Those strange, impassioned orators preached peace and the brotherhood of man—as they tongue-lashed their eager, duped recruits to brutal deeds, bloody violence, and suicide… While dull-witted authorities ridiculed Jimmy Christopher—Operator 5 of the Secret Service—the Dragon Emperor ruthlessly conquered New England… When America seemed altogether doomed—when his loved ones had sacrificed themselves in vain—Operator 5 undertook one last, lone-handed counterattack—from which he could not hope to return alive!
“Rockets from Hell” is the twenty-third Operator 5 novel, originally published in February 1936. This novel would appear to be Tepperman’s third contribution to the Operator 5 magazine.
The enemy is the Dragon Master, although he is not truly revealed until later in the novel. The attack on the US is initially three-pronged:
- Huge rockets originating from an unknown location steered by suicide pilots are destroying military installations throughout the northeast. The rockets appear to be chemical, not nuclear based, but have tremendous destruction capacity. One rocket can destroy a complete military installation plus any nearby ships.
- A fleet of ocean liners deliver troops to the northeast.
- People are converted to a peace movement to lower morale. It is hard to imagine a peace movement being successful in a US being attacked as much as Operator 5’s US… last month, New York City was attacked for several days; the month before that we saw parts of Texas occupied; two months before that, many major US cities were conquered; etc.
With a wild rapidity of military-base destruction, the US is giving a choice of surrendering Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island or have the cities of Bangor, Concord, Boston, and Providence destroyed. Since the US has no defense against the rockets, it agrees to these terms.
About half-way through the novel, the mechanisms used by the Dragon Master leading up to the attack on the US are revealed by Operator 5. These mechanisms are so incredible that one of the other characters actually note their improbability. Some of them include: The Dragon Master is a Yugoslavian professor who had started a failed revolution in his home country, captured, escaped, designed the huge rocket bombs, contracted leprosy, sent to a leprosy colony, escaped it, stole many ships being used for trade with South America, and liberated jailed prisoners, including over 2,000 from French Guiana.
Eventually, though, Operator 5 learns the whereabouts of the Dragon Master’s main operation center and launching center for the rockets. Using an explosive with Tim Donovan’s help, the many rocket bombs ignited thereby destroying the facility.
Could the Dragon Master have accomplished his successful invasion of the US? As improbable as it might be, he could have done so if he could have done all that he did in this novel. The US had no way to stop the Dragon Master’s bombs.
Could Operator 5 have stopped the Dragon Master? In many ways, the Dragon Master was really just another super-criminal. So, the countermeasures employed by Operator 5 made sense.
Another good Operator 5 tale! With the above caveats, this tale is recommended.