Arthur K. Barnes started with a novelette in a 1931 issue of Hugo Gernsback’s Wonder Stories. He wasn’t quite 22 at the time. Most of his later work appeared in Thrilling Wonder Stories, a second tier magazine with a distinctly juvenile audience. He only managed to break through to the big-time, Astounding Stories, once, and that was both pre-Campbell and under a pseudonym. He stopped writing in 1946, with nothing appearing for the next 23 years of his life. He never wrote an f&sf novel. He is known, if at all, only for these stories about Gerry Carlyle, a hunter for an interplanetary zoo. “Catch-’em-alive” Carlyle was unquestionably based on “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” hunter Frank Buck, a superstar in the 1930s, with one notable difference: Carlyle was a woman.
Unless Marty Greenberg deliberately dredged up these creaking oldies to give girls a book starring a heroine, his bringing them back into print is as baffling as any other odd Gnome decision, perhaps more so given that almost all the surrounding books in the mid-50s were newer works by younger authors. Perhaps he thought of the book as another young adult adventure that would appeal to libraries. Or it might be the pictures.
Each of the five stories is introduced by a page of drawings illustrating the weird animals Carlyle’s interplanetary ship, The Ark, encounters on the four planets and one comet she travels to. CHALKER states that Ed Emsh did the interior drawings and W. I. [Washington Irving] Van der Poel simply copied and pasted a few when he designed the cover, his first of 16 for Gnome. He was the art director at Galaxy but never did any other book covers. Four additional stories about the character had to wait until 2009 when they were included in The Complete Interplanetary Huntress.
Though it is not mentioned anywhere within the book, “Almussen’s Comet” was a collaboration with Henry Kuttner and also featured his character Tony Quade, from his Hollywood on the Moon series.
Floyd C. Gale reviewed the book for the October 1956 Galaxy:
Astonishingly, these stories are still surprisingly readable.
Contents and original publication:
• “Venus,” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, October 1937, as “The Hothouse Planet”)
• “Jupiter,” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, October 1938, as “Satellite Five”)
• “Neptune,” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1946, as “Siren Satellite”)
• “Almussen’s Comet,” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, May 1940, as by Henry Kuttner and Arthur K. Barnes)
• “Saturn,” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, February 1941, as “Trouble on Titan”)
Interplanetary Hunter, by Arthur K. Barnes, 1956, title #58, 231 pages, $3.00. 4000 hardbound copies printed. Gray cloth with red lettering. Jacket Design by Ed Emsh and W. I. Van der Poel. “First Edition” stated on copyright page. Manufactured in the U.S.A. by H. Wolff, New York. Back cover: 36 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th Street, New York 3