The Mightiest Machine

Last updated
The Mightiest Machine
Mightiest machine.jpg
Dust-jacket from the first edition
Author John W. Campbell, Jr.
IllustratorR. Pailthorpe
Cover artistBetty Wells Halladay
CountryUnited States
Genre Science fiction
Publisher The Hadley Publishing Co.
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback)
OCLC 2737057
Followed by The Incredible Planet  

The Mightiest Machine is a science fiction novel by American writer John W. Campbell, Jr. The novel was originally serialized in 5 parts in Astounding Stories magazine from December 1934 to April 1935, and was published in book form in 1947 by The Hadley Publishing Co. in an edition of 1,200 copies. Campbell was a leading figure in the Golden Age of Science Fiction.

Science fiction genre of fiction

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction, typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas".

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1947.

The first Golden Age of Science Fiction, often recognized in the United States as the period from 1938 to 1946, was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the "pulp era" of the 1920s and 1930s, and precedes New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 1970s. The 1950s are a transitional period in this scheme; however, Robert Silverberg, who came of age in the 1950s, saw that decade as the true Golden Age.


Plot introduction

The story is the first to feature Campbell's hero Aarn Munro.This space opera novel concerns the harnessing of energy from the sun and encounters with aliens who turn out not to be truly alien at all. It also touches on the legends of ancient civilizations on earth, Mu in this case, and what may have happened to them.

Space opera subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes romantic, often focused on adventures

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, chivalric romance, and risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology. The term has no relation to music, but is instead a play on the terms "soap opera" and "horse opera", the latter of which was coined during the 1930s to indicate clichéd and formulaic Western movies. Space operas emerged in the 1930s and continue to be produced in literature, film, comics, television and video games.

Mu (lost continent) hypothetical lost continent, existance proposed by Augustus Le Plongeon

Mu is the name of a suggested lost continent whose concept and name were proposed by 19th-century traveler and writer Augustus Le Plongeon, who claimed that several ancient civilizations, such as those of Egypt and Mesoamerica, were created by refugees from Mu—which he stated was located in the Atlantic Ocean. This concept was popularized and expanded by James Churchward, who asserted that Mu was once located in the Pacific.


Astounding reviewer P. Schuyler Miller described the 1947 edition as "perhaps the climax of the super-physics school of science fiction which 'Skylark' Smith had started." [1] Everett F. Bleiler identified the novel as the paradigm of "the Campbell hard space opera," noting its "great quantity of fanciful and ingenious scientific extrapolations, fictional weaknesses, and polarized social simplistics that regard genocide with equanimity." [2]

P. Schuyler Miller American writer

Peter Schuyler Miller was an American science fiction writer and critic.

E. E. Smith Food engineer and author (1890-1965)

Edward Elmer Smith, better known by his pen name E. E. "Doc" Smith, was an American food engineer and science-fiction author, best known for the Lensman and Skylark series. He is sometimes called the father of space opera.

Related Research Articles

T. E. Dikty American writer

Thaddeus Maxim Eugene (Ted) Dikty was an American editor who also played a role as one of the earliest science fiction anthologists, and as a publisher.

Hiram Gilmore "Harry" Bates III was an American science fiction editor and writer. His short story "Farewell to the Master" (1940) was the basis of the well-known science fiction movie The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

John W. Campbell bibliography

This is a bibliography of works by American writer John W. Campbell, Jr.

Everett Franklin Bleiler was an American editor, bibliographer, and scholar of science fiction, detective fiction, and fantasy literature. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he co-edited the first "year's best" series of science fiction anthologies, and his Checklist of Fantastic Literature has been called "the foundation of modern SF bibliography". Among his other scholarly works are two Hugo Award–nominated volumes concerning early science fiction—Science-Fiction: The Early Years and Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years—and the massive Guide to Supernatural Fiction.

<i>The Legion of Space</i> book by Jack Williamson

The Legion of Space is a science fiction novel by the American writer Jack Williamson. It was originally serialized in Astounding Stories in 1934, then published in book form by Fantasy Press in 1947 in an edition of 2,970 copies. A magazine-sized reprint was issued by Galaxy in 1950, with a standard paperback following from Pyramid Books in 1967. The first British edition was published by Sphere Books in 1977. The Legion of Space has been translated into German, French and Italian. It has also appeared in the omnibus Three from the Legion, which compiles the novel and all but one of its sequels.

<i>Invaders from the Infinite</i> book by John W. Campbell

Invaders from the Infinite is a science fiction novel by American writer John W. Campbell, Jr.. It was simultaneously published in 1961 by Gnome Press in an edition of 4,000 copies and by Fantasy Press in an edition of 100 copies. The book was originally intended to be published by Fantasy Press, but was handed over to Gnome Press when Fantasy Press folded. Lloyd Eshbach, of Fantasy Press, who was responsible for the printing of both editions, printed the extra copies for his longtime customers. The Fantasy Press edition was issued without a dust-jacket. Eshbach eventually did produce a jacket in 1990 at the urging of George Zebrowski. The novel is an expansion of stories that originally appeared in the magazine Amazing Stories Quarterly.

