Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Commentary On The Free Old School Science Fiction Classic - The Ant Men Eric North 1955 For Your Old School Science Fiction Campaign

Grab It Right Over

 The Ant Men from the pen of Eric North is another Winston science fiction book offering and this one is a great pulp old school resource. The book would make perfect fodder for both a space based game and a post apocalyptic old school romp.
The book screams pulp from the moment you open it and launches into its high weirdness. There's everything a DM could want to grab a group of adventurers.

 The Blurb On The Inside Flap Of The Book : 
There's a feeling about this desert which frankly suggests...impossible things. That's the only way I can put it."

The feeling that Professor Silas Orcutt, an American geologist, refers to early in this story, is one that every reader of this rugged and thrilling science fiction novel will share with him after the very first page. The professor, head of a party of five studying geological formations in the Central Australian desert, thought back on the nightmare of shifting sand and crackling electrical charges that had wrecked the truck in which his party was traveling. He thought, too, of the skeleton of a freshly killed crocodile - found hundreds of miles from the nearest river - and the stench of formic acid that remained around its picked-clean bones.

The professor's intrepid little group was prepared to find fossils in the Australian rock strata - but not the living kind that shocked them into believing the impossible of the burnt-out lands of the continent down under. Trapped in a desert valley under the pitiless sun, the five found themselves face to face with six-foot-tall ants and deadly giant mantises: survivors from before the dawn of history. Locked in a harrowing war for survival, these deadly creatures had little use for the puny men who found themselves in the midst of an insect war!

How Professor Orcutt was captured by ants with curiously manlike characteristics; how the members of his party found him and investigated the huge underground ant city; how they helped defend the ant men's ghostly underground caverns make this a completely gripping novel capped with a taut and electrifying climax sure to please readers of every age.

Let's start with 
Professor Silas Orcutt, an American geologist who seems like he's stepped out of an adventure party. Everything about this guy just jumps out with a great NPC to get a party of adventurers into all kinds of trouble. Transport him into a space base game like X plorer and he's the type of guy who will have alien ruins around one corner or a lost planet of insects around the other.
Speaking of insects the antmen themselves make a great alien species for Stars Without Number or as a wasteland find in Mutant Future. The book goes into some very nice graphic details about these humanoids and their world. The praying mantises are perfect nasties to pick off your adventurers. All in all this is a pretty nice free resource that can be used for a wide variety of venues. Because it's from 1955 there are very few folks who've actually heard of this one. 


  1. Just re-watched THEM! on dvd a little while ago, for research purposes, so this was a delight to discover. I never saw any of these Winston books growing up--but I wish I had. This one in particular sounds like a lot of fun--and i like how ti dovetails into the Pnakotic ruins from HPL's Shadow Out of Time, etc. I'm going to download this book and read it later this week--I know I'll need to revise my stuff on ants again once I've read it. Thanks for pointing out such a great resource!

  2. Glad you like it Garrison James! Its an old favorite of mine and the locations dovetail quite nicely into a number of Lovecraft sources. I was tempted to use it for CoC but I think that the book has a number of nice old school OSR themes in its background.
    The Shadow Out of Time has its tendrils throughout the book in some regards because of the location, ideas, and themes of the story. I don't don't know if its by design or happy accident but it seems to have a Pnakotic echo throughout. I've got plans with it that go with an upcoming Mutant Epoch campaign I've got coming up. There's more to come!

  3. I think Trey this book could be used as fodder for your City book and the upcoming addition to the campaign that you've got cooking. I'm glad you like it pal. Enjoy.


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