What Else I’m Reading – Adam Strange

Showcase 17, 1958

Earth archaeologist Adam Strange is busily raiding an ancient South American site when he’s put on the run by some locals who don’t like the idea of a white man taking the treasures of their ancestors. He encounters a chasm, too far to jump across. With the natives on his tail, he has no other choice but to try the leap…

Instead of the jungle, he lands on an amazing alien world called Rann where he meets a lovely young woman.

Here’s a quick summary of what brought Adam to the planet Rann, 25 trillion light years from earth:

Adam Strange finds himself on a world well beyond anything he ever imagined. This man spent his life seeking other worlds, just out of reach of own. Digging in the dirt for evidence of other worlds that sat right where our dull old world sits now, this archaeologist’s most thrilling discovery was that we were the ones being examined by scientists far above our field of vision. As the life of the Incas or the Etruscans or the ancient Egyptians was just out of Adam’s grasp, so was our life just out of the grasp of the people of Rann.

Enter the Zeta-Beam.

Like the Jews in the wilderness, Adam was guided to his new home by a pillar of fire in the sky.

This other, scientifically superior world summoned Adam, inviting him to join in their strange adventures.

And so Mr Strange finds himself on another world, his own Oz, Wonderland, Narnia, whatever you want to call it. But unlike Dorothy in Oz (at least the first book and the movies), and not unlike the Pevensie children in Narnia – in the midst of the magic, Adam has also found his home on Rann.

His old life doesn’t interest him; “There’s no place like Rann,” you can almost hear him say. His thematic predecessor, John Carter, was not satisfied with the world of magic and saw the old life as his home. Adam has discovered and cherishes the tension between the world beyond and homestead. It would be as if Ulysses had rejected Ithaca and contented himself on some island filled with monsters.

How can Adam and the Pevensies of Narnia be content? Why don’t they want to go home?

Christians sometimes talk about ‘mountaintop moments.’  These are times when we’re feeling the presence of God especially strongly. Usually during times of worship or prayer or reading scriptures. The problem with mountaintop moments is that we must descend. We have to go back to the ‘real world’ with all of its non-God elements. Adam found love on Rann, so he wanted to stay. But his love for Alanna reflects the mountaintop moment. The cares of earth life fade away not because he’s found adventure – that’s never enough. He’s happy to stay because he’s found a person he wants to stay with.

That’s the same reason the Narnia kids want to stay. They love the adventure, but they love Aslan more. That’s why Christians don’t want to leave the mountain. Sure, the ‘magic’ is exciting. But spending time with Jesus is better; he’s the reason we want to leave.

Adam’s first adventure on Rann is a summary of all to come. He discovers a Brigadoon type city. It’s here just for a moment, then fades away, back to the mist. The city, with the fearfully wrought name Samakand, returns every 20 or 100 years or something. Just like Adam, doomed to leave Rann regularly.

The Zeta beam fills Adam with radiation, which sends him to Rann. When this radiation dissipates, he fades away back to earth. With the help of Alanna’s father, who invented the Zeta beam, Adam can anticipate the next place it will strike on earth. He has to wait though. That’s why every Adam Strange story ends with a scene like this:

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