This review was originally written for the blog In the Mouth of Dorkness in 2016. It was among my last reviews for that site. I hadn’t read a Gardner F. Fox novel in 20 years or so, having only read some of his comic book work in the intervening years.
Look, there were some very thoughtful science fiction stories being written throughout the Golden Age. This isn’t one. To the best of my knowledge, Gardner F. Fox didn’t write ‘thoughtful.’ He wrote a lot, and he wrote fun. His work was essentially a holdover from the pulps. This isn’t meant as a slight. He wrote a solid ripping yarn.
With The Arsenal of Miracles, we are thrust into a crazy future where Humanity and another humanoid species have clashed over habitable worlds. Both species live in the shadows of ancient aliens, and the secrets of those aliens become the crux of the book’s conflict.
There are a lot of fun ideas, if not a lot of character development, and not a heck of a lot of plot. There’s a dash of Edgar Rice Burroughs thrown to kick things up. And you can see a bit of Sword & Sorcery, especially in the early part of the book. The book drifts off the rails in the final stretch, though. It reaches a climax, but then meanders onto a second finale that is less than thrilling.
Fans of the genre will find plenty to like, and the early part of the book especially hints at very cool potential. It’s not a classic or a ‘must read.’ But it was fun.