<i>Triplanetary</i> (novel) book by Edward Elmer Smith

Triplanetary is a science fiction novel and space opera by American writer E. E. Smith. It was first serialized in the magazine Amazing Stories in 1934. After the original four novels of the Lensman series were published, Smith expanded and reworked Triplanetary into the first of two prequels for the series. The expanded Triplanetary was published in book form in 1948 by Fantasy Press. The second prequel, First Lensman, was a new original novel published in 1950 by Fantasy Press.

<i>The Incredible Planet</i> book by John W. Campbell

The Incredible Planet is a science fiction fix-up novel by American author John W. Campbell, Jr.. It was published in 1949 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 3,998 copies. The novel is a collection of three linked novelettes that were not accepted for the magazine Astounding SF. The stories are sequels to Campbell's 1934 novel The Mightiest Machine.

<i>The Bridge of Light</i> book by Alpheus Hyatt Verrill

The Bridge of Light is a science fiction novel by author A. Hyatt Verrill. It was originally published in the Fall 1929 edition of the pulp magazine Amazing Stories Quarterly. It was subsequently republished in book form in 1950 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 2,556 copies. In all, A. Hyatt Verrill published 26 tales in Amazing Stories during the years 1926 to 1935.

<i>The Moon Is Hell!</i> book by John W. Campbell

The Moon Is Hell! is a collection of science fiction stories by American writer John W. Campbell, Jr.. It was published in 1950 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 4,206 copies. The title story deals with a team of scientists stranded on the Moon when their spacecraft crashes, and how they use their combined skills and knowledge to survive until rescue, including building shelter from meteor showers, and creating their own oxygen from Lunar rock. The second story, "The Elder Gods" Campbell rewrote, on a short deadline, from a story by Arthur J. Burks purchased for Unknown but later deemed unsatisfactory. It originally appeared in that magazine under the pseudonym Don A. Stuart. The title of the eponymous story is generally reported without the exclamation point, although the punctuation is used for the title of most editions of the collection itself.

<i>The Crystal Horde</i> book by Eric Temple Bell

The Crystal Horde is a science fiction novel by American writer John Taine. It was first published in book form in 1952 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 2,328 copies. The novel is substantially rewritten from a version that originally appeared in the magazine Amazing Stories Quarterly in 1930 under the title White Lily.

<i>The Black Star Passes</i> book by John W. Campbell

The Black Star Passes is a collection of science fiction short stories by American author John W. Campbell, Jr.. It was first published in 1953 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 2,951 copies. The book is the first in Campbell's Arcot, Morey and Wade series. The stories originally appeared in the magazines Amazing Stories and Amazing Stories Quarterly, and were "extensively edited" for book publication, with Campbell's approval, by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach.

<i>Islands of Space</i> book by John W. Campbell

Islands of Space is a science fiction novel by American writer John W. Campbell, Jr. It was first published in book form in 1957 by Fantasy Press in an edition of 1,417 copies. The novel originally appeared in the magazine Amazing Stories Quarterly; the text was "extensively edited" for book publication, with Campbell's approval, by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. A paperback edition was published by Ace Books in 1966. In 1973, Islands was included in a Doubleday omnibus of all three "Arcot, Wade, and Morey" novels. A German translation appeared in 1967 as Kosmische Kreuzfahrt, and an Italian translation was published in 1976 as Isole nello spazio.

<i>The Heads of Cerberus</i> book by Gertrude Barrows Bennett

The Heads of Cerberus is a science fiction novel by American writer Francis Stevens. It was first published in book form in 1952 by Polaris Press in an edition of 1,563 copies. It was the first book published by Polaris Press. The novel was originally serialized in the pulp magazine The Thrill Book in 1919. A scholarly reprint edition was issued by Arno Press in 1978, and a mass market paperback by Carroll & Graf in 1984.

<i>The Abyss of Wonders</i> book by Perley Poore Sheehan

The Abyss of Wonders is a science fiction novel by American writer Perley Poore Sheehan. It was first published in book form in 1953 by Polaris Press in an edition of 990 copies. It was the second and final book published by Polaris Press and included an introduction by P. Schuyler Miller. The novel originally appeared in the magazine Argosy in 1915.

<i>The Time Stream</i> book by Eric Temple Bell

The Time Stream is a science fiction novel by American writer John Taine. The novel was originally serialized in four parts in the magazine Wonder Stories beginning in December 1931. It was first published in book form in 1946 by The Buffalo Book Company in an edition of 2,000 copies of which only 500 were ever bound. It is the first novel to see time as a flowing stream.

