Sam Space

Created by William F. Nolan
Pseudonyms include Frank Anmar, F. E. Edwards & Warren Kastel 

Maybe Mars aint the place to raise the kids, after all…

And it may not be the best place to run a detective agency either, as William Nolan’s wonked-out sci-fi gumshoe is starting to discover.

SAM SPACE is a gumshoe-for-hire, who works out of a suitably rundown office (with a plug-in secretary) in Bubble City, Mars (that’s on the next planet over, for you Earthlings).

Sam’s the most hard-boiled yegg in the solar system, trained in seventeen forms of solar combat, and he’s a sucker for a good-looking dame, even if she does have a surplus of heads. (Is four too many? Are two enough?).

Suffice it to say Nolan is having a ball with these stories, folding every bit of silly, often adolescent nuttery (Ron Goulart would understand) he can into the batter.

A mice cult that worships Mickey Mouse?

Robot dragons?

A babe with winking nipples?

Witches who live in candy forests?

Inter-dimensional travel?

Temperamental hovercars?

Homicidal clones?

Runaway robot testicles?

A Lake of Desire?

Why not?

Recommended for fans of either genre who don’t take themselves too seriously, although more sensitive, woke types ought to know that much of the humour hasn’t aged well. “Misogynistic, racist, derivative trash” seems to be the current refrain in some quarters.


Perhaps best-known for his sci-fi novel Logan’s Run, William F. Nolan is a pulp historian with a special fondness for both science and detective fiction. Certainly, he wasn’t afraid to venture into crime fiction, albeit often with his tongue-in-cheek. Still–he wrote two critically acclaimed, serious biographies of Hammett, Dashiell Hammett: A Casebook and Hammett: A Life on the Edge, but mostly he had fun with the P.I. genre, whipping up over-boiled private eye Bart Challis (supposedly Sam’s great-grandfather) who appeared in a couple of novels, and his brother Nick Challis, also a private dick, who showed up in several short stories. But Nolan’s real affection for the genre really came bubbling to the top when he edited the stone-cold classic anthology, The Black Mask Boys (1985), a loving Valentine to the iconic pulp, the editing and research of which no doubt inspired his own Black Mask Boys novels, in which he imagined pulp writers Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Erle Stanley Gardner teaming up to solve crimes, with each book in the trilogy aping the spotlighted author’s individual style.


  • “Nolan is a force of nature you cannot resist and his work makes a permanent dent in our memories.”
    — Ray Bradbury



  • “Sungrab” (1980, After the Fall)
  • “Deadtrip” (1991, Invitation to Murder)
  • “Moonjob” (1992, 3 for Space)
  • “The Adventure of the Martian Moons” (1997, The Flying Sorcerors; aka “The Beast of Bubble City”)
  • “Buttquest” (April 2011, Hardboiled #43)


  • 3 For Space (1992) Buy this book
  • Far Out: The Incredible Adventures of Sam Space (2005)
    This tray-cased deluxe leather-bound signed & personalized edition, limited to 26 copies, included both novels, the four short stories and an original introduction by Nolan. A bargain at a mere $360!
  • Seven for Space (2008) Buy this book
  • Space Tales (2010) Kindle it!



  • July 23, 2021
    THE BOTTOM LINE: Mars may not be the place to raise the kids, but how about a detective agency?
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

Leave a Reply