Short Reviews – The Jewels of Chamar, by Raymond F. Jones

Friday , 16, March 2018 9 Comments

The Jewels of Chamar, by Raymond F. Jones, appeared in the Winter 1946 issue of Planet Stories. It can be read here at Archive.org.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

“When you have looked into the blue depths of a stone that is like the eye of all the universe you’ll never be able to turn your back upon it. You’ll never rest until you have found all seven of the Jewels—or death.”

The Seven Jewels of Chamar is one of those stories that I’d say “Man, this would make a fantastic anime! Or a fantastic comic book! Or a fantastic comic book movie!” Of course, if it were, it would be accused of either ripping off Dragonball or the Infinity Wars depending on the direction you went with it. But, boy, what a yarn! This one was certainly the highlight of the Winter 1946 issue, fulfilling many of the promises that Tepondicon made but couldn’t quite deliver on.

The Seven Jewels of Chamar has space pirates, light sabers, a sexy immortal pirate queen, action, a brotherhood betrayed, and a high-speed chase as the hero fulfills his father’s dying wish to find all seven of the mysterious stones.

Nathan Ormondy’s father, Thymar, spent his life pursuing the Jewels of Chamar. At one point, he managed to get his hands on as many as three of them, and knows the deadly pirate Firebird has two. But Thymar has been murdered, and the stone he had with him was stolen, assuredly by the person who killed him. With his final breath, Thymar instructs Nathan where to find his other two stone, his dying utterance: “Nothing matters but the Jewels of Chamar. Take them—and become master of the universe!”

Tabor, Thymar’s adventuring companion, comforts Nathan and warns him to be on the lookout for Firebird, Thymar’s old rival:

“Watch out for Firebird. She’s on Venus now, and your father must have had a reason for his warning.”

 

“Bah! She’s nothing but a Calamity Jane legend. Have you ever traded flames with her?”

 

“I’ve seen men who have. They weren’t alive to tell about it.”

 

“Spacemen dislike combat with a woman so you’ve built up a myth about her to give an excuse for not killing her. But if she is the one who killed my father she’s going to pay for it.”

 

“Then why not let the police bring her in?”

 

“What police? Four planets have put a price on her head and she walks free in the cities of any of them.”

Nathan heads to the cave where his father has stashed the other two Infinity Balls, only to be trapped when an explosion seals him in. The mysterious Firebird confronts him and offers to help him recover the three missing gems; she demonstrates that while she could have easily killed him, she won’t—and with four of the jewels between them, it would be better to hunt the rest down together… and search for Thymar’s real killer.

This is a really cool story, and Firebird is a big part of what makes it so awesome. She’s the sort of character that you actually see a lot of in the pulps, even though you hear women in pulps are usually shrieking damsels. This girl is a Hot Ice Hilda, a supernaturally tough pirate chick who could out-shoot nearly anybody in the solar system. She is sexy and dangerous and you want to be near her—but to be near her, you’ve got to step your game up, because it’s a world of the quick and the dead that she’s earned her name in. Therefore, a character like Nathan has GOT to be pretty badass and hold his own in some tough spots to hang with this chick!

This is a tough trope for a lot of folks to deal with, I think. It’s easy to go too far one way or the other, where you have the infallible action girl who makes the dude look like a shlubb, or the woman suffers from the Worf Effect, where she looks tough but gets KO’d to show just how bad things are. The trick is to find that sweet spot, and I think that Jewels of Chamar really nails its.

9 Comments
  • deuce says:

    Now THIS sounds like what I want from a Planet Stories tale.

  • Nicholas Archer says:

    I am definitely going to read this and share it with a friend or two. By the way am I crazy or does Firebird kind of look like Wonder Woman in that picture?

  • PC Bushi says:

    I had someone ask me once about old, pre-SW stories that used lightsabers. My reaction was basically “I dunno, go ask Cirsova.” =P

    Seriously, should start a running list.

  • deuce says:

    Doc Smith had lightsabers in his space operas. The concept has deep roots.

  • Man of the Atom says:

    Careful readers will note:

    “Nathan Ormondy shot first.”

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