Cold War “X” Fiction

By: Joshua Glenn
September 7, 2010

x book nebula x

I’ve been gratified by the response to my FILE-X posts (published this summer, here at HiLobrow). Readers interested in starting their own collection of “X” paperbacks might find the following notes taken during my (rather desultory) research helpful. Please send cover scans of your own “X” books!

PS: My interest is in Cold War-era (i.e., from the end of WWII through détente) “X” paperbacks, hence the periodization that follows. PPS: I don’t own copies of every title listed here, only the ones featured in the FILE-X series plus a few others.

TOP 450 ADVENTURES — BY SUBGENRE: 101 Science Fiction Adventures | 70 Crime Adventures | 65 Fantasy Adventures | 61 Espionage Adventures | 40 Atavistic & Historical Adventures | 25 Frontier & Western Adventures | 20 Avenger & Artful Dodger Adventures | 20 Apophenic & Treasure Hunt Adventures | 20 War & Ruritanian Adventures | 18 Picaresque Adventures | 10 Robinsonade & Survival Adventures |

MORE LIT LISTS FROM THIS AUTHOR: 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time | 100 Best Radium Age Sci-Fi Novels (1904–1933) | 75 Best Golden Age Sci-Fi Novels (1934–1963) | 75 Best New Wave Sci-Fi Novels (1964–1983) | 55 Best Scientific Romances (1864–1903) | Best 19th Century Adventure (1805–1903) | Best Nineteen-Oughts Adventure (1904–13) | Best Nineteen-Teens Adventure (1914–23) | Best Twenties Adventure (1924–33) | Best Thirties Adventure (1934–43) | Best Forties Adventure (1944–53) | Best Fifties Adventure (1954–63) | Best Sixties Adventure (1964–73) | Best Seventies Adventure (1974–83) | 101 Science Fiction Adventures | 70 Crime Adventures | 65 Fantasy Adventures | 61 Espionage Adventures | 40 Atavistic & Historical Adventures | 25 Frontier & Western Adventures | 20 Avenger & Artful Dodger Adventures | 20 Apophenic & Treasure Hunt Adventures | 20 War & Ruritanian Adventures | 18 Picaresque Adventures | 10 Robinsonade & Survival Adventures. ALSO: Best YYA Lit 1963 | Best YYA Lit 1964 | Best YYA Lit 1965 | Best YYA Lit 1966 | Best YYA Lit 1967 | THE OUGHTS (1904–13): 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913. THE TEENS (1914–23): 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923. THE TWENTIES (1924–33): 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933. THE THIRTIES (1934–43): 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1938 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943. THE FORTIES (1944–53): 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953. THE FIFTIES (1954–63): 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963. THE SIXTIES (1964–73): 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973. THE SEVENTIES (1974–83): 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983. | Best Scottish Fabulists | Radium-Age Telepath Lit | Radium Age Superman Lit | Radium Age Robot Lit | Radium Age Apocalypse Lit | Radium Age Eco-Catastrophe Lit | Radium Age Cover Art (1) | SF’s Best Year Ever: 1912 | Cold War “X” Fic | Best YA Sci-Fi | Hooker Lit | No-Fault Eco-Catastrophe Lit | Scrabble Lit |

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PRE-COLD WAR

Mostly mysteries, though Hodgson’s Dream of X is Radium Age science fiction. Note that titles published before 1935 or so are not paperbacks.

Dream of X (1912), by William Hope Hodgson.

Kate Plus X (1917), by Edgar Wallace.

X Marks the Spot (1924), by Lee Thayer.

X Esquire (1927), by Leslie Charteris.

Dangerous Mr. X (1929), by Francis Duncan.

The Tragedy of X (1932, later pub. as by Ellery Queen), by Barnaby Ross.

X v. Rex (1933; pub. 1934 as The Mystery of Mr. X; later pub. as by Philip MacDonald), by Martin Porlock. See Warrant for X, below.

Young Mr. X (1933), by Elizabeth Jordan.

Minus X (1933), by Sinclair Gluck.

The Menace of X (1936), by Alex Kahn.

X Jones of Scotland Yard (1936), by Harry Stephen Keeler.

X Plus Y (1936), by E.F. Bozman.

Mr. X (1937), by Griffin Jay.

Let X Equal Marjorie (1938), by Edward Hope.

Miss X (1939), by Sefton Kyle.

The Search for X – Y – Z (1943), by Harry Stephen Keeler.

X Marks the Dot (1943), by Muriel Stafford.

The FORTIES (1944-53; Cold War begins in ’45)

Mostly mysteries, with a few science fictions.

Virus X (1945), by Sydney Horler. See The Mystery of Mr. X, below.

Warrant for X (1945; first pub. 1938 as The Nursemaid Who Disappeared), by Philip MacDonald. See X v. Rex, above.

Let X Be the Murderer : A Novel of Detection (1947), by Clifford Witting.

The Spot Marked X (1948), by Berkeley Gray.

Professor X. Kriminalroman. G-Man Jack Kelly-Romane. (1948), by Hermann Hilgendorff.

Nebula X (1950), by Vargo Statten.

Laboratory X (1950), by David Shaw.

Duchess Double X (1951), by Carter Brown.

The Mystery of Mr. X (1951), by Sydney Horler. See Virus X, above.

The Story of Professor X (1951), by Jackson Budd.

Planet X (1951), by Gill Hunt.

Six Against Mr. X (1952), by Arthur Graham.

X’s Page (1952), by Nathan Miller.

The Death of Miss X (1952; first pub. 1951 as Strangle Hold), by Mary McMullen.

The “X” People (1953), by Vektis Brack.

