THE DEATH RAYS OF ARDILLA
First Published on 5th March 1959 - 192 pages
NB - The character "Multavo" from the last book is inexplicably spelt "Multova" in this and all subsequent books. One can only assume it was a careless error made by Johns or the publishers.
Judkins the butler introduces two unexpected guests. Vargo and Multova have arrived at Glensalich Castle, ostensibly to fetch more tea, but they also tell our heroes, the Professor Brane, Tiger, Toby and Rex, about continuing problems with the planet Ardilla. The effects of the rays have been getting worse. A spaceship on a survey mission to the planet Petroconda has gone missing. Amongst the crew was a friend of Vargo's called Quantos and he, Vargo, now intends to lead a rescue mission. Our heroes ask to go with him. Returning to the Tavona, a 12 year old boy called Donald Macdonald is caught trying to stow away on the ship. He is sent on his way. Multova tells everybody of the strange world of Dacoona where nobody seems to die. The planet has a low birth rate and high accident mortality rate to compensate. The people work for a period of time equivalent to eight months of the year and sleep for four months. The people have an unusual gland that acts as a super-repair device. Landing for a short time on Mars, where the work to reinhabit the planet has continued to progress, the Tavona then goes on to Mino, and from there on to Petroconda. Here the lost spaceship is found, deserted. A search is organised and three bodies are found, savagely beaten to death. Quantos is not amongst the dead. Storm clouds start to quickly gather in the sky. Borron is seen in the distance with a figure. It is Quantos. They are signalling for everybody to return to the ship. Everybody reaches the ship just in time before huge lumps of hail fall, like bricks. Quantos tells his story, the hail had killed his companions and he had been trapped. Borron tells everybody about a previous visit he had made to the moon of Petroconda, which had been named Selinda. The place had been highly civilised but had been laid waste by something mysterious. After hearing the account, the Professor suspects it may have been radioactivity that was responsible and a decision is made to go and investigate. On Selinda a volcano is discovered that ejects black smoke every 15 seconds. The remains of the last survivor of Selinda are found. A form of radioactivity has killed the population and laid waste to the planet. The Tavona returns to Petroconda and then on to Mino. The Professor sets his mind to dealing with the problem of the rays emanating from Ardilla. The trip to Terromagna is now extremely difficult as the rays have extended their influence and Multova departs to return home. The Tavona follows as Rolto, a space captain known to our heroes, has also disappeared whilst trying to find a way through. A strange planet is found on the journey, that is not on any of the space charts. Landing on the planet, it is found to be exceptionally cold, but strange tunnels are also found. Here strange ant- like creatures are found. Whilst moving on to another planet to look for Rolto, which the Professor names Aquania, Rex and the others begin to feel the effects of Ardilla's rays. Gator comes up with the idea of out-distancing the ray, that is, travelling faster than the ray. Rolto is not found on Aquania, but it is discovered that he had been there, before the Tavona is almost swept away by a tidal wave. Landing on another unknown planet, our heroes are attacked by birds. Arriving at Terromagna, Multova is there to meet them. He tells them that the scientists of Terromagna have worked out a way of emitting a reflecting medium at Ardilla, to reflect back the rays. A satellite will be sent up by rocket to orbit Ardilla. Our heroes go to see the launch of the satellite. The project is successful and all of the rays are blocked. A message is then received from Rolto, who was being held prisoner on Ardilla. The people of Ardilla are in a state of panic now that their rays are being reflected back on themselves and they want peace. The problem solved, our heroes discuss their plans for the return journey home.
The Death Rays of Ardilla
Subtitle - The further adventures of Rex Clinton and his friends, with the crew of the spaceship TAVONA and how they helped to fight the evil intentions of the inhabitants of Ardilla.
Publication Details - published by Hodder and Stoughton
Click on the Frontispiece to enlarge it
Original first edition boards
There is, in fact, a band from Sheffield called “The Death Rays of Ardilla” – you can find out more at the link below