Wandering Through the Public Domain #25

A regular exploration of public domain genre work available through Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Librivox.

By Colleen McMahon: I had a vague memory that I began this little column/project last November, and just checked to make sure. Yes, the first “Wandering Through the Public Domain” was posted on November 16, 2018, so this will mark my first anniversary here. Thank you for reading and for your comments over the various columns, and thank you so much to Mike Glyer for hosting my natterings!

It’s been a fun project and I look forward to keeping it going for the foreseeable future. If you have any feedback or suggestions, and especially if you have sought out and enjoyed anything I’ve mentioned here, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As so often happens, I prepared to write today without any clear notion of what I wanted to do (though I have a document with author and topic ideas to rev my brain up when needed). And as so often also happens, I was gifted with a suggestion somewhat randomly.

A very recent Librivox release (described in detail below) is An Earthman on Venus by Ralph Milne Farley (1887-1963). When creating the listing for it, I had to look up Mr. Farley to get his birth and death dates, and found something interesting when I did. His Wikipedia entry was under the name Roger Sherman Hoar.

That in itself is not too surprising, since many authors use pseudonyms. What did catch my eye was Mr. Hoar’s day job — he was a state senator and assistant attorney general in Massachusetts. He was descended from a distinguished American family. His grandfather had served as a U.S. Attorney General, and his great-great-grandfather was Roger Sherman, founding father and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Hoar was a graduate of Harvard for both his undergraduate degree (1909) and law school (1911). The same year that he finished law school, 1911, he began serving in the Massachusetts state senate, although I could not find any detail about the circumstances as to whether he was elected or appointed and how long he served. He continued to have a distinguished career in law in Massachusetts and later in Wisconsin, as well as taking a turn into engineering and teaching.

Hoar also began writing and publishing at a young age. He wrote multiple books about law, mainly business law, under his own name. He published a tariff manual in 1912 and a book about constitutional conventions in 1917.

Meanwhile, he was turning out pulp fiction stories and novels, with most of his work being published between the world wars. After he moved to Wisconsin, he joined the Milwaukee Fictioneers, whose members also included Robert Bloch and Stanley G. Weinbaum (both of whom were covered, coincidentally, in Wandering Through the Public Domain #13)

His most famous works were a series of “Radio Man” stories published through the 1920s and 1930s, beginning with 1924’s “The Radio Man”. The stories began as serials in magazines like Argosy and Amazing, but found a wider readership when they were reprinted as paperback novels in the 1950s. 

There are three Farley works available through Project Gutenberg:

As mentioned below, An Earthman on Venus was just released on Librivox, and The Radio Planet is currently listed as “in progress”. “The Danger from the Deep” is included in the recording of the complete August 1931 Astounding Stories issue.

Recent Librivox releases:

  • An Earthman on Venus by Ralph Milne Farley (1887-1963)

    When Myles Cabot accidentally transmitted himself to the planet Venus, he found himself naked and bewildered on a mystery world where every unguarded minute might mean a horrible death.

    Man-eating plants, tiger-sized spiders, and dictatorial ant-men kept Myles on the run until he discovered the secret of the land—that humanity was a slave-race and that the monster ants were the real rulers of the world!

    But Cabot was resourceful, and when his new found love, the Kewpie-doll princess Lilla, called for help, the ant-men learned what an angry Earthman can do.

    An Earthman on Venus was originally published as The Radio Man in 1924.


  • The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (Dramatic Reading) by Hugh Lofting (1886-1947)

    Doctor John Dolittle is an animal doctor and famous naturalist whose success hinges on his ability to speak the languages of many different kinds of animals. This book, the second Dr. Dolittle adventure, is narrated by Tommy Stubbins, who meets the Doctor after finding an injured squirrel. Stubbins becomes interested in the Doctor’s work and has the opportunity to travel with him and several animal companions to a mysterious floating island called Spidermonkey Island.

  • The Green Odyssey (Version 2) by Philip Jose Farmer (1918-2009)

    A rip-roaring, pulpy and quirky space odyssey for your listening pleasure. Follow earth man Allen Green as his space ship fails and leaves him on a barbaric planet filled with other human descendants who have reverted to pre-technology existence. Naturally he is made a slave and must connive, plan, love and fight his way across 10,000 miles of danger to freedom. Full of strange beings, this planet highlights the amazing imagination of Philip Jose Farmer and his ability to make it scary and fun at the same time.

3 thoughts on “Wandering Through the Public Domain #25

  1. I remember finding An Earthman on Venus in my father’s collection while I was reading my way through it as a young teen. It fit in well with all the Edgar Rice Burroughs books. Interesting to read of his day job.

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