The Doomsday Planet
Author: Harl Vincent
Cover Art: ?
First Published: 1966
Reviewed Edition: Tower 42-621 (1966)
Harl Vincent was the pen-name of mechanical engineer, Harold Schoepflin (1893-1968). He was a regular contributor to science fiction pulps from 1928 until 1942. For some reason (I haven’t been able to find out why) he ceased publishing, but remained involved with science fiction. Late in life, Vincent resumed writing. The Doomsday Planet is one of these later efforts.
The book attempts to combine space travel science-fiction with the slow-build tension of horror. It almost works. The plot centers around a manned mission to space, which gets sidetracked as a previous mission had by a pull the planet, Ormin.
Vincent does a masterful job building the tension as the ship maneuvers slowly closer and closer to the mysterious Ormin. It has all the obstacles you would expect from a “mission in space” book from the time. Much of the plot, dialogue, and characters are clichéd…they were even in 1966. The storyteller Vincent had been through the thirties shows a little rust here.
This is an average book by an above-average science-fiction writer. I would not recommend this as an introduction to Vincent’s writing, but it is worthy of remembrance. I wish he had emphasized the creepy aspects of the book a little more…