THE FIFTIES (1954-63)

All science fiction — except for Frazer’s Nurse Lily and Mister X, which is romance/mystery.

Tomorrow Plus X (1957; first pub. 1955 as Time Bomb), by Wilson Tucker.

The Strange World of Planet X (1957), by Rene Ray.

People Minus X (1958), by Raymond Z. Gallun.

The Big X (1959), by Hank Searls.

The Face of X (1960), by Lionel Roberts. See Zero Minus X, below.

Der rätselhafte Planet X (1960), by K. Wright.

Venus Plus X (1960), by Theodore Sturgeon.

Nurse Lily and Mister X (1961), by Diane Frazer.

Tom Swift and the Visitor from Planet X (1961), by Victor Appleton II. See The Man from Planet X No. 2: Tiger by the Tail, below.

Let X Equal Murder (1961), by Evelyn Healey.

Zero Minus X (1962), by Karl Zeigfreid. See The Face of X, above.

Echo X (1962; first pub. 1960 as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star), by Ben Barzman.

X (1963), an adaptation by Eunice Sudak of the 1963 movie of that title.

THE SIXTIES (1964-73; détente achieved in 1970)

Mostly science fiction, though some espionage thrillers appear here, too. Of course, some insist that espionage thrillers featuring advanced technology are a subgenre of SF…

Vote “X” for Treason (1964), by Brian Talbot Cleeve.

The X Factor (1965), by Andre Norton.

Night in Kings X (1965), by John Severns.

Assignment X: Top Secret (1965), by Emile C Schurmacher.

Planetary Agent X (1965), by Mack Reynolds.

Mr. X fliegt mit [??] (1965), by Ira Walker and Tony Westermayr.

MISTER-X N°3 – Terreur sur l’HIPPODROME (1965), author unknown.

Kings X Affair (1965), by Marsha Wayne.

The Game of X (1965), by Robert Sheckley.

Utopia Minus X (1966), by Rex Gordon.

Phenomena X (1966), by John E. Muller.

Madame X (1966), an adaptation by Michael Avallone of the 1966 movie of that title.

Fact X (1966), by Patrick Winn.

Commando X (1967), by Poke Runyon.

X Marks the Spy: Christopher Cool, Teen Agent #1 (1967), by Jack Lancer.

The Power of X (1968), by Arthur Sellings.

Project X : An Alan Steel Thriller (1968), by Colin Robertson.

Let X Be Excitement (1969), by Christie Harris.

Death to Comrade X (1969), by John Morgan.

POST-DÉTENTE (a select sampling)

Perry Rhodan No. 16: Secret Barrier X (1972), by W.W. Shols.

The Man from Planet X No. 2: Tiger by the Tail (1975), by Hunter Adams. See Tom Swift and the Visitor from Planet X (1961), by Victor Appleton II, above.

Earth Factor X (1978; first pub. 1974 as The Secret Galactics; title changed in ’76), by A.E. Van Vogt.

Elizabeth X (1978), by Vera Caspary. Note that this is a crime novel; it’s not about a tenth Queen Elizabeth.

ALSO OF INTEREST

“The Hotel X,” a 1919 short story by William Le Queux.

The X Bar X Boys was a series of western adventures for boys created by the Stratemeyer Syndicate and written under the pseudonym of James Cody Ferris and published by Grosset & Dunlap.

1. The X Bar X Boys On The Ranch – 1926
2. The X Bar X Boys In Thunder Canyon – 1926
3. The X Bar X Boys On Whirlpool River – 1926
4. The X Bar X Boys On Big Bison Trail – 1927
5. The X Bar X Boys At The Round-Up – 1927

etc.

“The Coming of Black X,” comics espionage story in Feature Funnies #13 (October 1938) by Will Eisner.

“Introducing ‘Miss X’,” comics crime story in Action Comics #26 (July 1940), written by Ken Fitch.

IN DEFENSE OF REASON. Primitivism and Decadence: A Study of American Experimental Poetry. Maule’s Curse: Seven Studies in the History of American Obscurantism. The Anatomy of Nonsence. The significance of “The Bridge” by Hart Crane, or What Are We to Think of Professor X? (1947), by Yvor Winters. NB: Not fiction, but of interest because of the phrase “Professor X.” Winters uses that moniker to describe middlebrow professors of American literature and history “at nearly every university in the country.”

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck and the mystery of the Double X (1949). Children’s western.

Planet X: Everyday Science Stories (1953), by Mildred Kiefer.

Triangle X (1960), by Louise Lee Floethe. Children’s western.

Mister X (1964), by James Russell Grant. Poems.

The Search for Planet X (1965), by Tony Simon. Nonfiction.

The Trouble with Product X (1966), stories by Joan Aiken.

Click on image for larger version

Secret Agent “X”, The Man of a Thousand Faces (1977 reprint of a 1935 pulp story). Also Secret Agent X: Octopus of Crime, by Brant House.

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READ MORE essays by Joshua Glenn, originally published in: THE BAFFLER | BOSTON GLOBE IDEAS | BRAINIAC | CABINET | FEED | HERMENAUT | HILOBROW | HILOBROW: GENERATIONS | HILOBROW: RADIUM AGE SCIENCE FICTION | HILOBROW: SHOCKING BLOCKING | THE IDLER | IO9 | N+1 | NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW | SEMIONAUT | SLATE

Joshua Glenn’s books include UNBORED: THE ESSENTIAL FIELD GUIDE TO SERIOUS FUN (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen); and SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS: 100 EXTRAORDINARY STORIES ABOUT ORDINARY THINGS (with Rob Walker).

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