

Naturally, we don't know what a Martian looks like, although we can hazard a scientific guess as to his appearance. We can approach him almost certainly by deduction and reasoning and known observation of Mars. But if he has eyes, do they see as ours do? Does he use any of his senses as we do? Do his powers of orientation match ours? We don't know for sure!

So, when it comes to a question of which of two ways a lever shall be thrown, one of which is disaster, we can't trust to a fifty-fifty chance of success. We must be sure. Therefore, author Farnsworth wants our readers to tell him how to tell the man from Mars which way to turn a lever—without any chance of being wrong! There are ways—many of them. We assure you of that. Can you tell us just one?

You can? Well, then by virtue of the best answer you're going to be richer by either $50.00, $10.00, or $5.00. The simple rules follow. Just sit down and write your letter and send it in. We're waiting with the checkbook before us! And for those of you who give us answers that may be correct, but not in the prize-winning class, we'll have ten honorable mentions, or more, if answers warrant.


RULES OF CONTEST

1. Contest open to all, except employees of Fantastic Adventures, the Ziff-Davfs Publishing Co., and their families.

2. Write a letter (on one side of the paper only) giving us, in as few words as possible, your solution to the problem posed in the last sentences of the story "Problem on Mars".

3. Fill out and return with your letter the coupon below, or a reasonable facsimile, if you do not wish to deface your magazine.

4. No entry will be returned.

5. Address all entries to: Contest Editor, Fantastic Adventures, 608 S. Dearborn St., Chicago. Ill.

6. The Editors of Fantastic Adventures will be the judges in this contest. Their decision is accepted as final by all contestants.

7. All entries must be in the hands of the Contest Editor by August 1, 1941. The winners will be announced in the November issue of Fantastic Adventures. In case of ties, letters will be judged as to neatness, conciseness, and clarity of presentation.

8. Prize winning letters become the property of Fantastic Adventures.

9. The Contest Editor regrets that he is unable to entertain correspondence of any kind regarding entries.




THE SOLUTION


PRIZE CONTEST WINNERS!

Here they are, readers. The winners in our recent story contest. You remember it. Duncan Farnsworth's "Problem On Mars" in our August issue. The problem was to answer the question of the Martian: "Which is my right hand?" Here are the names of the readers who answer the Martian in the most direct, simple, and unequivocable way.



First Prize—$50.00 Second Prize—$ 10.00 Third Prize—$5.00

Mrs. L. V. Metcalf,
66 W. Main Street,
Ayer, Mass.
Victor Kirkpatrick,
911 Shades Road,
Birmingham, Ala.
C. Stanley Knape,
503 E. 17th Street,
Austin, Texas.



Honorable Mentions

W. J. Hartwick, 420 Cedar Street, Wallace, Idaho.

Pvt. R. L. Robinson, Ward 36, Station Hospital, Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

Donald L. Graham, 159 Broad Street, Grove City, Pennsylvania.

Herman S. Weiss, Apt. 2, 403 Dinwiddie Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

D. E. O'Conner, 23 Haskin Street, Springfield, Massachusetts.

Harry Hanly, 1712 Chamberlain Street Chattanooga, Tennessee.

James P. Martin, 7th Co., A. F. S. Det., Fort Knox, Kentucky.

D. F. Bueschel, 22 State Street, Hammond, Indiana.

Paul F. Lindell, U.S.S. Cormorant, Navy Yard, Washington, D. C.

Leland Londoner, 510 S. Governor, Iowa City, Iowa.




Here is Mrs. Metcalf's winning letter:

"Picture the panel as the Sun, the point about which our planets move. You are Mars, your own planet. Move in the direction Mars would move in its trip around the Sun. That is right."

Mr. Kirkpatrick said:

"If you were outside of a circle, facing the way your planet turns, your side away from the circle is your right."

Mr. Knape's answer was:

"RIGHT is the direction of the magnetic field established above a wire with an electric current running in the direction away from you. ABOVE is that direction the door by which you entered now bears in relation to you."

* * * * *

WE received a flood of answers to this contest, and with answers that ranged over so wide a field of science (and lack of science) that we were positively amazed. So very many stumbled over the answer that had to do with the location of the Martian's heart. Perhaps it was on his left side. Most of the answers left an "if" or a "possibility of an alternative" standing in the way of winning a prize. Mr. Leland Londoner submitted seven correct answers, taking up 23 typewritten (single-space!) pages, with diagrams. But all were too complicated, and both Mars and Earth would have died while the processes were worked out. All in all, however, the contest was undoubtedly our most successful. We'll surely have more. So those of you who didn't win, watch our companion magazine, in the next few months, for a brand new contest, a very clever one, worked out by your favorite author, Don Wilcox. Until then, contestants, keep your pencils sharp! —The Editors.


THE END