ALFRED COPPEL “The Last Two Alive!” Short novel. First published in Planet Stories, November 1950. Reprinted with Out of Time’s Abyss, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, as half of Armchair Fiction Double Novel #D-169, paperback, 2015.

   If you all you want is a whopping good old-fashioned space opera story without a lot of either depth or characterization, this may be the story for you. Aram Jerrold is accused and convicted of conspiring against the ruling Tetarchy of the Thirty Suns, based on the testimony of Deve Jennet, a girl Aram thought he had a future with.

   But once sent to the prison planet Atmion IV for execution, Aram is pleasantly surprised (to say the least) to find that Deve is a member of group of rebels against both the Tetarchy and Satane, the despot ruler of the Kaidor planetary system. Planning to revolt and take over the Tetarchy, the latter has developed a biological weapon that wipes out the memories of its victims and turns them into howling beasts.

   Well, sir, what can a band of only a handful of rebels do — the one Aram is now a member of? They do their best, and realistically, the outcome is all but inevitable. The story is told in picturesque fashion, however, and it doesn’t slow down for a minute, exactly how you’d expect from a tale first published in a magazine called Planet Stories.

   [WARNING: PLOT ALERT AHEAD] As it so happens, this is one of those big-scale stories in which humanity completely wipes itself out, leaving only two survivors. Aram [Jerrold] and Deve [Jennet] become the progenitors of a new human race, and over the years, their names become corrupted to … can you guess?