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The Rocket Racer

Short story, 2370 words.

This is Canning's earliest surviving identifiable story. It was one of many he contributed to the boys' magazines of the time, and was published anonymously, as were nearly all such contributions. It is not very good. The style is full of clichés, there is hardly any characterisation, and the plot is totally implausible. But he was paid for it, "just enough cash to give me a holiday" as he said in a letter to his parents.

Two young men, Dan and Slick, have built a rocket-powered speedboat and entered it in an international power-boat race at Southampton. A rival, the dastardly Fellows of the Vero company, discovers their secret location. He and two henchmen attack Slick, tie him up, and put him aboard his boat with a time-bomb. Meanwhile Dan has overheard their scheming. He dashes along to an airfield. Will he be able to charter a plane, be lowered on to the boat, release his pal, get rid of the bomb, and win the race? What do you think?

The Boys' Magazine, 16 July 1932