<i>The Blind Spot</i> book by Austin Hall

The Blind Spot is a science fiction novel by American writers Austin Hall and Homer Eon Flint. The novel was originally serialized in six parts in the magazine Argosy beginning in May 1921. It was first published in book form in 1951 by Prime Press in an edition of 1,500 copies, though fewer than 800 were bound and the remainder are assumed lost. The sequel, The Spot of Life, was written by Hall alone.

<i>Drome</i> (novel) fantasy novel by John Martin Leahy

Drome is a fantasy novel, written and illustrated by John Martin Leahy. It was first published in book form in 1952 by Fantasy Publishing Company, Inc. in an edition of 1,000 copies. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Weird Tales in five parts beginning January 1927.

<i>The Incomplete Enchanter</i> book by Lyon Sprague de Camp

The Incomplete Enchanter is a collection of two fantasy novellas by American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, the first volume in their Harold Shea series. The pieces were originally published in the magazine Unknown in the issues for May and August 1940. The collection was first published in hardcover by Henry Holt and Company in 1941 and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960.

<i>Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories</i> US pulp science fiction magazine

Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories was a pulp science fiction magazine which published two issues in 1931. The fiction was unremarkable, but the cover art and illustrations, by Elliott Dold, were high quality, and have made the magazine a collector's item. The magazine ceased publication when Dold became ill and was unable to continue his duties both as editor and artist.


  1. "Book Reviews", Astounding, November 1950, p.94
  2. Everett F. Bleiler, Science-Fiction: The Gernsback Years, Kent State University Press, 1998, p.59

Technology and Plot Devices

The novel is ground breaking in its inclusion of a wide range of advanced technology including space travel concepts such as Artificial gravity, Faster-than-light travel with Warp drive, and an early version of travel through Wormholes as important facets of the story. The protagonist also invents and employs devices such as Infrared vision googles and miniature remotely piloted surveillance drones.

Artificial gravity

Artificial gravity is the creation of an inertial force that mimics the effects of a gravitational force, usually by rotation. Artificial gravity, or rotational gravity, is thus the appearance of a centrifugal force in a rotating frame of reference, as opposed to the force experienced in linear acceleration, which by the equivalence principle is indistinguishable from gravity. In a more general sense, "artificial gravity" may also refer to the effect of linear acceleration, e.g. by means of a rocket engine..

Faster-than-light communication and travel are the conjectural propagation of information or matter faster than the speed of light.

Warp drive hypothetical and fictional faster-than-light technology

A warp drive is a fictitious superluminal spacecraft propulsion system in many science fiction works, most notably Star Trek. A spacecraft equipped with a warp drive may travel at speeds greater than that of light by many orders of magnitude. In contrast to some other fictitious FTL technologies such as a jump drive, the warp drive does not permit instantaneous travel between two points, but rather involves a measurable passage of time which is pertinent to the concept. In contrast to hyperdrive, spacecraft at warp velocity would continue to interact with objects in "normal space." The general concept of "warp drive" was introduced by John W. Campbell in his 1931 novel Islands of Space.


The novel contains the first known use of the phrase, " infinity and beyond...," although it is unlikely the reference was picked up from by authors of Toy Story for use by Buzz Lightyear. Chapter V: "Her crew on that trip that was to lead them to infinity and beyond consisted of Aarn Munro,..."

<i>Toy Story</i> 1995 American animated film directed by John Lasseter

Toy Story is a 1995 American computer-animated buddy adventure comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The feature-film directorial debut of John Lasseter, it was the first feature-length film to be entirely computer-animated, as well as the first feature film from Pixar. The screenplay was written by Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, and Alec Sokolow from a story by Lasseter, Pete Docter, Stanton, and Joe Ranft. The film features music by Randy Newman, and was executive-produced by Steve Jobs and Edwin Catmull. The film features the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Jim Varney, Annie Potts, R. Lee Ermey, John Morris, Laurie Metcalf and Erik von Detten. Taking place in a world where anthropomorphic toys come to life when humans are not present, its plot focuses on the relationship between an old-fashioned pullstring cowboy doll named Woody and an astronaut action figure Buzz Lightyear as they evolve from rivals competing for the affections of their owner Andy, to friends who work together to be reunited with him after being separated from him.

Buzz Lightyear Toy Story character

Buzz Lightyear is a fictional character in the Toy Story franchise. He is a toy Space Ranger superhero according to the movies and an action figure in the franchise. Along with Sheriff Woody, he is one of the two lead characters in all three Toy Story movies. He also appeared in the movie Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins and the television series spin-off Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.


Jack L. Chalker American author

Jack Laurence Chalker was an American science fiction author. Chalker was also a Baltimore City Schools history teacher in Maryland for 12 years, retiring during 1978 to write full-time. He also was a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society.

Donald Henry Tuck was a bibliographer of science fiction, fantasy and weird fiction. His works were "among the most extensive produced since the pioneering work of Everett F. Bleiler."

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.